What We Are Reading Today: Emergency Chronicles

Updated 11 March 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Emergency Chronicles

Author: Gyan Prakash

On the night of June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India, suspending constitutional rights and rounding up her political opponents in midnight raids across the country.
In the 21 harrowing months that followed, her regime unleashed a brutal campaign of coercion and intimidation, arresting and torturing people by the tens of thousands, razing slums, and imposing compulsory sterilization on the poor.
Emergency Chronicles provides the first comprehensive account of this understudied episode in India’s modern history. Gyan Prakash strips away the comfortable myth that the Emergency was an isolated event brought on solely by Gandhi’s desire to cling to power, arguing that it was as much the product of Indian democracy’s troubled relationship with popular politics.
Drawing on archival records, private papers and letters, published sources, film and literary materials, and interviews with victims and perpetrators, Prakash traces the Emergency’s origins to the moment of India’s independence in 1947.


What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe by Sheri Berman

Updated 21 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe by Sheri Berman

In Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe, Sheri Berman traces the long history of democracy in its cradle, Europe. 

In her study of European political development over more than 200 years, Berman, a professor of political science at Barnard, shows that the story of democracy in Europe is complicated. 

“The ultimate goal, she believes, is liberal democracy, with elections, respect for the rule of law, individual liberties and minority rights. But that is a rare, and hard-won, achievement. A step forward is often followed by a step back,”  said Max Strasser in a review published in The New York Times.

“This may seem a bit obvious to anyone familiar with the broad outlines of European history, but Berman makes the case clearly and convincingly. Moreover, at a moment when hyperventilating over the decline of democracy has grown into a veritable intellectual industry, her long-view approach comes across as appealingly sober,” Strasser added.