"Mishra does not underestimate the emotional difficulty that must often have stopped the pens of his interlocutors. By the time Napoleon conquered Egypt in 1798, ideas of science and rationalism had begun to be associated with European history, sweeping the decisive and continued contributions of the Arab world, China and India under the laboratory benches. Meanwhile, all that is embarrassing about human history – misogyny, hierarchy, ethnic conflict – had been exaggeratedly placed into the container of Eastern tradition. This context meant that if these intellectuals wished to advance a reform agenda, they would have to become ‘Westernisers’ and turn their backs on their societies. Mishra’s emphasis on al-Afghani’s complex relationship with Islam prefigured that of reformist Chinese scholar Kang Youwei’s negotiations with Confucianism, and Gandhi’s dance with Indian tradition"

Vijay Prashad’s review of Pankaj Mishra’s From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia

One of the books on my winter break reading list. Excited.