Muslims against the Muslim League
Ali Usman Qasmi, Megan Eaton Robb
Cambridge University Press (2017)
The popularity of the Muslim League and its idea of Pakistan has been measured in terms of its success in achieving the goal of a sovereign state in the Muslim majority regions of North West and North East India. It led to an oversight of Muslim leaders and organizations which were opposed to this demand, predicating their opposition to the League on its understanding of the history and ideological content of the Muslim nation. This volume takes stock of multiple narratives about Muslim identity formation in the context of debates about partition, historicizes those narratives, and reads them in the light of the larger political milieu of the period. Focusing on the critiques of the Muslim League, its concept of the Muslim nation, and the political settlement demanded on its behalf, it studies how the movement for Pakistan inspired a contentious, influential conversation on the definition of the Muslim nation.
Ali Usman Qasmi is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan. He is the author of Questioning the Authority of the Past: The Ahl al-Qur’an Movements in the Punjab (2012) and The Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan (2015).
Line on Fire: Ceasefire Violations and India–Pakistan Escalation Dynamics
Oxford University Press (2018)
The India–Pakistan border in Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed repeated ceasefire violations (CFVs) over the past decade. As relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated, CFVs have increased exponentially. It is imperative to gain a deeper understanding of these violations owing to their potential to not only cause a crisis but also escalate an ongoing one. Line on Fire, part of the Oxford International Relations in South Asia series, postulates that the incorrect diagnosis of the reasons behind CFVs has led to wrong policies being adopted by both India and Pakistan to deal with the recurrent violations. Using fresh empirical data and first-hand accounts, the volume attempts to understand the reason why CFVs continue to take place between India and Pakistan despite consistent efforts to reduce the tension between the two nations. In doing so, it recontextualizes and enriches the prevailing arguments in contemporary literature on escalating dynamics and unenduring ceasefire agreements between the two South Asian nuclear rivals.
Happymon Jacob teaches disarmament studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali
Uzma Aslam Khan
Westland Books (2019)
Nomi and Zee are Local Borns—their father a convict condemned by the British to the Andaman Islands, their mother shipped off with him. The islands are an inhospitable place, despite their surreal beauty. In this unreliable world, the children have their friend Aye, the pet hen Priya and the distracted love of their parents to shore them up from one day to the next. Meanwhile, within the walls of the prison, Prisoner 218 D wages a war on her jailers with only her body and her memory.
When war descends upon this overlooked outpost of Empire, the British are forced out and the Japanese move in. Soon the first shot is fired and Zee is forced to flee, leaving Nomi and the other islanders to contend with a new malice. The islands—and the seas surrounding them—become a battlefield, resulting in tragedy for some and a brittle kind of freedom for others, who find themselves increasingly entangled in a mesh of alliances and betrayals.
Uzma Aslam Khan was born in Lahore and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. She is the author of five novels, including Trespassing, The Geometry of God, Thinner than Skin, and, most recently, The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali. Trespassing was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize Eurasia 2003. The Geometry of God was voted one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2009 and won a bronze medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2010. Thinner than Skin was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014. Her novels have been translated worldwide, including in Romania, Brazil, France, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Norway, and Sweden.
The Bhagat Singh Reader
HarperCollins Publishers India (2019)
Sporting a sharp handlebar moustache, his hat askew, Shaheed Bhagat Singh has been lionized in Indian imagination as one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Independence movement. Convicted and hanged by the British in 1931 for his role in killing a colonial police officer in the Lahore Conspiracy Case, he became a martyr at the young age of twenty-three, leaving behind an inspiring legacy. Tales of Bhagat Singh’s heroism and bravery are part of popular folklore, as it were – how he exploded bombs at the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi and showered leaflets on the legislators before surrendering himself to the authorities, or how he led Indian political prisoners in a hunger strike demanding better conditions in jail. The Bhagat Singh Reader brings into prominence his less widely known intellectual output. It presents in a single volume a collection of his writings and thoughts: from his letters, telegrams and notices to articles that chalk out his subversive and progressive ideas, and his mails from prison to the colonial administration and judiciary. His forty-three sketches of Indian freedom fighters throw light on the larger picture of the independence struggle. This is a book that reveals Bhagat Singh the man and the thinker, the Marxist and the idealist.
Chaman Lal is professor (retired) and former chairperson of the Centre of Indian Languages at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is honorary advisor, Bhagat Singh Archives & Resource Centre, Delhi Archives, and fellow of Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Cuba Libre!: Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History
Blue Rider Press (2019)
The surprising story of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and the scrappy band of rebel men and women who followed them.
Most people are familiar with the basics of the Cuban Revolution of 1956–1959: it was led by two of the twentieth century’s most charismatic figures, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara; it successfully overthrew the island nation’s US–backed dictator; and it quickly went awry under Fidel’s rule.
But less is remembered about the amateur nature of the movement or the lives of its players. In this wildly entertaining and meticulously researched account, historian and journalist Tony Perrottet unravels the human drama behind history’s most improbable revolution: a scruffy handful of self-taught revolutionaries—many of them kids just out of college, literature majors, and art students, and including a number of extraordinary women—who defeated 40,000 professional soldiers to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Cuba Libre!’s deep dive into the revolution reveals fascinating details: How did Fidel’s highly organized lover Celia Sánchez whip the male guerrillas into shape? Who were the two dozen American volunteers who joined the Cuban rebels? How do you make land mines from condensed milk cans—or, for that matter, cook chorizo à la guerrilla (sausage guerrilla-style)?
Cuba Libre! is an absorbing look back at a liberation movement that captured the world’s imagination with its spectacular drama, foolhardy bravery, tragedy, and, sometimes, high comedy—and that set the stage for Cold War tensions that pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.
Tony Perrottet is the author of six books: Cuba Libre!, Off the Deep End, Pagan Holiday, The Naked Olympics, Napoleon’s Privates, and The Sinner’s Grand Tour. His travel stories have been translated into a dozen languages and widely anthologized, having been selected six times for the Best American Travel Writing series. He is a regular television guest on the History Channel and a contributing writer at Smithsonian Magazine; his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, T+L, Outside, Surface, and the London Sunday Times. He lives in New York.