Age of Anger

Pankaj Mishra, over the last few years, has become one of my favorite social commentators. I love reading his op-eds, essays on books, articles in publications both Western and not. I also look to him for great commentary on globalization, whether through book talks, lectures, panels or Q&A’s. This is the first time I picked up a book from him. After seeing RSA talk my interest was piqued and I wanted to jump into the book.

After finishing the book, I’d say you’re probably just as well off watching him talk about the book or reading reviews and essays about it.

The book is confusingly organized. There is no clear reason to why chapters are structured the way they are, why timelines jump back and forth, why some writers are grouped together, while others are brought up in multiple, unconnected places. I liked the introduction and closing chapters, and Mishra’s discussion of Modi and Hindutva politics the most. The sections of the book that described things like the French revolution or Turkish modernization were less impactful, for me. Perhaps because I’m more familiar with globalization topics or Indian politics, these sections landed with heavier weight for me.

In the end, there were many parts of this book I loved, where I learned many new things about figures from history or contemporary political movements. The deeper context of populism, rebellious political figures, the men of history, like Bakunin, who fueled their rise through oppositionism, were all fascinating to learn about. I just wish the packaging had been done in a way that allowed for easier understanding as a reader.