Brazilian Elections — and a Query about Brazilian and Indian Politics

Michael Barone has a interesting post about the Brazilian election.

He notes state-by-state voting differences. Mr. Barone is of course renowned for his extraordinary knowledge of regional and local voting patterns, and their underlying ethno-cultural-religious-economic causative factors, primarily in the USA but also in Europe.

However as to Brazil, even the mighty Mr. Barone notes: “I’m not aware of the regional differences or issues that account for these very different results.”

Brazil is a large and increasingly important country about which many of us know nothing beyond “The Girl From Ipanema”. This situation really must be rectified.

Which writer knows all about Brazil? Who among our readers can give us a “five best books” list? Who is the David Hackett Fischer of Brazil? Is there a “Lusitania’s Seedlings”? If so, is it translated into English? Is there an Almanac of Brazilian Politics?

And in a similar vein, India is the world’s largest democracy. It is organized along federal lines, with state and national governments. Some of India’s states are bigger in size and population that European countries. It is going to be an increasingly major player in the world. And yet, and yet … I know too little about it. So, again, what are the best sources to make sense of Indian politics? A short book list? Websites? Especially on regional distinctions and the fundamentals of Indian politics.

We are going to need to pay more and more attention to these enormous and increasingly important democratic countries in the future.

Time to get educated.

Suggestions, please.

(And please circulate this query to anyone who may have an answer it.)


The only books on India I have here at home are:

Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Thy Hand Great Anarch!
George Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb
D.K. Palit, War in High Himalaya: The Indian Army in Crisis, 1962
Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

I have not read any of them yet, though all look good.

I have a long list of books on �want list� about India, which I have seen favorably referred to in one place or another, listed below.

Any thoughts on the merits or demerits of any of these would be appreciated.

Charles Allen Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North West Frontier

G.D. Bakshi The Indian Military Revival: The Saga of the Fateh Shibji

A. L. Basham The Wonder That Was India; A Survey Of The Culture Of The Indian Sub-Continent Before The Coming Of The Muslims (1954)

Christopher A. Bayly, D.H.A. Kolff, eds. Two Colonial Empires: Comparative Essays on the History of India and Indonesia in the Nineteenth Century (1986)

Christopher A. Bayly Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire (The New Cambridge History of India)

Owen Bennett Jones Pakistan: Eye of the Storm

Judith Brown Modern India: The Origin of an Asian Democracy

Bipan Chandra India After Independence: 1947-2000

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury India�s Maritime Security

Brian Cloughley A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections, With a New Chapter on the Kargil Issue (2000)

Stephen P. Cohen India: Emerging Power

Randolf Cooper The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India: The Struggle for Control of the South Asian Military Economy

Jim Corbett, Verrier Elwin, S’alim Ali Lives in the Wilderness: Three Classic Indian Autobiographies. Jim Corbett: My India; Verrier Elwin: The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin; S’alim Ali: The Fall of a Sparrow

Gurchuran Das India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Indepenence to the Global Information Age

Saul David The Indian Mutiny: 1857

Gurcharan Das India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age

Louis Dumont Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications (Rev. English Ed., 1998)

Ainslee Embree, ed. Sources of Indian Tradition

Abraham Eraly The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India’s Great Emperors

Rosita Forbes India of the Princes’ (1939)

Bamber Gasgoigne The Great Moghuls

Sumit Ganguly Conflict Unending: India-Pakistan Tension Since 1947

David Gilmour The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj

John Gaylor The Indian & Pakistan Army, 1903-91: The Sons of John Company

James Grant Cassell’s Illustrated History of India (2 Vols) (1885)

Husain Haqqani Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military

Abrar Husain Men of Steel: 6 Armoured Division in the 1965 War: War Dispatches of Major General Abrar Husain

Francis Hutchins The Illusion of Permanence: British Imperialism in India (1967)

Owen Bennett Jones Pakistan: Eye of the Storm

Denis Judd The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj

Sunil Khilnani The Idea of India

Bharat Karnad Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy

John Keay India: A History

John Keay The Honourable Company – A History of the English East India Company (1991)

M. Asghar Khan We’ve Learnt Nothing from History: Pakista, Politics and Military Power
Edward Luce In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India

Iris Macfarlane Daughters of the Empire: A Memoir of Life and Times in the British Raj

Philip Mason A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, Its Officers and Men

Amandeep Singh Madra, Parmjit Singh Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition

R.C. Majumdar, ed. History and Culture of the Indian People (10 vols)

R.C. Majumdar The Sepoy Mutiny and the Revolt of 1857 (1957)

General V.P. Malik Kargil: From Surprise to Victory (1999)

Pratap Bhanu Mehta The Burdens of Democracy

S.L. Menezes Fidelity and Honour: The Indian Army from the Seventeeth to Twenty-first Century

Pankaj Mishra Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond

C. Raja Mohan Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India’s New Foreign Policy

Sir Penderel Moon The British Conquest and Dominion of India (2 Vols)

Jan Morris, with Simon Winchester Stones of Empire – The Buildings of the Raj (1983)

David E. Omissi The Sepoy and the Raj: The Indian army, 1860-1940

Thomas R. Metcalf Ideologies of the Raj

D.K. Palit The Lightning Campaign: The Indo Pakistan War

Ravi Rikhye The War That Never Was: The Story of India’s Strategic Failures [1947-71]

Stephen P. Rosen Societies and Military Power: India and its Armies

Sumit Sarkar Modern India, 1885-1947

Amartya Sen The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

Sunil Kumar Sen The House of Tata, 1839-1939

Harbakhsh Singh War Dispatches�Indo-Pak Conflict 1965

Khushwant Singh Sex, Scotch and Scholarship: Selected Writings

Major General V. K. Singh, Leadership in the Indian Army: Biographies of Twelve Soldiers (2005)

Eric Stokes, Christopher A. Bayly, ed. The Peasant Armed: The Indian Rebellion of 1857 (1986)

Romilla Thapar History of India

Gillian Tindall City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay (1982)

B.R. Tomlinson The Political Economy of the Raj, 1914-1947: The Economics of Decolonization in India

Ashutosh Varshneg Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India

Alan Warren Waziristan, the Faqir of Ipi, and the Indian Army: The North West Frontier Revolt of 1936-37

Stanley Wolpert A New History of India (5th ed.)

22 thoughts on “Brazilian Elections — and a Query about Brazilian and Indian Politics”

  1. Off the cuff I can tell you only two things about Brazil that have anything to do with politics:

    1)The murder rate is 150 per day. That’s more killings than in Iraq. American troops out of Brazil, now!

    2) In Germany a name like Lula would get a guy beaten up in every schoolyard, business office and government building I can think of, in Brazil it gets you elected president. Those Brazilian guys might be a bit light in their beach sandals.

    PS: The thong bikini originated at the Copacabana. God bless Brazil!

  2. I have seen favorable references to the Keay book.

    Ralf, for all I know, Lula is a very manly-sounding name in Brazilian Porguguese. As to the thong bikini, for all my admiration for the female form, I think that for virtually all women, virtually all of the time, it would be more flattering to leave quite a bit more than that to the imagination. Murder rates in these giant third world conurbations seem to be astronomical as a general matter, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, wherever you look. The Brazilians from time to time send the army into these places to try to restore some kind of order. Trying to govern a place like Brazil in any kind of rational way is a pretty big challenge. I would not want Lula’s job, that’s for sure.

  3. I don’t know much about Brazilian politics but I can tell you that the Brazilian consulate is in my building and that the elevators are often full of Brazilians. I can sum it up in two words:

    French. Hygiene.

  4. Lex – Great, or at least co-blogging, minds think alike (sometimes, heh). My offshore cow-orkers are from guess which two countries? — and I’ve been wanting to ask them for good histories for a while now. Will let everyone know what, if anything, I come up with.

    I can imagine Brazil having a “Lusitania’s Seedlings.” India has about ten times as much history and concomitantly greater ethnic and linguistic diversity, so it could be a toughie. Have you read Volume 1 of the Durant?

  5. Jay, let me know what turns up.

    Agreed there can be no “Seedlings” for India. It is too big, too old, etc. Still, there might be a good, empirical, hardnosed study of Indian politics since the founding, an Indian equivalent of Barone’s “Our Country”. That would be worth reading.

  6. The breakdown in latin america is usually along indian/european lines. Brazil has that and alot of descendants from african slaves so that’s a third element alot of lat-am countries don’t have.

    A good source on the web would be the blog.

  7. Lex,

    (Cough) Despite having studied Portuguese, under a Brazilian no less, I am without much in the way of good book recommendations on Brazil. Both Latin America and India are weak areas for me as well I fear.

    I’ll ask around though.

  8. Mark, thanks. It is pretty amazing.

    There are these BRIC countries, which we all think are darned important. Educated people who are interested in international politics and economics is a fair description of the audience I am thinking of. To generalize, such people know lots about Russian history, though less about what is going on over there now. They are familiar with the large volume of writing about China, which is of uneven quality and reaches inconsistent conclusions. India is at least on the mental map, but really not well known at all except for expats and enthusiasts or people with a concrete interest in the place. Brazil is a nearly blank slate.

    Not good. Germany, France, even Japan, are the countries of the past. China and India are at least an order of magnitude larger in terms of population, and potential power and influence.

    We need to get our heads around all this.

  9. A great place to start is V S Naipaul’s “India: A Million Mutinies Now”. Another great book, even though it’s fiction is “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie. The latter is of course highly acclaimed. The former has not gotten its due — I personally think its a seminal piece of work

  10. Rudyard Kipling? Obviously VERY dated, but I can’t help but read Ballad of East and West and think “If these are the types of people who’ve run Afganistan and India all these years, no wonder that part of the world is so messed up!”

  11. Ralph Peters’ “A Home In The World” part of a series of travelogue/country studies he did for the Marine Corps’ CETO Institute (Indonesia, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) is an excellent intro to India in the post 9/11 world.

    Additionally, “In Spite Of The Gods” is a great read about India, warts and all, and sheds light on the everyday struggles of common Indians, though it makes IMHO a bad mistake in overlooking the many minorities (of whom there are substantial ones, like Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims) that help make India the empire-state it is. (sorry I bought it in Hong Kong last month, but the American version comes out in January as the Amazon link attests).

    “Temptations of The West” is excellent as well, very easy to read and offers profound observations of the challenges of modernization and the faultline of racial/ethnic/religious tensions.

    Biggest problem about Indian books is everyone invariably seems to pick a side about Kashmir and/or its bloody origins, which turns off the other side and usually leaves Amazon reviews skewed because of the ongoing debate.

    A suggestion for anyone reading about India, there is a wonderfully helpful wide-ranging group of Indian bloggers out there who can point you to specific books or themes worth reading.

    Re: Brazil

    Marshall Eakin’s “The Once & Future Country” is a good introductory read into Brazil, and he does a fine job of leading into the defining questions of Brazil, like regionalism, race relations, endemic corruption and crime, etc.

    Boris Fausto’s “A Concise History” is great background reading for history, politics, economics, etc.

    :The Brazilians” is the finest work on Brazil I’ve yet read, and encompasses so much of the Brazilian culture and history note-taking is a requirement to avoid missing valuable insights that you will see at play when reading current news and analysis about Brazil.

    If you’re interested in the “Hidden Unities” concept advanced by Ralph Peters, Moises Naim, etc and studied en masse by Afro-Latin-American professors of all stripes, “Brazillian Pop Music & Globalization” is a good primer on the biggest cross-cultural lifelines between America & Brazil.

  12. Lex, my distinct pleasure. The kind of opportunity based vision you show in this post is all too rare.

    One last note: when reading about India keep in mind her neighbords, she is in a rough neighborhood and that I feel will be the single biggest roadblock to any “big” foreign policy initatives by them, they’re too busy dealing with their own bloody neighbors in the subcontinent “Gap” (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal).

    Domestically, the Naxalite and other Maoist insurgencies, etc, are a drag on resources and attention that could really go elsewhere.

    Which means lots of opportunities for low-key, humble mil to mil and security force assistance from the US, provided we can sell it right to the Indians.

  13. Eddie, did I understand you correctly — Does Ralph Peters have papers on “Indonesia, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe”? I looked on the CETO site and could not find them? Do you have links? The India piece is very substantial, 71 pages, and very good so far, though I have not been able to do more than skim it.

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