Global Infobabble

By Sunil Kumar

The three tectonic shifts for news in India this year have been; Demonetization, Brexit and Trump. Although the latter two are significant only for the reams of global newsprint devoted to discussing their implications; demonetization is the only thing that has really ruffled Indian feathers greatly.

A recent trip to England found me in the delectable environment of an ancient educational centre; Cambridge. With delightful smiles and three wonderful books picked up for my reading pleasure; a Western worldview again percolated down my mental filter; although I would hasten to add; that despite their British prism; the books were interesting reads; and informative.

Roman empire in 117 Roman Empire Contested ter...

Visit Roman empire in 117 Roman Empire Contested territory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A.N Wilson’s Victoria- A Life explained in great detail; the idiosyncrasies of the fat visage I had seen in some photos; and in Kolkata’s Victoria memorial; another British enterprise cleverly funded by Indian money.

ITV‘s Victoria reignited my interest in this former ruler with a more youthful, bubbly lady playing the part. It is strange how a lot of the world’s history was shaped by the actions of an insecure woman on a bleak island on the far corners of Europe. India and the Empire nevertheless contributed to the substantial British wealth that was used in the Crimean War against Russia; and contributed to the dangerous German jealousy instrumental in the World Wars; and large-scale human genocide.

Mary Beard‘s SPQR was a fascinating glimpse into another pet trope; and pillar of Western thought; the Roman empire. Debauched and murderous emperors; debating senators; the Roman love for luxury; slavery; the vast gap between the patricians and the people; Beard’s book was another long read; but frankly is now more useful in understanding the Roman cultural context; and Hollywood’s Roman movies; including the historically incorrect but inspiring “Gladiator”. Have yet to see Spartacus.

Peter Frankopan with “The Silk Roads” filled in the gap between the Roman empire and Victoria; with a major chunk of the book devoted to the Eastern part in Byzantium; the Islamic caliphates; Central Asia; the Mongols; and the great game between Britain and Imperial Russia.

Will put up more interesting reads on my website; as and when time permits. Till then; wishing myself; more happy reading!


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