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Incendiary Circumstances: A Chronicle of the Turmoil of our Times Paperback – April 23, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This absorbing collection of essays by novelist, journalist and travel writer Ghosh (The Hungry Tide) covers some two decades of catastrophe and upheaval, from sectarian violence in his native India during the 1980s through the September 11 attacks (which he watched from his home in Brooklyn) to the recent Indian Ocean tsunami. With an eye for evocative detail, he illuminates the human dramas behind the headlines: the plight of tsunami refugees trying to rebuild their lives and finances after every bank record and piece of ID is lost to the waves; the courage of ordinary Indians protecting their Sikh neighbors from rampaging Hindu mobs. Ghosh also includes trenchant essays about the ideologies that fuel the developing world's turbulent politics, arguing in one, for example, that religious fundamentalism is "not a repudiation of but a means of laying claim to the modern world." He is equally engaging when he turns from current affairs to literary essays on, say, the international culture of novel reading or Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali. The volume also includes a number of travel pieces, among them a sprightly look at America's Four Corners tourist trap. Written in luminous prose with unusual understanding, these essays offer an insightful look at a chaotic world. (Jan. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Written in luminous prose with unusual understanding, these essays offer an insightful look at a chaotic world.
Publishers Weekly, Starred
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618872213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618872213
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sevile on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of essays, written from a variety of locations around the world for various magazines, over the past fifteen years or so, by the Indian journalist Amitav Ghosh. To my taste they were uneven in quality. The first piece in the book, covering the effects of the 2004 Tsunami on the Indian inhabitants of some islands to the southeast of the Indian mainland, is beautifully written, engrossing and stands out as a masterpiece. It was very worthwhile reading a piece about life in India by a gifted Indian writer.

I learned a good deal from a number of the other pieces as well. However the quality of the pieces seems to go down in relation to the distance Ghosh is removed from what he knows best (India and Indians), he has a habit of trying a little too hard to have profound insights, and seems a little preachy at times. On the other hand, as someone from a different background, I found the book quite useful for improving my knowledge of Indian viewpoints on topics dealing with politics and society.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Farseem Mohammedy on January 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A collection of articulate essays written at different times and on different places and about different experiences. Though the piece on 9/11 was disappointing. It lacks depths of the other essays. The reader gets a glimpse of different places, different people, different politics, and of course how the "incendiary circumstances" have changed/affected/moulded peoples lives across borders. A superb pastime reading indeed !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amitav Ghosh provides insight into events that we may have read about or, in some cases, not even heard about. He was either present when the event took place or arrived at the location not long after. He interviews survivors, government officials, proponents and opponents, all the while carefully observing the setting and the circumstances. After providing us with an in-depth report on each event, he steps back and puts the event in context, be it political, sociological, historical, or personal.

I've read the first two books of The Ibis Trilogy - "Sea of Poppies" and "River of Smoke" - and eagerly await the third. I've also read "The Glass Palace" and "Shadow Lines". In short, I am on a personal journey to read all that he has written.

Whether he's writing a factual account or creating a gripping historical fiction, Amitav Ghosh never disappoints.

Read at least one of his books, and I think you'll be hooked like me.
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