- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780374274788
- ISBN-13: 978-0374274788
- ASIN: 0374274789
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 109 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Age of Anger: A History of the Present Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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“Mishra may well be the ideal writer to diagnose our current moment . . . In Age of Anger, Mishra has produced an urgent analysis of a moment in which the forgotten and dispossessed are rising up to challenge everything we thought we knew about the state of the world.” ―Sebastian Strangio, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Important, erudite . . . Mishra dwells in the realm of ideas and emotions, which get short shrift in most accounts of global politics. So it's bracing and illuminating for him to focus on feelings . . . A decent liberalism would read sharp critics like Mishra and learn.” ―Franklin Foer, The New York Times Book Review
"Pankaj Mishra, attempting to make sense of this confusing world of ours, makes a compelling, erudite case that the disrupting forces of globalization and rising income inequality inevitably provoke backlashes." ―Nishant Dahiya, NPR
"Columnist and historian Pankaj Mishra has named a moment and an era: His brilliant new book Age of Anger: A History of the Present looks at the rising tide of radical nationalism, racism, intolerance, misogyny, xenophobia, and fascism that's sweeping away calmer and more measured opposition all over the world, and he attempts to understand the phenomena before it engulfs everybody on the planet. . . Fiercely literate and eloquent.” ―Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor
“In its literacy and literariness, [Age of Anger] has the feel of Edmund Wilson’s extraordinary dramas of modern ideas―books like To the Finland Station―but with a different endpoint and a more global canvas. Mishra reads like a brilliant autodidact, putting to shame the many students who dutifully did the reading for their classes but missed the incandescent fire and penetrating insight in canonical texts.” ―Samuel Moyn, The New Republic
"A short book into which a lot of intellectual history has been packed . . . Nearly every page illuminates the current political climate." ―Laura Miller, Slate
“In probing for the wellspring of today’s anger [Pankaj Mishra] hits on something real. He traces our current mood back to the French Enlightenment of the 18th century. . . Along with quotations from Voltaire, Rousseau, and other familiar figures of Western Civ, Age of Anger includes observations from Iranian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and other nations’ scholars; their perspectives complement Mishra’s deep understanding of global tensions.” ―Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek
“Erudite …[In] Age of Anger: A History of the Present, which was conceived before Brexit and Trump, the Indian nonfiction writer and novelist Pankaj Mishra argues that our current rage has deep historical roots.” ―Bryan Walsh, Time
“Richly learned and usefully subversive.” ―John Gray, Literary Review
“A bowel-churning kick in the guts . . . [Pankaj Mishra's] vision is unusually broad, accommodating and resistant to categorisation. It is the kind of vision the world needs right now . . . Age of Anger is vitally germane to the global expressions of discontent that we are now witnessing” ―Christopher de Bellaigue, Financial Times
“[An] ambitious world history of anti-progressive backlash.” ―New York
“A disturbing but imperatively urgent analysis.” ― Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)
“A probing, well-informed investigation of global unrest calling for ‘truly transformative thinking’ about humanity's future.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With a deep knowledge of both Western and non-Western history, and like no other before him, Pankaj Mishra comes to grips with the malaise at the heart of these dangerous times. This is the most astonishing, convincing, and disturbing book I’ve read in years.” ―Joe Sacco
“In this urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely study, Pankaj Mishra follows the likes of Isaiah Berlin, John Gray and Mark Lilla by delving into the past in order to throw light on our contemporary predicament, when the neglected and dispossessed of the world have suddenly risen up in Nietzschean ressentiment to transform the world we thought we knew.” ―John Banville
"In Age of Anger: A History of the Present, Pankaj Mishra offers a panoramic survey of the populist wind roiling the world and a genealogy of the ressentiment propelling it. Lucid, incisive and provocative, the book may be the most ambitious effort yet to diagnose our social condition. With erudition and insight, it explains why movements from below are entrusting their future to paternalistic demagogues in the expectation of rewards from above." ―Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The National
About the Author
Pankaj Mishra is the author of From the Ruins of Empire and several other books. He is a columnist at Bloomberg View and the New York Times Book Review, and writes regularly for The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and The New Yorker. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he lives in London.
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Mishra creatively disrupts the common narrative (associated with Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis) of the West versus Islam. He finds the roots of ISIS not in a supposedly backward Islam but in the discontents of Western modernity, a discontent including such iconic Western rebels as Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Nechayev, as well as proto-fascists such as d'Annunzio. "Pushkin, looking for a model freedom fighter in exile in the year of Byron’s death, alighted on the Prophet Mohammed in his cycle of poems, Imitations of the Quran." And, unafraid of the critics, he connects both Jewish and Islamist fundamentalists to mid 20th Century European communists and fascists. As an Indian, he is especially interested in (and horrified by) Hindu ultra-nationalists. It was the election of Narenda Modi in India that spurred him to begin writing the book, which he delivered to his publisher the week Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
Few writers have the breadth and daring to connect the multiple political pathologies we are witnessing. Mishra does. His book is a major contribution to those who want not only to understand but also to resist.
Mishra, a columnist and book reviewer, is an exceptional writer with an uncanny ability to unravel historic trends through writers and thinkers of the day. He builds the compelling case that modern humans, especially, are gripped by this resentment as the promise of individual fulfillment — a common narrative in western democracies and beyond — is found to be unachievable and, in fact, is actively suppressed by current socio economic systems.
It’s a world in which ideas of individual self worth and a path to fulfillment are dangled like a carrot but wealth extraction and inequality beat all hope of actualization out of us like a stick wrapped in barbed wire. “…the modern religions of secular salvation have undermined their own main assumption: that the future would be materially superior to the present.”
It is a powerful, disheartening read (“the history of modernization is largely one of carnage and bedlam rather than peaceful convergence”) that seeks — and in my opinion, finds — cause for not only the surge in populism, driven by misguided anger, in America (“societies organized for the interplay of individual self-interest can collapse into manic tribalism, if not nihilistic violence”) but also the rise of Islamic extremism (“An existential resentment of other people’s being, caused by an intense mix of envy and sense of humiliation and powerlessness”).
Perhaps unintentionally, Mishra calls up another Nietzschean concept: eternal returns (that history is a series of similar infinite recurrences). This issue of anger and resentment, he argues, has been a constant motivating force since the dawn of the industrial age, when we traded embedded (and probably stultifying) community for doomed self-advancement.
It certainly rings true today as we see far too much of evidence of “the many uprooted men who raised their failure to adapt themselves to a stable life in society to the rank of injustice against the human race…” in the angry voters the rise of violent extremism, both groups roiled by “the incendiary appeal of victimhood in societies built around the pursuit of wealth and power…” Both share “the same amalgam of self-adoration and self-contempt…” along with “intellectual insecurity, confusion and belligerence.”
The result? “The world at large — from the United States to India — manifests a fierce politics of identity built on historical injuries and fear of internal and external enemies.”
He doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions other than a cautious imperative “to form a society and a state that provide for community — a source of belonging, identity and security — while also securing rights and freedoms for individuals without them fragmenting into self-interested atoms.”
And he warns against “political magicians” who would “beguile angry masses with promises of superhuman action and mythopoeic visions of a radiant future…” while orchestrating a “bizarre lurching between victimhood and chauvinism.” It might be too late, because ultimately, he fears that nationalism could “become a seductive but treacherous antidote to an experience of disorder and meaninglessness.”
The words of Bakunin, noted anarchic thinker and mentioned often in The Age of Anger, ring true today — “You will have to confess that ours is a sad age and that we all are its still sadder children.” The anger swirling around us is proof enough of that. Worse, these troubling times are of our own making.