Pankaj Mishra’s From the Ruins of Empire ambitiously attempts to unite Asia intellectually, and such an enterprise is bound to face insurmountable odds.

Mishra might argue that it’s merely about how the de-colonisation of Asian countries was preceded, in the 19th century, with the stirrings of intellectual de-colonisation. Specifically, he says that the Islamic Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the Chinese Liang Qichao and the Indian Rabindranath Tagore were first to intellectually reject the West; that this happened even before the 1905 defeat by Japan of Russia, a historical watershed demonstrating that the white man was not invulnerable; and that their ideas, rooted in “going back to one’s roots” influenced one another and subsequent Asian thinkers till de-colonisation became inevitable after World War II.

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