From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia by Pankaj Mishra

by Cody

From the Ruins of Empire by Pankaj Mishra

Squeezing subject matter this historically, geographically, culturally, and politically vast into a few hundred pages almost inevitably leads to a disjointed narrative, and From the Ruins of Empire is no exception. That said, I wholly applaud the ambition and deep research that a text like this requires, and my reading was rewarded with a number of epiphanies–for instance, a contextualization of the shift from collective to individual jihad or how recent of a phenomenon nationalism is in China.

Most crucially, Pankaj Mishra offers a very necessary corrective to the (still!) pervasive, Western-centric view of colonialism/market economies/capitalism as progressive, just, and inevitable. Mishra’s alternative lens is not only good for viewing the past but also a useful tool when considering what the 21st century may hold. Thus, despite the occasional narrative hiccups, From the Ruins of Empire is a good general primer on the political landscape of modern–and, perhaps, future–Asia.