Viewed from a perch in Hong Kong, one of the most striking things about Lion City, Jeevan Vasagar’s new book on Singapore, Hong Kong’s best frenemy, is that it includes nary a mention of Asia’s World City.
While in the mid 1990s, with China rapidly embracing capitalism, a Maoist insurgency may have seemed an incongruous throwback to the numerous proxy conflicts that had raged throughout the Cold War. Yet in Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had never been more relevant.
The cover of Central Asia: A New History from the Imperial Conquests to the Present, with its photo of the massive walls of the Ark Fortress in Bukhara, is something of a bait and switch. The book flies through that period implied by picture: the “imperial conquests” of the subtitle are not those of Genghis Khan or Timur, but rather the later ones by China and Russia: conquests of Central Asia, not by.
The scene is Turkey in the mid-to-late 70s. A young male college student hops onto a bus. He sits next to a cute female student from his class, but before they can strike up a conversation, they see a right-wing passenger, walk up to another passenger and hit him on the head with a hammer. The young woman screams. The two students get off the bus, only for the female student to call the male student a “disgusting fascist” and leave in anger.
There will, one imagines, be quite a few books written about Hong Kong’s year of protests, from journalistic retellings from the front-lines, memoirs from influential figures, and attempts to tie the protests to a broader “New Cold War” narrative. There have already been a few.
There can be a fun-house mirror quality to the history of Japan’s relations with Russia: the events are recognizable, but come with unexpected bulges and pinches.
Liberal intellectuals, whether in India or writing about India, may not take kindly to Brian A Hatcher’s latest book Hinduism Before Reform. But it is a book that they must read to examine the roots of their attitude towards everything perceived as right-wing Hinduism in India and the Indian diaspora.