Three books that are an absolute must read for the times we live in

Masha Gessen needs no introduction. One of the finest journalists and writers of the generation whose seminal work on Russia and Putin will be recorded in history. A staff writer with the New Yorker, Gessen’s book provides rare insights into the world of Putin , Russian oligarchy and the dangerous world of the deep state.

This book does not just give an insight into Russia under Putin turning into an authoritarian kleptocracy but also helps us understand and recognize the warning signs of totalitarianism as the war on Ukraine changes the way we look at crimes against humanity.

 

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Donald Trump, Vladmir Putin, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Viktor Orban, the era of populist demagogues finds its roots in a combined history of hatred, religious nationalism, organized militias to create one of the most turbulent times in World history. Pankaj Mishra is no stranger to history and weaves together the narrative of organized hate in the world, that acts as fodder for the rise and rise of bigots and dictators. Mishra is the intellectual for our times and the Age of Anger is testimony to his compelling writing and arguments

 

 

I was a teenager when my father gifted me this book by historian and public intellectual, Edward Said to understand the middle east peace process, the Palestinian conflict and the dehumanizing of a population whose land and lives have been occupied by a powerful oppressor. Said has been hailed as one of the ‘most eloquent and visible voice of the Palestinian struggle in America’. In one of the chapters in the book, Said speaks emphatically about the need for distance and context while covering conflict. As a Muslim covering the genocide and communal riots in India who first hand witnessed one of the worst communal carnages in the history of the country, Said spoke to my restlessness. In the introduction of the book, he says ‘Our best writers, intellectuals, and artists are either silenced and tamed or imprisoned and in exile. Arab journalism is at an all time low. Unpopular opinions are rarely expressed, and in nearly every society the media exists basically to further the regime’s own version of reality’

This is a quote from a book published twenty five years ago but every word resonates with India and other fascist regimes in the world. A book for the times we live in

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Author: Rana Ayyub