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Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War (Columbia/Hurst) Hardcover – June 28, 2011
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History emerges only slowly from the passion-filled context of contemporary events. Sarmila Bose's book sets Bangladesh's struggle for liberation at the start of this long passage.(David Washbrook, Trinity College, Cambridge)
The 'Events in Pakistan, 1971,' as the International Commission of Jurists called its report on the subject, have been an enduring source of agonized contestation in South Asia for forty years. Subject to endless mythmaking and exaggerations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and their diasporas, all too rarely have these events been considered with the nonpartisan care they deserve. Sarmila Bose's stunning Dead Reckoning is the first book-length study to meticulously reconstruct the violence based on actual evidence. By showing how the terror of rape and massacre cut across many more cleavages of East Pakistani society than Pakistani and Bengali nationalists like to admit, her book is at once a correction of the record and a tribute to the virtues of humanistic scholarship. Written with courage and searing honesty, it will reset the terms of debate regarding this dark chapter in the region's history.(A. Dirk Moses, European University Institute, Florence, and the University of Sydney)
Combining rigorous scholarship and a passionate interest in setting the record straight, Dead Reckoning is the finest study yet of the social, cultural, and political meaning of the 1971 East Pakistan/Bangladesh war. Sarmila Bose writes in the service of the truth. We are in her debt.(Stephen Cohen, author of The Idea of Pakistan)
I have felt the need for a dispassionate account of the Bangladesh war ever since witnessing that triumph of faith over fact, the Mujibnagar independence ceremony. No one can take on that challenge better than Sarmila Bose, whose courage, disregard for orthodoxy, and meticulous research makes her the enfant terrible of Indian historians.(Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, columnist and author of Waiting for America: India and the United States in the New Millennium)
Sarmila Bose's powerful and poignant retelling of the birth of Bangladesh exposes the wounds of civil war and international conflict in a way that has not been done before. This is history as told by participants at the grass roots and it dispels many myths that have been fed by faulty memories of the so-called elites in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Her book should help the people of both countries accept the facts of that tragic and bloody separation of 1971 and to take responsibility for the war that stained the verdant Bengali countryside red.(Shuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia Center, The Atlantic Council in Washington DC and author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within)
Bose has written a book that should provoke both fresh research and fresh thinking about a fateful turning point in the history of the subcontinent.(Martin Woollacott Guardian)
A significant intervention into the historiography of the Bangladesh War of 1971.(Amber Abbas H-Memory)
About the Author
Sarmila Bose is senior research fellow in the politics of South Asia at the University of Oxford. She earned her degrees at Bryn Mawr College and at Harvard University and combined her academic and media work while serving as a political journalist in India.
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My brother was shot dead by Razzakar and bihari group in june 1971 who knew his name was # 1 in the list of Pakistani opposition. He did not run away but fought from my village. I saw the liberation struggle as a university student. Chuknagar is 30 miles from my home, Jessore 25 miles, Khulna 11 miles. We have seen and suffered. The ultimate truth is this : The power struggle between Bhutto and Mujib took the country to such a messy situation, that an explosion was bound to happen and Pak army started the war of liberation, definitely not Mujib, who refused to join the war of liberation on March 25th night. The criminals, like Tikka, Farman Ali lived a happy life without any punishment but the major players Mujib, Bhutto and Indira Gandhi all had to die at the hand of their own people. I hope Sarmila Bose bring about an expanded version of her pioneering work with more information and let the younger generation know the true story, not the gossip of those criminals who looted before and after liberation, in the name of liberation and politics. Hats off to Bose.
Read and be aware of perspective.
If history is written by the victors, Bose writes for the losers. Thus, there should be no claim towards unbiased perspectives. There is novelty in writing a 'losers' history', and this may be a task well worthy of doing, but Bose does so at a cost: the cost of those who were systematically murdered and raped by the military arm of the Pakistan Government. In claiming, such atrocities--even though they were carried out repeatedly by a military force that conducted itself in manner akin to that of a junta force--were the works of select disgraced members of the Pakistani army, Bose does a great injustice to the history of Bangladesh. This being said, her exploration of Bengali revenge massacres carried upon the Biharis is well worth reading, and is significant in light of Bangladesh's current inner turmoil regarding their domestic War Crimes Tribunal.
The book is exceptionally significant as it brought about evidences and eye-witness statements from both the parties, with an in depth analysis of the popularly believed narrations and literatures available. Bose did the meticulous job of cross-checking the materials and extracting the most reliable and authentic information from therein. It's a great work, probably the most unique among its types from a pure academic perspective!
Totally in conflict with the information sent to President Nixon and Sec of State Henry Kissinger as documented by said US Ambassador in the blood telegram.