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The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World (New Press People's History) Paperback – April 29, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1595583420 ISBN-10: 1595583424

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Product Details

  • Series: New Press People's History
  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583420
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scholarly but accessible, this history of Third World intellectual thought and politics captures the shared ideals, institutions and strategies that have united the Latin American countries and the new Asian and African states that have stood outside U.S. and Soviet spheres of influence since WWII. This Third World project did more than steer a neutral course between the nuclear-armed contenders of the Cold War era, claims Prashad (The Karma of Brown Folk). Anticolonial nationalism was also the basis for an alternative world order premised on peace, autonomy and cooperation. But Third World unity was also fragile. The optimism of newly independent nation-states that shaped the United Nations into their principal global platform gave way after the 1960s to frustration, conflict, compromised sovereignty and diminishing expectations. Prashad reveals the close interrelations among such obstacles as the persistence of old social hierarchies, the mobilization of religious views and reinvented tribalism, and punishing debt burdens designed to maintain Western hegemony over a "developing" world. Indeed, he argues, "cultural nationalism" easily becomes "the Trojan-horse of IMF-driven globalization." While the subtitle is misleading—Prashad necessarily concentrates on towering figures like India's Nehru, Indonesia's Sukarno and Egypt's Nasser—the book offers a vital assertion of an alternative future, grounded in an anti-imperial vision. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Elegiac, combative, revisionist, incisive—and recalling the vivid thoughts and words of scores of extraordinary intellectuals, artists, and freedom fighters—The Darker Nations is destined to become a classic.

A landmark work from a brilliant young scholar, The Darker Nations chronicles the rise and fall of the Third World. Its hardcover publication was hailed by renowned scholar Immanuel Wallerstein as "essential background for rethinking history." Publishers Weekly recognized its relevance for global activists today, noting its "vital assertion of an alternative future, grounded in an anti-imperialist vision."

The first comprehensive political history of the third world as concept and as project. --Immanuel Wallerstein

The Darker Nations has been named a finalist for the 11th Annual Asian American Literary Awards. --Ken Chen, Executive Director,

More About the Author

Vijay Prashad is Professor of International Studies at Trinity College, where he holds the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History.

Prashad is the author of fourteen books, most recently Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press), which India's The Hindu called "a book that deserves to become essential reading, a canonical account of a world-historic chain of events," and Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today (New Press), which the Boston Globe called "required reading for anyone who wants to understand race, assimilation and patriotism."

His Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World (New Press, 2007) was chosen by the Asian American Writers' Workshop as the best nonfiction book of 2008, and it won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Award for 2009. It is now available in French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, with editions in India and Pakistan and translations in Arabic, Mandarin and Turkish in process. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote in Economic and Political Weekly, "This is a comprehensive, informative and rewarding book to read, and documents a critical part of our international politics and culture which is much misrepresented nowadays." Former Indian Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh, writing in Tehelka, notes, "The book invites comparison to Edward Said's Orientalism. Vijay Prashad's passionate commitment, his intellectual brio, his literary style, are all immensely impressive." El Pais said of the Spanish edition, "Las naciones oscuras es un libro excepcionalmente documentado. Era obligado, dada la ambición del proyecto. Su documentación es tan buena que brilla."

Prashad is a columnist for Frontline (India) and a correspondent for Asia Times, an editor at Bol (Pakistan) and Himal (Nepal) and a writer for al-Akhbar (Lebanon) and Counterpunch (USA). He has been published in The Hindu (India), Egypt Independent (Egypt), Bidayat (Lebanon), Economic and Political Weekly (India), Third World Resurgence (Malaysia), Mail and Guardian (South Africa), and India Abroad (USA).

In December 2012, Verso Books will publish his The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South, which former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali calls "a contribution to the intellectual-cum-political emancipation of developing countries and their empowerment through greater self-reliance on their own intellectual and analytical resources."

For LeftWord books in Delhi, he edits a series called Dispatches. The first volume, Dispatches from Latin America, co-edited with Teo Ballvé appeared in 2006. The second volume, Dispatches from Pakistan, co-edited with Qalandar Bux Memon and Madiha R. Tahir, will appear in October 2012. The third volume, Dispatches from the Arab Revolt, co-edited with Paul Amar, will appear in December 2012. Two volumes, Dispatches from Africa and Dispatches from Europe, are currently in formation.

Customer Reviews

I am glad to have consumed this book.
Indeed, even if it was not titled 'people's history', I think it could be faulted by being a little vague about 'the people'.
S. Sherman
What I found very interesting was the book's balance.
Third World

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By S. Sherman on February 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an ambitious effort to chart the fortunes of the political project of unifying the postcolonial world into 'the third world'. It is not, however, a 'people's' history, either in the senses of charting the demographic transformations of ordinary people (literacy, urbanization, etc) or anthropologically describing how they understood the dramatic events (revolutions, counterrevolutions, development experiments, etc) unfolding. It is almost exclusively concerned with the major leaders and some of the intellectuals and artists who shaped the consciousness of the period. Indeed, even if it was not titled 'people's history', I think it could be faulted by being a little vague about 'the people'.

In any case, the book is basically divided into three parts. The first section, 'Quest', considers some themes (economics, nationalism, gender, etc) through the optic of major conferences. The second, 'pitfalls', highlights places that epitomize themes like military coups and socialism from above. The third section, 'Assassinations' describes the demise of the third world as a subject as a result of neoliberalism, the IMF, the rise of East Asia, and religious fundamentalism. In all sections, Prashad tends to move between the focus of the chapter and historical geographical events that are far afield and occur before and after the moment in question. The effect can be a little vertiginous. Certainly he deserves credit for attempting such an expansive work, and his knowledge about the time period appears to be vast.

However, I found his organization a little too tidy, and his political perspective restricted by his focus on state leaders.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By L. F Sherman on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Well done. Bringing together material usually found in national, regional, and international histories the author orders material topically with chapter titles of cities where major events related to each theme happened.

Although not easy reading because much of the material is unfamiliar to most readers, the discussions are handled well and judgements usually sound. It is a wonder that this book could be written at all because of the breadth required. If you know one region of the world this volume will open your eyes and provide rich information for comparison.

Even if one is put off by views reflecting sympathy for the "Darker Peoples", critical of colonial mythmaking and neoliberal globalization alike - the control of the facts and history demands attention.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on June 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book gets high marks for its sheer wealth of information, though it's not a casual reading experience. Here Vijay Prashad has continued the spirit of Howard Zinn's classic "A People's History of the United States," and this book is a strong inaugural release in what will hopefully be a continuing series. Here Prashad constructs the "Third World" as a Cold War term for all the disadvantaged nations that were caught in the crossfire between the First and Second Worlds, and were usually abused as pawns in the era's strictly bilateral games of geopolitics and development. Specifically, most of Prashad's work concerns the Non-Aligned Movement of nations that tried to resist taking sides in the bilateral Cold War, and attempted to build a coalition of nations that could stand as a viable entity with its own ideologies and political strategies. Prashad provides a wealth of little-known information on the nations and leaders that attempted to build this movement, and the political and economic realities faced by the peoples and societies that were being used and left behind by the superpowers.

Those familiar with Zinn's book will recognize the travails of the passionate historian who can't figure out how to synthesize vast quantities of historical knowledge. The first half of this book is tough to digest, consisting of an interminable laundry list of names and events with little over-arching analysis, giving the impression that Prashad is trying to describe every single thing that happened during the Cold War era outside of the US, Europe, and USSR. Occasional snippets of theory also seem forced and awkward, such as Prashad's examinations of unnatural borders or the behavior of military dictators.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on June 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
Vijay Prashad's book "The Darker Nations" is a mix between modern history, political pamphlet and political economic analysis. Subtitled "A People's History of the Third World", it should not be thought of as a history of this part of the world as such, but as a history of the concept of the 'Third World' and its political implications.

Prashad's main thesis is that the Third World project was a national liberation project, generally progressive and secular, born out of anti-colonialism and popular mass mobilization to achieve independence for formerly colonized nations. Prashad describes the various institutions and movements all over the world involved in this, their respective leaders and backgrounds, and why they succeeded or failed (mostly the latter). He puts many well known institutions and developments in the Third World into this context, from OPEC to the 'Asian Tigers', which gives new insight into familiar phenomena, while at the same time chronicling the often unfortunately short history of the defeat of mass leftist movements in the underdeveloped world.

The general gist here is that whereas the initial national liberation governments were varied in their class background and aims, they all came from mass mobilizations against imperialism and as such were imbued with a developmental, egalitarian and nationalist-secular ethos. However, the combined force of the world market and the neo-colonialist states (essentially the entire First World) defeated these movements and funded and enabled reactionary movements in these Third World nations, leading to the destruction of the left in many places where it was formerly strong, such as Indonesia and Sudan.
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