There are few things in life more enjoyable than finding out what is on Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s bookshelf. Granted, reviewing the list makes one feel (at least makes me feel) seriously under-read. But the list is nevertheless full of gems, some hidden and others not. Pratap has some kind words for my new book, When Crime Pays, but focus instead on the slew of social science books on India he has rounded up.
Here’s the relevant paragraph:
But this year, the most significant books also happen to be written by friends and colleagues. They are so compelling that one has to put aside the awkwardness of mentioning friends. So, with this full disclosure, it was a joy to read my colleague Srinath Raghavan’s India’s War (Penguin) about a breathtaking intervention in Indian history; Vinay Sitapati’s Half Lion (Penguin) started a serious scholarly debate on Narasimha Rao; Shiv Shankar Menon’s Choices (Brookings) is Indian foreign policy thinking sober, not drunk. Devesh Kapur, Nirvikar Singh and Sanjoy Chakravarty’s The Other One Per Cent (Oxford University Press) is not just the best study of Indians in America, it has profound implications for understanding India’s elites; Nandini Sundar’s The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar (Juggernaut) is a reminder of how awfully our states can fail. Just as the year was ending, Milan Vaishnav’s magnificent When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (Harper Collins) arrived. This book examines why we vote for criminal politicians. Prerna Singh’s How Solidarity Works (Cambridge) has won more social science awards than any recent book in American academia; it asks, is sub-nationalism good for service delivery? For stimulating ethnographic and meditative reflection on moral lives, it was rewarding to engage with Bhrigupati Singh’s Poverty and the Quest for Life (Chicago).
You can read Pratap’s entire piece here.