It can be difficult to remember today, but before 1978—the beginning of the reform era—famines struck China with depressing regularity. Many (or perhaps most) of them were human-induced. That certainly goes for the terrible famine of 1959-1961, which resulted from Mao Zedong’s so-called “Great Leap Forward” economic development program. A key element of this murderous social experiment was the forced collectivization of farmers into enormous People’s Communes consisting of thousands of households. Intended to bring about food security and income levels approaching those of the United Kingdom (the Soviet Union wanted to surpass the US, so Mao targeted the UK), it led instead to the starvation of some 20-50 million people. No one knows the true number.

With almost 17% year-on-year growth, India’s is the world’s fastest growing smartphone population; more than a billion phones are estimated to be sold over the next five years. There are now more Indians with smartphones than the entire population of the United States, driven by phones that cost as little as 10,000 rupees (US$150).

Networked: Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004, Wahyu Prasetyawan (NUS Press, August 2018)
Networked: Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004, Wahyu Prasetyawan (NUS Press, August 2018)

Decentralization is among the most important political economic developments in Indonesia over the last thirty years. This book evaluates three cases (in the provinces of East Kalimantan, West Sumatra, and Riau) of deep-seated political conflict and intrigue implicating central government, local governments and multinational companies.

A City Mismanaged is policy analysis as blood sport. Leo Goodstadt needs no introduction in Hong Kong circles; those outside might need to know that he was head of the pre-Handover Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit from 1989-1997. He has penned a no-holds-barred smackdown of the four post-colonial Hong Kong administrations.