First off, happy birthday to baba. His birthday, no matter what his Matric certificate or passport says, is July 4th. Love & hugs. Yesterday, was one of the most gorgeous days in a while. I, um, didn't go for a bike ride as I had hoped to. Maybe another one will come around soonish.
Tomorrow, of course, the great nation of America celebrates its 229th birthday. Happy Birthday.
- Last year, I recommended Francis D Cogliano's Was the American Revolution Inevitable?. This year, I would like to bring to your attention Harvey J. Kaye's The Lost Founder: Thomas Paine: However conservative the times appear, we Americans remain -- with all our faults and failings -- resolutely democratic in bearing and aspiration. When we rummage through our Revolutionary heritage, we instinctively look for democratic hopes and possibilities. And there we find no Founder more committed to the progress of freedom, equality, and democracy than Paine. It really is a thought-provoking read on the memory and history of America today. Inspired, I downloaded the naturalization papers. One of the questions on the form is have you ever been a drunkard? oh.
- Prithvi calls to attention Pankaj Mishra's review of Amartya Sen's The Argumentative Indian in the Outlook. Mishra likes the book [though he thinks Sen might come off looking a bit defensive] but Soumya Bhattacharya in the Guardian declares that this book might become as defining and as influential a work as Edward Said's Orientalism. I will hedge my bet.
- Ed Harriman in LRB asks where has all the money gone in Iraq?: Millions of dollars were paid to contractors for phantom work: $3,379,505 was billed, for example, for Ã«personnel not in the field performing workí and Ã«other improper chargesí on a single oil pipeline repair contract. An Iraqi sports coach was paid $40,000 by the CPA. He gave it to a friend who gambled it away then wrote it off as a legitimate loss. While, Tony Judt in NYRB wonders what questions the Iraq war opposers need to ask of the new world order: Historians and pundits who leap aboard the bandwagon of American Empire have forgotten a little too quickly that for an empire to be born, a republic has first to die." ouch.
- Speaking of empires, Andrew Porter, whose Religion and Empire: British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700-1914 I will review soon, takes a look at Britain at sea in the TLS: Only after 1815 was Britainís naval supremacy finally incontestable, and Britain had taken upon itself the role of global policeman. Sounds familiar.