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 Policy: "Central to this failure has been ignoring the inherent connection between internal freedom and external aggression." - Unknown

CAN ASIANS THINK?

By:
Kishore Madhubani

Reader Review

Kishore Madhubani is a career dimplomat, and this shows, particularly in the later editions of the book, which he seems to be using to pursue his policy goal of getting USA to behave more responsibly. To my mind, this is the only shortcoming in an otherwise excellent book. The later editions (such as this) include some new essays, and some of the original ones have been removed.


 


CAN ASIANS THINK?
[Understanding the Divide between East and West]

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DIVIDE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

 

I bought the first edition of this book some 4-5 years ago, mainly for its provocative title, and the very obvious Asian face on the cover. Reading the book slowly over a period of two months, across several journeys, I was deeply impressed by the clarity of thought, and the unique perspective that the author offered.

Kishore Madhubani is a career dimplomat, and this shows, particularly in the later editions of the book, which he seems to be using to pursue his policy goal of getting USA to behave more responsibly.

To my mind, this is the only shortcoming in an otherwise excellent book. The later editions (such as this) include some new essays, and some of the original ones have been removed.

The book is structured as a collection of essays, based on talks or articles which Madhubani gave or wrote over a period of time. However, this does not affect the quality of the book adversely, as his perspective remains unchanged, though evolving.

'Can Asians Think' helped give me a new perspective on the differences between the East and the West. It also helped me work out that the Western way was not the only one, and it may also not be totally and automatically relevant in East. We therefore need to go back and think how (and in what conditions) a particular Western solution emerged, before accepting it or evaluating it.

This is particularly important, as there is a kind of 'thought imperialism' generated by the publishing industry in the West, which tends to swamp out non-Western ways of thinking. The strong publishing industry has also resulted in commercialisation of the intellect across the modern world, which may not be such a good thing for the future of the world.

Typically for an Eastern mind, Kishore Madhubani does not quote statistics or studies in support of his arguments. Not being tied down by the need to prove the validity of his arguments, he is able to develop and put across his perspective with ease. This also allows the reader to take him as a trusted friend rather than an intellectual adversary.

(Read and compare The Geography of Thought by Nisbett to see what I mean in terms of writing style). Also the book is full of insights. I particularly recommend the Ten Heresies of journalism (An Asian Perspective on Human Rights and Freedom of the Press). Another gem on population control (Asian Hordes) is contained The Dangers of Decadence: What the Rest Can Teach the West.

All in all, a good book, and one that deserves the popularity it has achieved.

Kishore has now come out with a revised edition: Can Asians Think - Understanding the Divide between East and West.

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