The Persistence of Caste

The Persistence of Caste; The Khairlanji Murders & India’s Hidden Appartheid. Anand Teltumbde, Zed Books, 2010 Reviewed by Graham Mulligan The introduction section of this short book (192 pages) is important. It is a condensed history of Caste in India. The word ‘caste’ is from Latin castus, and in Portugese means ‘pure’ or ‘chaste’. The early Portugese explorers thought it was like ‘race’ or lineage (blood based). They were wrong;

dragon

Trip of the Tongue, Cross-country Travels In Search of America’s Languages

Trip of the Tongue, Cross-country Travels In Search of America’s Languages; Elizabeth Little; Bloomsbury, 2012   Little is an obvious fan of language study. This book traces her search for languages (in the US) that are disappearing or at least are in danger, in the face of the predominance of English. It isn’t an academic study and it isn’t as broad-based as the title might suggest, however it is an

How the West Was Lost, Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead

How the West Was Lost, Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead; Dambisa Moyo   “once an idea is out it can be used and improved upon by anyone, anywhere, an idea has a marginal cost of zero”   This quote is referring to the spinoffs from the magnificent technology that enabled the Apollo moon landing in July 1969. I was a vagabond watching it on

India; The Road Ahead

India; The Road Ahead, Mark Tully, Random House, 2011   Reviewed by Graham Mulligan   The author was born in India and worked as the BBC Bureau Chief for twenty-two years. This book examines a number of themes ranging form politics, caste, religion, culture, business, history and tigers. Each chapter begins with a short essay introduction to a theme, setting a context for the personal stories that follow, as Tully

Words and Rules

Words and Rules; The Ingredients of Language; Stephen Pinker, Basic Books 1999   Reviewed by Graham Mulligan   The subject of this book is regular and irregular verbs. Everyone leans their native language in roughly the same way; lots of words and concepts assembled together following patterns and rules. People don’t just “blurt out words but rather combine them into phrases and sentences. So, what’s the issue with the verbs?

Shock of Gray

Shock of Gray, Ted C. Fishman, Scribner, 2010 Reviewed by Graham Mulligan   The subtitle to this book describes the broad themes as: ‘The aging of the world’s population and how it pits young against old, child against parent, worker against boss, company against rival, and nation against nation”. The world’s population is getting older and as it does it is bringing new challenges for all societies. Fishman warns, “the

Class Warfare; Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools

Class Warfare; Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools Steven Brill, Simon & Schuster, 2011   Reviewed by Graham Mulligan   This book is a blatant union bashing political rant masquerading as an insider look at America’s education struggles. I found it very awkwardly written with its eighty-plus ‘chapters’, which were sometimes a page and a half long. There is very little effort made by the author to present the

Two Innocents in Red China

Two Innocents in Red China Pierre Trudeau and Jacques Hebert; Douglas and McIntyre, 2007 (first published in 1961)   Canada recognized China 2 years before Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. For years China had been issuing invitations to Westerners to come and see China. Most Western nations still regarded Formosa/Taiwan and the Kuomintang Nationalists as the legitimate government of China. This trip in 1960, was not Trudeau’s first time

Endgame

Endgame; The End of the Debt Supercycle and How it Changes Everything John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper   Reviewed by Graham Mulligan   In the introductory essay the authors sum up the problem, quoting Wimpie from the Popeye cartoon, “I will gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” and Jean Mannet, “People only accept change in necessity and see necessity only in crisis”. The debt supercycle started more than

Dreaming in Chinese

Dreaming in Chinese, Mandarin lessons in life, love and language. Deborah Fallows, 2010 Reviewed by Graham Mulligan Deborah Fallows is a linguist married to a journalist, James Fallows. They have lived in Shanghai and Beijing and struggled to learn some Mandarin. This is her collection of fourteen useful, commonly-heard words or phrases and some cultural tales that they inspired her to relate.