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An engrossing, well-researched history of India’s nuclear ambitions.

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A scholar examines India’s nuclear program in this debut book.

An assistant professor of international relations at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, Sarkar ranks among the world’s foremost experts on the history of India’s boisterous relationship with nuclear technology. In this volume, the culmination of years of international research, she offers readers a succinct history and compelling analysis of India’s nuclear program. Written chronologically, the book is divided into three parts, with the first section providing historical information on the intersection of India’s nuclear ambitions with the nation’s newfound independence in the 1940s. Part 2 explores the role of India’s nuclear expansion in the context of the Cold War, and the final section looks at the program’s history since the 1970s. In addition to presenting a well-written, concise history, the volume delivers an analysis that challenges prevailing narratives about India’s broader history since independence. For instance, the work dispels the “myth of peaceful India” built on “Gandhian ideals of nonviolence,” emphasizing right-wing demands for a strong Hindu nation-state. The book also highlights the presence of anti-nuclear activists as well as their encounters with “spectacular state violence.” This innovative analysis is backed by impressive research that effectively utilizes both Western and Indian archival sources, demonstrates a firm command of the academic literature, and gives readers nearly 70 pages of endnotes and bibliographic material. And while there is much here that will intrigue scholars in Sarkar’s field, the volume’s accessible writing will appeal to readers without a niche academic specialization. The book’s engaging style is complemented by an ample assortment of maps, charts, historical photographs, and other images. Although it’s partly inspired by the author’s own upbringing in India and her vivid memories of the country’s series of nuclear tests in 1998 that “shook South Asia,” the thorough account ends rather abruptly in the ’80s, presenting only a brief commentary on events since the ’90s. Despite this omission, the book provides not only a compelling history of India’s nuclear program, but also new insights into decolonization, independence movements, and the Cold War in developing nations.

An engrossing, well-researched history of India’s nuclear ambitions.

Pub Date: July 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5017-6440-0

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Cornell Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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An absorbing history illuminates a bleak landscape.

Across the vast expanse of Siberia, pianos brought culture and consolation.

British journalist Roberts makes an engaging book debut with a chronicle of her travels through Siberia searching for pianos. Guided by a history of 19th-century Russian piano makers, the author was aware of the proliferation and distribution of pianos, some manufactured by Western companies, far from Russia’s major cities. By the end of the 19th century, one workshop in St. Petersburg alone had built more than 11,000 pianos, many of which were hauled by sledge to outposts in Siberia. “East of the Urals,” Roberts writes, “music teachers were paid two to three times the amount they earned in Western Russia. In these new towns of the expanding Empire, the piano played an even more important social role than it did in a Moscow drawing room.” In the town of Tomsk, for example, a place Chekhov found boring, a chapter of the Imperial Russian Music Society incited a flourishing musical culture. Its grand piano was chosen by the brother of famed pianist Anton Rubinstein. Besides forming the center of cultural life for residents who settled in Siberia hoping for fortune, freedom, or a new beginning, pianos were crucial to the region’s many penal colonies, where classical music elicited “a keen sense of European identity and pride.” In Kolyma, near the Sea of Okhotsk, Roberts recalls the “political dissidents, hardened criminals, recidivist killers, invalids half dead with dystrophy, poets, pianists, and starving women” brought by Stalin’s gulag ships. Even in that harsh colony, there was a grand piano, housed in a building constructed by prisoners. Roberts describes vividly the “bald, scarred, austere” landscapes that make up much of Siberia as well as the often eccentric individuals—many of them piano tuners—who assisted in her quest. Aiming “to celebrate all that is magnificent about Siberia,” Roberts realized that often the pianos she found were “tied up with a terrifying past.”

An absorbing history illuminates a bleak landscape. (b/w illustrations; maps)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8021-4928-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Unsurprising but perfectly competent and seamlessly of a piece with her Living History (2003). And will Hillary run? The...

Former Secretary of State Clinton tells—well, if not all, at least what she and her “book team” think we ought to know.

If this memoir of diplomatic service lacks the preening self-regard of Henry Kissinger’s and the technocratic certainty of Dean Acheson’s, it has all the requisite evenhandedness: Readers have the sense that there’s not a sentence in it that hasn’t been vetted, measured and adjusted for maximal blandness. The news that has thus far made the rounds has concerned the author’s revelation that the Clintons were cash-strapped on leaving the White House, probably since there’s not enough hanging rope about Benghazi for anyone to get worked up about. (On that current hot-button topic, the index says, mildly, “See Libya.”) The requisite encomia are there, of course: “Losing these fearless public servants in the line of duty was a crushing blow.” So are the crises and Clinton’s careful qualifying: Her memories of the Benghazi affair, she writes, are a blend of her own experience and information gathered in the course of the investigations that followed, “especially the work of the independent review board charged with determining the facts and pulling no punches.” When controversy appears, it is similarly cushioned: Tinhorn dictators are valuable allies, and everyone along the way is described with the usual honorifics and flattering descriptions: “Benazir [Bhutto] wore a shalwar kameez, the national dress of Pakistan, a long, flowing tunic over loose pants that was both practical and attractive, and she covered her hair with lovely scarves.” In short, this is a standard-issue political memoir, with its nods to “adorable students,” “important partners,” the “rich history and culture” of every nation on the planet, and the difficulty of eating and exercising sensibly while logging thousands of hours in flight and in conference rooms.

Unsurprising but perfectly competent and seamlessly of a piece with her Living History (2003). And will Hillary run? The guiding metaphor of the book is the relay race, and there’s a sense that if the torch is handed to her, well….

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5144-3

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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