Book review: “From the Ruins of Empire. The intellectuals who remade Asia” by Pankaj Mishra
By Oliver Stuenkel – Post Western World
Japan’s military victory over Russia in 1905, the first time a non-Western army had beaten a traditional Western power, sent shock waves through the world and energized leading thinkers across Asia. Tagore, Sun Yat-sen, Gandhi, the 16-year old Nehru, the young soldier Mustafa Kemal (who would later become Atatürk) and a schoolboy called Mao Zedong were all ecstatic, dreaming of Asia’s rise. Newborn children were named Togo, in honor of the Japanese Admiral victorious in the Battle of Tsushima. White men, conquerors of the world, were no longer invincible.
This is the opening scene of a new book by Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West (reviewed here). In From the Ruins of Empire, he writes about how Asian intellectuals thought about the intrusion of the West, which pitted Western modernity against Asian traditions, in order to explain his claim that the central event of the last century was the intellectual and political awakening of Asia.