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The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World

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A landmark study that offers an alternative history of the Cold War from the point of view of the world's poor. '"Europe" is morally, spiritually indefensible. And today the indictment is brought against it…by tens and tens of thousands of millions of men who, from the depths of slavery, set themselves up as judges.'--Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism Here, from a A landmark study that offers an alternative history of the Cold War from the point of view of the world's poor. '"Europe" is morally, spiritually indefensible. And today the indictment is brought against it…by tens and tens of thousands of millions of men who, from the depths of slavery, set themselves up as judges.'--Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism Here, from a brilliant young writer, is a paradigm-shifting history of both a utopian concept and global movement--the idea of the Third World. The Darker Nations traces the intellectual origins and the political history of the twentieth century attempt to knit together the world's impoverished countries in opposition to the United States and Soviet spheres of influence in the decades following World War II. Spanning every continent of the global South, Vijay Prashad's fascinating narrative takes us from the birth of postcolonial nations after World War II to the downfall and corruption of nationalist regimes. A breakthrough book of cutting-edge scholarship, it includes vivid portraits of Third World giants like India's Nehru, Egypt's Nasser, and Indonesia's Sukarno--as well as scores of extraordinary but now-forgotten intellectuals, artists, and freedom fighters. The Darker Nations restores to memory the vibrant though flawed idea of the Third World, whose demise, Prashad ultimately argues, has produced a much impoverished international political arena. 12 b/w photographs.


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A landmark study that offers an alternative history of the Cold War from the point of view of the world's poor. '"Europe" is morally, spiritually indefensible. And today the indictment is brought against it…by tens and tens of thousands of millions of men who, from the depths of slavery, set themselves up as judges.'--Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism Here, from a A landmark study that offers an alternative history of the Cold War from the point of view of the world's poor. '"Europe" is morally, spiritually indefensible. And today the indictment is brought against it…by tens and tens of thousands of millions of men who, from the depths of slavery, set themselves up as judges.'--Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism Here, from a brilliant young writer, is a paradigm-shifting history of both a utopian concept and global movement--the idea of the Third World. The Darker Nations traces the intellectual origins and the political history of the twentieth century attempt to knit together the world's impoverished countries in opposition to the United States and Soviet spheres of influence in the decades following World War II. Spanning every continent of the global South, Vijay Prashad's fascinating narrative takes us from the birth of postcolonial nations after World War II to the downfall and corruption of nationalist regimes. A breakthrough book of cutting-edge scholarship, it includes vivid portraits of Third World giants like India's Nehru, Egypt's Nasser, and Indonesia's Sukarno--as well as scores of extraordinary but now-forgotten intellectuals, artists, and freedom fighters. The Darker Nations restores to memory the vibrant though flawed idea of the Third World, whose demise, Prashad ultimately argues, has produced a much impoverished international political arena. 12 b/w photographs.

30 review for The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    An absolute favorite for understanding current global affairs and how we got here, so I have to give a worthy review: Preamble on Vijay: --As in his lectures (highly recommended, see below), Vijay Prashad has such mastery of articulating overarching social issues, drilling down to give detailed examples before resurfacing to tie the ideas together. So well-read, articulate, and with so much humanity... an inspiration. --Prashad brings to life the side of history that is censored, the anti-colonial An absolute favorite for understanding current global affairs and how we got here, so I have to give a worthy review: Preamble on Vijay: --As in his lectures (highly recommended, see below), Vijay Prashad has such mastery of articulating overarching social issues, drilling down to give detailed examples before resurfacing to tie the ideas together. So well-read, articulate, and with so much humanity... an inspiration. --Prashad brings to life the side of history that is censored, the anti-colonial movements that shook 20th century power structures against all odds, their triumphs and their setbacks. --Main concept = class analysis of the independence movements, revealing the short-term contradictions that escalated into long-term constraints. Fair Warning: --This is an in-depth, radical analysis into the roots of global inequities. 1) For liberals: I’m impressed you stumbled across this book, but a “gentler” introduction may be advisable to review the history/economics of “kicking away the ladder” and the power politics behind “free trade”: Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. 2) Vijay Prashad’s lectures are also excellent overviews: -On US empire, wars, and capital accumulation: https://youtu.be/hTb2uVIWG5Q?t=44 -With more details on global south examples: https://youtu.be/DiHtfeof15s -What is the meaning of the Left?: https://youtu.be/M-frUMXKcEw?t=344 -Conversation on today’s capitalism: https://youtu.be/HXhogt3Zq9c 3) Once you’re ready to dive in, I recommend taking hierarchical notes, keeping in mind to highlight the general ideas and use the historical details as case studies; so much information to organize. Since reading my original notes are like reading an entire book, I’ve tried to distill the key themes below... Distilling the Lessons: Censored Successes 1) Universal Human Rights: --Wait, from the global south? Surprised? Didn’t read this in your history books? --Power requires a level of consent, so it appropriates social innovations originating from the bottom. The framing then becomes Enlightened superiors handing down progress to their backward underlings. The logic is rather perverse; which side has the incentives/grievances to push for social change in the first place? --Consider “Liberalism”, which is now associated with its political rhetoric of tolerance (multiculturalism, feminism, human rights). In reality, the world has experienced Liberalism (from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the Enclosures to the Age of Imperialism to today’s global division of labor) by the following definition (going back to Locke): those who developed the land deserve to own the land --Even if we set aside genocidal displacement and accept “development”, the ownership was highly inequitable with most laborers owning little. --In the case of the Third World, sensitive Liberals may put a spotlight on Eleanor Roosevelt’s “human rights” agenda at the UN, ignoring the various Latin American representatives efforts to expand human rights (education, work, healthcare, social security). --Meanwhile, Western Liberals saw the global south as a treasure-trove of valuable resources and cheap/free labor during colonialism. After resistance mounted on these liberal business practices, the view on the global south switched to “overpopulation” fear-mongering. Ah, Liberalism… first you commit genocide, and then you entertain quasi-genocide. 2) Internationalist Nationalism united against Imperialism: --The first 1/3 of this book highlights the solidarity of global anti-imperialism; with a shared history of enduring the teeth of colonialism and the overwhelming imbalance in arms, the global south/"Third World” became the voice of reason on the global stage, using the United Nations (despite its limitations) as a platform. Disarmament has been a key demand, from the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung to the 60s Non-Aligned Movement focusing on nuclear disarmament (which is after all an existential threat to humanity). --Thus, this nationalism's internationalism (united against imperialism) provided space to experiment with cultural development outside of Europe's conception of nationalism. Instead of nativism, there were experiments in multiplicity: a secular state to acknowledge multiple religions, anti-racism to mend colonialism's divide-and-conquer scars, and multilingualism. --A key outcome from experiments in social development is economic justice and global south contributions to Development Economics. For example, UNCTAD's New International Economic Order (NIEO) provided alternative visions to the imperialist GATT (and convenient Liberal smokescreens like “Modernization Theory” which focuses on blaming poverty on “traditional” culture, covering up imperialism forcing dependency through “free trade” and usurious debt). --Economic justice focuses on redistribution of world’s resources + more dignified rate-of-return for labor (including more high-productivity sectors i.e. manufactured goods, instead of relying on exporting raw materials) + shared acknowledgement of the heritage of science/technology/culture. --The 1966 Tricontinental Conference (Africa + Asia + Latin America) during Vietnam’s resistance to American bombardment epitomizes the hope of solidarity (and global diplomacy), which is why Prashad has started the Tricontinental Institute of Social Research. --“[…] who would have thought that by the mid-twentieth century the darker nations would gather in Cuba, once the playground of the plutocracy, to celebrate their will to struggle and their will to win? What an audacious thought: that those who had been fated to labor without want, now wanted to labor in their own image!” Contradictions to Crises 1) Domestic Elites, Class Contradiction, and Cruel Cultural Nationalism: --The central contradiction at the heart of the Third World project was uniting with hostile domestic classes (i.e. landlords, emerging industrial/financial capitalists) in order to prioritize the abolition of colonialism. --While this may have been pragmatic at the start, domestic hierarchies were protected and the contradictions grew. Radical Left groups led anti-colonialism and programs for social development, but domestic elites used them to their benefit and purged them at their discretion. --Using nationalism to fight colonialism thus became perverted, as solidarity increasingly gave way to crude nationalism. --For example, the Sino-Indian border conflicts led to prioritizing militarization; this derailed the global south’s demands for global disarmament and moved various members into the nets of Cold War spheres. --More generally, independence required systemic transformations and great sacrifices to attend to the scares of colonialism and challenge the neocolonialism of global economics. This was not in the class interest of domestic elites, who pivoted to apolitical (safer) market-oriented liberal-globalization “development” (see below). The failures here (rampant inequity, losing economic sovereignty) opened the doors to cruel cultural nationalism, which diverted blame onto visible minorities instead of the abstractions of global division of labor/debt financing etc (reactionary politics 101, as seen in Nazism/Fascism/Global Trumpism). 2) Imperialism’s Dollars: --Liberal economics means private accumulation, which leads to rampant inequities. However, it is much worse for the global south. Forced (often by violent means) into dependency on the loser end of the global division of labor, liberal free trade forces open “free markets” in weaker countries while the stronger countries maintain non-market protection. Open markets prevent domestic planning to build higher-productivity sectors, which requires nurturing before it is ready for global competition (“Infant Industry argument”); this is how the advanced West developed (along with violently smashing competition), in particular Britain and America. Refer to Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. --A key example is agriculture. The global south, without protection to build other sectors and forced to swim in the open seas of the global market (free trade), competes in the global agriculture market with the US. The US creates enormous agricultural surpluses, with its immense technological advantage and privilege to implement strong domestic protectionism. Thus, global market price shocks disproportionally ravage the global south. Would like to read more on the Green Revolution in this context… --Liberal finance (IMF, World Bank), like all private capitalist banking, profits from interest payments (usury). Post-colonial countries are of course in desperate need of capital for their social development projects, but Liberal finance targets the ill-planned projects of global south elites. Falling into debt traps, productivity gains end up going to debt services (interest payments). --"The mecca of IMF-driven globalization is therefore in the ability to open one's economy to stateless, soulless corporations while blaming the failure of well-being on religious, ethnic, sexual, and other minorities." --The 1970s-80s Nixon Shock, Oil Shocks, and Volcker Shock are popular turning point events in Western-centric narratives on the collapse of Keynesianism/Welfare State, but what is unmentioned is the overwhelming costs to the global south’s social development/industrialization projects and subsequent Third World Debt Crisis. 3) Imperialism’s Bombs: --Not only was the radical Left hunted down at home; imperialism (built on divide-and-conquer) provided military/financial/political support for such purges. Strategies for social development became limited and easily perverted by the looming aggression of imperialism. The Eisenhower Doctrine supported monarchs (Saudi, Shah of Iran, Jordan, Iraq) against Nasser Arab socialism and those further Left. The Truman Doctrine ensured the "concept of socialism had to pay the penalty for Soviet limitations.” The Carter/Reagan Doctrine brought proxy terrorism to new heights. In his words: Quoting the beginning of "The Darker Nations": Among the darker nations, Paris is famous for two betrayals. The first came in 1801, when Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Victor Leclerc to crush the Haitian Revolution, itself inspired by the French Revolution. The French regime could not allow its lucrative Santo Domingo to go free, and would not allow the Haitian people to live within the realm of the Enlightenment's "Rights of Man." The Haitians nonetheless triumphed, and Haiti became the first modern colony to win its independence. The second betrayal came shortly after 1945, when a battered France, newly liberated by the Allies, sent its forces to suppress the Vietnamese, West Indians, and Africans who had once been its colonial subjects. Many of these regions had sent troops to fight for the liberation of France and indeed Europe, but they returned home empty-handed. As a sleight of hand, the French government tried to maintain sovereignty over its colonies by repackaging them as "overseas territories." A people hungry for liberation did not want such measly hors d'oeuvres.

  2. 4 out of 5

    kaśyap

    A brilliant dialectical analysis of the political phenomenon of third world and the global political economy. This is an analysis and not a narrative and assumes some rudimentary knowledge of the world history of the 20th century on part of the reader. The main thesis of Parishad is that the third world is a project among the formerly colonised states of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for political, economic and cultural sovereignty and mainly for dignity. It thoroughly examines the major A brilliant dialectical analysis of the political phenomenon of third world and the global political economy. This is an analysis and not a narrative and assumes some rudimentary knowledge of the world history of the 20th century on part of the reader. The main thesis of Parishad is that the third world is a project among the formerly colonised states of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for political, economic and cultural sovereignty and mainly for dignity. It thoroughly examines the major leaders of the third world, their ideologies and the institutions they formed and their struggles for economic and cultural sovereignty. I liked the way the book is structured. The first part titled quest deals with the beginnings of the third world, from the League against imperialism conceived in the Brussels conference and the Bandung conference that happened after many of the third world nations have become politically independent. The second part titled pitfalls deals with the failures of the third world nations through authoritarianism, failures in land reforms, corrupt bureaucracy, failures in socialising production, local opposition from the dominant classes of the old and trying to implement policies without any proper analysis and mass mobilisation. The third part deals with the death of the third world through IMF-led liberalisation of economies and the rise of cultural nationalism in the form of chauvinism, religious intolerance and racism. In each chapter, he also provides a historical analysis of race, class and gender in the specific case. One flaw however is that Vijay Parishad didn’t provide much attention to the people’s struggles apart from just a small mention, especially as this is titled “people’s history”. But I guess this can still be called a people’s history as it offers a view from the global south instead of being Eurocentric. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of international relations, neoliberalism and the global capital.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Prashad’s book is important, though I wouldn’t call it a “people’s history” as it focuses largely on the actions of the leaders of the U.S., U.S.S.R., and “Third World.” He does a good job of accessibly covering the general themes that played out during decolonization, independence and neoliberalism, as well as conceptualizing the Third World as an intentional project. But no book can really get at the dynamics at play over the course of 80 years and three continents. And of course, as anyone in Prashad’s book is important, though I wouldn’t call it a “people’s history” as it focuses largely on the actions of the leaders of the U.S., U.S.S.R., and “Third World.” He does a good job of accessibly covering the general themes that played out during decolonization, independence and neoliberalism, as well as conceptualizing the Third World as an intentional project. But no book can really get at the dynamics at play over the course of 80 years and three continents. And of course, as anyone in 2009 can tell (except Thomas Friedman), it’s not going to be an uplifting story. I’ll just throw in part of my response paper for class: It got me thinking about the ideas of transition and power and how those played out in the Third World. Two consistent themes seemed to be the transition of ideas into action and the transition from armed resistance to national leadership. Prashad lays out example after example of how, sadly, these transitions almost always failed. In particular, I appreciated his analysis of how the FLN in Algeria worked to demobilize the population, failed to take advantage of its knowledge and desire to participate in the development of a new state, alienated them, then tried to appease them, and then Ben Bella was overthrown. Being of a certain political persuasion, I enjoyed his emphasis on the potential (and occasionally tangible) successes of participation and autogestion. It strikes me as both misguided and tragic that the party or forces that inherited the reigns after decolonization believed that a state could be built without popular participation and popular investment. One of my favorite quotes from Battle of Algiers sums this up: “Starting a revolution is hard, and it's even harder to continue it. Winning is hardest of all. But only afterward, when we have won, will the real hardships begin.” If you can’t win liberation without the people, how in the world can you run a state (in a nominally socially just form) without the people? All tangled up in this is of course power - based in the state, the gun, the idea, the masses, the economy, the international scene. Can popular power ever be successfully transferred to state power (and remain popular, just, etc.)? Can the power of an idea ever be transferred into the power of actions that even come close to resembling that original idea? And even if the answer is yes to both - how do you do it after being colonized for one hundred plus years with two superpowers breathing down your neck?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm

    The title unsettled me a bit – but this had received good reviews and the series it is in (The New Press's People's History series edited by Howard Zinn) is really quite good. I am so pleased I read this: it is a cogent, politically charged and engaged analysis of the 'Third World' as a political project. Prashad sees the Third World as a potentially a powerful challenge to but also product of the two worlds of the Cold War, and a movement and concept with enormous promise. He argues that the The title unsettled me a bit – but this had received good reviews and the series it is in (The New Press's People's History series edited by Howard Zinn) is really quite good. I am so pleased I read this: it is a cogent, politically charged and engaged analysis of the 'Third World' as a political project. Prashad sees the Third World as a potentially a powerful challenge to but also product of the two worlds of the Cold War, and a movement and concept with enormous promise. He argues that the concept was weakened by the Third World's oppositionalism – it was defined by what it wasn't – and a fundamental problem of a focus on 'the people' as a largely undifferentiated anti-colonial mass at the expense of class. His concluding case, then, that the Third World as a political project was destroyed by resurgent class and imperialist power using three weapons – IMF related structural adjustment policies, an abandoned social transformation agenda leading to neo-liberal policies at home, and atavistic forms of cultural nationalism and religious anti-nationalism – is powerful and hard to refute. It adds together then to be a major contribution to contemporary history and to analyses of the current global political economy, as well as pointing to many of the weaknesses in the current wave of people's movements. The case that neo-liberal globalisation and cultural nationalism are bedfellows is essential to understanding the current shape of global politics, and one that needs more extensive analysis and exploration. Extremely good, highly recommended (one of my must-reads for the year), the kind of history we need more of.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Liu

    a radical history of the third world. similar in spirit to howard zinn’s people’s history of the us. very thorough and packed full of names, events, facts and figures.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    A classic case of where even smart Marxist history can go off the tracks. Prashad's one of he best writers about Asian American experience and he can be a fiery speaker whose anger about the state of the world, especially white supremacy and economic injustice, is usually on target. I was hoping that The Darker Nations would be the kind of overview that could serve as a foundation for readers wanting to orient themselves to the dizzying range of experiences subsumed under the "Third World" A classic case of where even smart Marxist history can go off the tracks. Prashad's one of he best writers about Asian American experience and he can be a fiery speaker whose anger about the state of the world, especially white supremacy and economic injustice, is usually on target. I was hoping that The Darker Nations would be the kind of overview that could serve as a foundation for readers wanting to orient themselves to the dizzying range of experiences subsumed under the "Third World" terminology. Unfortunately, Prashad assumes that his readers are a. familiar with the frequently turgid vocabulary of Marxist class analysis; and b. in agreement with how he's worked through all the issues. All too often he winds up sounding like a delegate to a hallucinatory contemporary version of the Bandung Conference which he correctly identifies as a key moment in the development of "pan-Third-World" thinking. Problem is that a lot's happened in the interim (much of which Prashad touches on), so anyone who wants to make an impact on the way people outside the very small choirboy think about these issues had better come up with a new approach. In addition to passages that descend into not-particularly-engaging political theory, Prashad has a tendency to elide the differences between various Third World countries in the support of generalizations that simply don't hold up if you know the local histories in any detail at all. It's too bad because he sprinkles in enough real insight, especially into the decay and collapse of the promising post-colonial states into dictatorship and corruption. He makes particularly good use of Fanon. Ultimately, though, the only people who I recommend this book to are those with a solid background in Third World histories and an interest in finding a rhetoric to communicate issues of injustice for whom Prashad will mostly be a cautionary tale of how not to craft a voice.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nidhi Jakhar

    The book presents an erudite narrative on the Third World, which was created as a result of the cold war between the first two worlds. Post World War II, the world changed completely; not only politically but also economically. From the rubble of the war arose two worlds - First World comprising of USA and Western Europe and the Second World comprising of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The colonized nations across Asia, Europe and Latin America fought for independence and amassed as the Darker The book presents an erudite narrative on the Third World, which was created as a result of the cold war between the first two worlds. Post World War II, the world changed completely; not only politically but also economically. From the rubble of the war arose two worlds - First World comprising of USA and Western Europe and the Second World comprising of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The colonized nations across Asia, Europe and Latin America fought for independence and amassed as the Darker Nations or the Third World. Thrown between the compulsions of being loyal to either of the two blocs, the Third World countries led by Nehru, Naseer, Marshal Tito, Nkrumah and Sukarno formed the Non-Aligned Movement at Belgrade in 1961. The book sheds light on how USA driven IMF’s structural adjustment policies completely destroyed the development agenda of the Third World countries as they became pawns in the hands of transnational companies which assassinated their economies, social welfare agenda, and communism ultimately falling into the deep quagmire of debt trap, as a result of neo-liberal policies. Its astounding to know how selfish economics on part of USA and Europe (to lesser degree post WWII) have sought to alter geo-political situations in other parts of the world; turning one against the other for their own selfish interest. The new unipolar world led by hegemony of USA led to the demise of the Third World; which has resulted in a much impoverished international political scenario as all nations made to toe the line drawn by the United States of America.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jon Morgan

    An excellent overview of the Third World as a conscious project, one that started giddily in the newly liberated states but deflated in the face of neoliberalism. Although the book has a broad outlook, it avoids cliche and jargon. The use of chapters that focus on subthemes of how the Third World created itself (e.g. cultural projects, development strategies) allows the book to move quickly while packing in detail and comparative analysis of national and regional situations. A great introduction An excellent overview of the Third World as a conscious project, one that started giddily in the newly liberated states but deflated in the face of neoliberalism. Although the book has a broad outlook, it avoids cliche and jargon. The use of chapters that focus on subthemes of how the Third World created itself (e.g. cultural projects, development strategies) allows the book to move quickly while packing in detail and comparative analysis of national and regional situations. A great introduction to the history of decolonization and a dramatic narrative to boot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    This is an amazing book that tracks the history of the Third World Movement and its foundation of the Nonaligned Movement and how the efforts existed and the story of how it failed. It's such a great read and it would be a great text book for International Relations degrees to get a much more Global South perspective than what you get in the mainstream academia. Anyone in the field should read this book at some point!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Signe

    I'm not really sure what audience Prashad had in mind. As a novice to many of the histories, I was very confused. It doesn't really work as a textbook. The author offers so many case studies with little-to-no background I imagine even scholars would have trouble reading this without a reference guide.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Walker

    Ok...so this is a really good book. It gives a great account of the Third World as a utopian concept. ("The Third World was not a place. It was a project." Prasad writes.) It gives the reader an excellent, encyclopedic knowledge of people, places, groups and and events that are important to the Third World's history. And it gives a decent analysis of the reasons the utopian project that was the Third World failed. I had several major complaints with this book, though. One, despite its title ("A Ok...so this is a really good book. It gives a great account of the Third World as a utopian concept. ("The Third World was not a place. It was a project." Prasad writes.) It gives the reader an excellent, encyclopedic knowledge of people, places, groups and and events that are important to the Third World's history. And it gives a decent analysis of the reasons the utopian project that was the Third World failed. I had several major complaints with this book, though. One, despite its title ("A People's History of the Third World"), the history it tells is very much a top-down history. It is told overwhelmingly though the eyes of the leaders of the Third World (Nehru, Nasser, Nkrumah, Sukarno, Tito, Castro, Nyerere, Michael Manley, Indira Gandhi, Amilcar Cabral, Ho Chi Minh, Chou Enlai, et al.) And while all these leaders should be celebrated and remembered, the fact that it is told through them means it's not really a "people's history". Two, the author places two much of the blame for the failure of the Third World on its own shortcomings. He blames most of the failure of the Third World on its own leaders, even though at least a great deal of the blame should lie with the former colonizers. For instance, in his chapter focusing on Jamaica, he places almost all the blame for the collapse of Michael Manley's experiment in democratic socialism on Manley himself, and his failure to break with the IMF, even though Manley with the target of a CIA-led destabilization campaign that ultimately cost him his office. Three, and this is tied into the second complaint, he fails to give enough credit to the successes of the Third World. His chapter on Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, and ujaama paints it entirely as a stupendous failure even though there were major advances in health care and education under this system of "benign village socialism," to quote Howard Zinn. His dismissal of the achievements of Mexico under Lazaro Cardenas and Bolivia Paz Esstensoro fails to give them their due as well. Four, in the first chapter he flat out denies overpopulation is a problem, and dismisses birth control and family planning as Western neocolonial inventions, despite the fact that lower fertility rates almost always lead to a higher standard of living and are indicative of more women's rights-to say nothing of the environmental impact of too many humans. Five, the book is incomplete, though to Prasad's credit, he anticipates and admits my beef that "This story of the production of the Third World is not going to take us to antiquity or the devastation of the regions that become central to the concept." I happen to feel that a discussion of those things is essential to telling the history of the Third World as Vijay Prasad does. Lastly (and these two reasons are largely intertwined), Prasad dismisses the traditional classes of the Third World completely and insists that Communism/Marxism are the only way forward for the Third World. First of all, he fails to acknowledge the role religion and royalty/nobility, among other traditional groups, played in fighting Western imperialism, both violently and nonviolently. The examples of this that come to my mind (and this is only a microscopic fragment of 1%) include the Rani of Jhansi in India, Emperor Menelik II and Empress Tayta Beytul in Ethiopia, Cetewayo of the Zulus, Yaa Ansaantewa of the Ashanti, Agaja Trudo of Dahomey, Pope of the Pueblo Indians, Queen Lilioukalani of Hawaii and Queen Nzinga in Angola, just to name a few. Also, Prasad's insistence that orthodox Marxism and Marxist dogma are the only way for the Third World dream to be achieved are deeply problematic, to say the absolute least. What about such examples as the democratic Christian socialism of Costa Rica, where abolishing the military led to massive advances in health care, education, and the environment, that would put the first world to shame? What about Botswana? What about Bhutan, shrugging off globalization to embrace Buddhism and "Gross National Happiness"? What about Mongolia, embracing its rich nomadic culture and the history of its hordes, celebrating the legendary conquerer Genghis Khan while preserving the health and educational progress of the Communist era? What about the Jamahiyira system of Libya-while Gaddafi was brutal, who would not want to preserve the gains in material standards of living under him? I am not saying that Marxism is not viable-look at Cuba and Kerala-but Prasad is wrong to insist on it being the only way forward. This leads him to take deeply questionable positions. For one example, he praises the seizure of power in Ethiopia by the brutal Dergue and its psychotic leader Mengistu (he of the "wasted bullet tax") as a great good. For another, he describes Iran's brilliant, enlightened, progressive leader Mohammed Mossedegh as revealing "the shallowness of his class" by undermining the Communist Tudeh Party. It's not a bad book-it's a good book, but it suffers from flawed logic and an incomplete story. You're a very fine historian Vijay Prasad! Better luck next time!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Avani

    Well written, but surprisingly dry for a book by Vijay Prashad. I was a bit disappointed, honestly.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

    "The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World" By Vijay Prashad Review by James Generic The Third World is a Cold War term, meaning mostly former nations that were ruled by Europeans and won their political independence in the decades after the second world war. That's how most people understand it anyway. It started off as a term of empowerment and hope by the leaders of the newly independent countries in the 1950s, after years of trying to bind the colonized into a single cause. "The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World" By Vijay Prashad Review by James Generic The Third World is a Cold War term, meaning mostly former nations that were ruled by Europeans and won their political independence in the decades after the second world war. That's how most people understand it anyway. It started off as a term of empowerment and hope by the leaders of the newly independent countries in the 1950s, after years of trying to bind the colonized into a single cause. These leaders saw that the First capitalist world and the Second Soviet-bloc world needed the Third world for its resources, people, and support in the global cold war, and they did not want to be pawns anymore. The Third World Project started in the 1955 at the Bandung Asian-African Conference, when the Nonaligned Movement was founded (NAM) in opposition to the 1st and 2nd Worlds. From here, the Third World was split by internal divisions, attacks by the West and Eastern blocs, and finally outright destruction of the "Third World" by economic policies pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States, as well as political and military attacks by the USA and its allies. In "The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World" by Vijay Prashad, the history of this push for unity, the contradictions of the class of leaders in trying to build this better Third world, the splits within the movement, and the final assassination of the Third World Project. The book switches between different locations and different situations. Prashad points out that there was a strange contradiction in the work of building a Third World. The ruling class of the decolonized countries supported the new rulers, in many places, who wanted to stand up for themselves. But at the same time, as time went on, they also supported all-powerful dictators and neo-liberal economics that lead to the resources of the country being drained out like vampires (leading to continuation of places which have some of the richest resources of the world and some of the poorest people, like in Congo.) Projects like OPEC started as the "darker nations" tried to control their own politics, though it soon disintegrated into just rulers enriching themselves. In the end, they worked better with ruling classes of the 1st world than the people of their own countries. Prashad goes to each place, from Singapore, to Indonesia and Suharto, to Baghdad, and explores the rise and fall of the Third World. Today, he ends, the Third World is dead. However, an international movement, free of imposed movements from above or directly by the elites of the government, has arisen and the world is changing to oppose the US. The book is an interesting look at an attempt by the leaders of former colonized places to fight back, though it can be a little disorienting traveling across so many places so fast (which is probably what trying to organize all those places to act together would have been like.) How the First World was able to destroy this movement is a pretty good lesson of history for any person to know.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sidne

    Not really a peoples history of a history of those in power/ those who had the ability to make any sort of difference (good or bad). People aren't mentioned (as in the masses) which seems to marginalize them more. Interesting concept of the Third world as a project rather than a place, explains why these places are still behind today. Explains how capitalism was able to grow (ie. how the US came to dominate everyone/everything). Of course it's impossible for these countries to become Not really a peoples history of a history of those in power/ those who had the ability to make any sort of difference (good or bad). People aren't mentioned (as in the masses) which seems to marginalize them more. Interesting concept of the Third world as a project rather than a place, explains why these places are still behind today. Explains how capitalism was able to grow (ie. how the US came to dominate everyone/everything). Of course it's impossible for these countries to become mini-Americas...there is NO ONE that they can exploit/ they don't have the ability to exploit anyone or siphon their goods. helps to also destroy this idea too that stupid American students need to be enforcing American neoliberal social justice on these people as well (this, among many other books, will show you why)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    This book was informative and thought-provoking, but fitting the histories of sixty countries on three different continents into a single 300-page book was kind of an impossible proposition. I felt like too many details were skated over, and while I appreciated the way the author tried to follow specific thematic threads across countries in each chapter, the timeline jumped around a LOT. At the very least, this book needed a glossary of the many acronyms and leaders involved, and some visual This book was informative and thought-provoking, but fitting the histories of sixty countries on three different continents into a single 300-page book was kind of an impossible proposition. I felt like too many details were skated over, and while I appreciated the way the author tried to follow specific thematic threads across countries in each chapter, the timeline jumped around a LOT. At the very least, this book needed a glossary of the many acronyms and leaders involved, and some visual aids -- maps, timelines, something to help give a sense of the overall structure so that readers can approach each aspect from a more confident perspective. Still, the book is well worth reading if you are patient and persistent, and it's a topic and perspective that gets too little attention.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emmanuel-francis

    A riveting read brought low by the constraints of ideology. Cherry picked facts abound and while he is sharp-eyed in identifying the failures of competing ideologies, he quibbles around his. Outpaced by the events of history. It, however, does an excellent job portraying an oft-ignored viewpoint and some of its critiques hit home. Warily recommended, a text which despite its flaws will leave your shibboleths challenged. A bellwether quote: "What the elites who were produced by this proj ect saw A riveting read brought low by the constraints of ideology. Cherry picked facts abound and while he is sharp-eyed in identifying the failures of competing ideologies, he quibbles around his. Outpaced by the events of history. It, however, does an excellent job portraying an oft-ignored viewpoint and some of its critiques hit home. Warily recommended, a text which despite its flaws will leave your shibboleths challenged. A bellwether quote: "What the elites who were produced by this proj ect saw as constraints, their parents' generation would have seen as the necessary architecture for the production of freedom . The new generation of structural adjustment wanted the accoutrement of advanced industrial capitalism without a sense of the historical process that makes this possible."

  17. 5 out of 5

    J. Moufawad-Paul

    I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it failed to live up to the subtitle. This is not to say that there weren't good parts in this book, only that Prashad failed to really give a People's History of the Third World. This is most probably because, as I later learned, Prashad isn't really on the side of the people when it comes to places like India where he does not support, unlike Arundhati Roy, the Naxal uprisings (which have a long history––yes a people's history) and instead endorses I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it failed to live up to the subtitle. This is not to say that there weren't good parts in this book, only that Prashad failed to really give a People's History of the Third World. This is most probably because, as I later learned, Prashad isn't really on the side of the people when it comes to places like India where he does not support, unlike Arundhati Roy, the Naxal uprisings (which have a long history––yes a people's history) and instead endorses a very anti-people discourse about them. Sigh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I will use this as a text again as my students find it the most illuminating book of unknown world history they have ever read. It is the book I have been waiting for as a professor who always hoped to find a political history of the "Third World" from the points of view of some thoughtful people who live there. Read the other reviews on goodreads. They all have the same praise. Fabulous.

  19. 5 out of 5

    msondo

    Not quite as engaging as I hoped it would be but it provides tons of great info on the development of the "third world." It paints a very different picture of the non-first world than what we are probably used to seeing on television screens and newspaper articles.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bram

    Great story about how peoples in the Global South challenged imperialism and developed a third option to capitalism and communism.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    In The Darker Nations, Vijay Prashad’s objective seems deceptively simple: to recount the history of the post-World War II era through the perspective of those who have lived under imperialism, the so-called “Third World”. Yet by nuancing and specifying his definition of the “Third World”, the author is able to provide an account that is not a mere reflection of or reaction to the First and Second Worlds, but represents a culturally authentic and independent product of anticolonial thought and In The Darker Nations, Vijay Prashad’s objective seems deceptively simple: to recount the history of the post-World War II era through the perspective of those who have lived under imperialism, the so-called “Third World”. Yet by nuancing and specifying his definition of the “Third World”, the author is able to provide an account that is not a mere reflection of or reaction to the First and Second Worlds, but represents a culturally authentic and independent product of anticolonial thought and resistance. Taking a cue from Frantz Fanon by conceptualizing the Third World as a “project” rather than a “place”, he adopts the term as one representing an internationalist movement that sees their brethren as anyone who experienced colonialism and is now anti-colonialist, denoting it explicitly as a cultural project rather than a political one. He notes that the First World disparaged the Third while the Second saw it as merely a pawn where individuals were unable to “lead their own movements [or] craft their own history”, yet is also critical of the term “non-aligned movement”, since it denies unification based on cultural and economic similarities and focuses instead on a political unity that seems unrealistic. The scholar’s ultimate goal is to explain how and why a project based around notions cultural independence and social egalitarianism failed ultimately to realize its goals. In his brief, yet engaging, introduction, Prashad lays out the nature and structure of his argument, which is divided into three sections: “Quest”, “Pitfalls”, and “Assassinations”. “Quest” relates the history of the Third World project by discussing its intellectual foundations, as well as the key meetings and happenings that translated into meaningful action and tangible results. “Pitfalls” picks up after these successes and highlights the difficulties encountered by national liberation movements as they made the transition to independence, as well as the active attempts by the First World to terminate the project. This disrupted the unity both within and among nations that the Third World needed to survive. Finally, “Assassinations” chronicles the events that led effectively to the death of the Third World and, with it, its aspirations and opportunities for genuine egalitarianism and cultural autonomy. Each chapter is titled after a particular location wherein either an important milestone or development representative of broader trends within the Third World occurred. His first two – Paris and Brussels – are the only ones to take place outside of the traditional geographical definition of the Third World. The first, occurring in the aftermath of World War II, outlines the development of the idea of the “Third World” from the perspectives of all three “Worlds”. The second jumps backwards chronologically and examines the February 1927 League against Imperialism conference, which established the tenets of anti-imperialism, yet also highlighted the initial signs of political disunity, as tensions arose between those who felt that nationalism could be a stepping stone to socialism and those who felt that it should be avoided altogether. Prashad’s next stop is the April 1955 Bandung Conference, the culmination of the League against Imperialism’s efforts to bring together anti-colonialists under a common banner. This conference sought to overlook differences between these anti-colonial nations and emphasize those elements that they shared, such as their history under colonialism, their continued oppression under imperialism, their refusal to be dominated, and their hopes for transforming the world system. The latter, it believed, was possibly only if all Third World nations banded together in a broad, all-encompassing movement, which was what the conference attempted to create. Ultimately, and despite the eventually coalescing of a powerful bloc within the United Nations, the author sees Bandung as a failure because it could not resolve (or even acknowledge, when one considers the nations that were not invited) the elements of disunity between the nations and was unable to come to a consensus on a pragmatic system of economic and cultural cooperation, even though the nations agreed that these should occur. He supplements this analysis by using the 1961 Afro-Asian Women’s Conference of Cairo as a way of highlight both women’s contributions to anti-colonialism and the ways in which they were vulnerable to marginalization despite the supposed egalitarian nature of the movement. His primary objective here is to highlight the mutual interests held by the women’s and Third World movements as groups oppressed by First and Second World economic and social domination. The chapter on Buenos Aires moves towards the more theoretical end of the spectrum, as it is the home of Raul Prebisch who, in 1949, asked how the Third World could escape the economic system established by imperialist nations. The answer led to the birth of development economics, which was the idea of moving from the production of raw materials to manufactured goods through either capital investment or import-export legislation. This eventually became another pillar in the foundation of the Third World project yet, in the aftermath of World War II, Third World nations did not receive the same aid as Western Europe, since the First World believed that “modernization” was required before development could occur. The Third World retorted that it was colonialism, not traditionalism, that was stunting growth, and thus the First World had an obligation to repair the damage that it had done. The aid that did arrive did not fix structural problems, since the First World would rather donate than rethink its political and economic position, and thus ignored Third World demands and encouraged capitalism, stymieing the growth of socialism in the process. Prashad’s Tehran chapter, meanwhile, highlights the idea of “Occidentosis”, which infected the Third World under colonialism and caused a cultural crisis by leading “Easterners” to believe that they are somehow inferior to “Westerners”. Methods of attempting to remedy this led to questions about how to engender genuine cultural autonomy given the inability to engage (and insufficiency of) a return to an indigenous, precolonial past. There were also concerns about the impossibility of bringing the scientific heritage of the Enlightenment into new spaces without dragging European culture with it and the difficulty in engaging nationalism, democracy, and rationalism without the cultural baggage of the west. The most notable result to come out of this thinking was the improvement in literacy rates, as nearly everyone agreed that mass literacy was essential to the creation of autonomous culture. The 1961 Non-Alignment Movement Conference, held in Belgrade, took the focus away from economic and cultural unity and shifted it into the territory of political unity that would prove ultimately to be untenable. Even the seemingly agreeable idea of peaceful co-existence could not work, given practical realities. Prashad concludes the “Quest” section in Havana, where the 1966 Tricontinental Conference brought militarism directly into the equation and based solidarity on the notion of a shared armed struggle. The “Pitfalls” portion, meanwhile, picks up in Algiers, where the state found it troublesome to demobilize the masses after it won its armed struggle against its colonizers. The difficulties the national liberators faced in attempting to negotiate the views of the people with their own led to one-party rule, a trait that the author sees as common among many similar states as they were afraid of losing what they had fought so hard to earn. This, according to Prashad, was the first of many unfortunate consequences of the Third World project’s shift towards politics and militarism, since it drove a wedge between the movement and its support and often ended up in situations and cycles of repression and revolt. The theme of militarism continues in Bolivia, where a genuine socialist movement found itself in need of capitalism in order to survive. This made it one of many places where the movement became vulnerable to First World intrigues that, instead of overthrowing regimes, attempted to undermine state radicalism by coopting the military and hoped to develop the country through “military modernization”. While states could have survived this by nationalizing the military or building a militia, most were too insecure in their position to do anything but demobilize the population. He also restores a degree of agency to Third World coups, distinguishing between “generals’ coups” that came as a reaction to national liberation movements in an attempt to “stop the clock” and, allegedly, prevent the undue influence of socialism, and “colonels’ coups”, which occurred in situations where there was no national liberation movement and was about privileging an emerging class. The chapter on Bali, meanwhile, continues the author’s exploration of the debate on whether or not communist movements should ally with nationalist bourgeoisie in pursuit of liberation and argues that even though the former played pivotal roles in the movement, they often ended up being repressed by the latter. Such actions were considered “internal affairs” within the Third World and never impacted a nation’s status within the non-aligned movement. Prashad’s Tawang chapter examines not only how the internalization of First World nationalism led to an obsession with borders that often set Third World states against each other, but how it allowed chauvinism to be aired publically and encouraged funds to be spent on military development rather than much-needed state building projects. This ended the Third World’s objective of peaceful cooperation by driving its constituent nations apart and drew it closer to the First World due to its increase need for military aid. Caracas, meanwhile, demonstrates how oil was the Third World’s greatest resource, yet the people could not reap the spoils because extraction and refinement required initial capital outlays that only the First World could provide. Furthermore, due to the developments mentioned earlier in this section, the profits that did arrive were concentrated in the hands of a small elite rather than the population as a whole. This process drove a further wedge between the ruling class and its population and brought the elites of these nations even closer to the First World. The author concludes this section with a chapter on Arusha, where he makes his running theme explicit by demonstrating the impossibility of implementing “socialism from above”, because it inevitably led to authoritarian imposition, which in turn engendered dissent. Prashad perceives that, plagued with all these problems, it was only a matter of time before the Third World met its end. He begins his “Assassinations” section in New Delhi, which was host to the 1983 Non-Aligned Movement Summit Conference and a debate on how best to address the problem created by superpower détente and general economic stagnation. Cuba’s Fidel Castro argued that the state should intervene more to help the people, while Singapore’s Sinnathamby Rajaratnam favored an increase in private initiative. Most nations either sided with Rajaratnam or were indecisive, both of which gave the First World an opportunity to tighten its control over their economies through globalization and exploit the rifts in Third World unity. As countries became indebted to the International Monetary Fund, national liberation movements lost economic independence, one of their foundational pillars. The author’s Kingston chapter demonstrates this process in action and explicates upon the economic processes that allowed the IMF to demand that nations loot their own resources and infrastructure to make payments on debt, thus preventing any genuinely socialist projects from coming to fruition. The success of East Asian nations, as noted in the Singapore chapter, led to questions about Third World desires to transform the world order, but Prashad digs deeper into the issue and demonstrates how this wealth was engendered only through economic alliances with the First World that robbed these countries of their political sovereignty. Even then, although they profited from this dependency for many years, they too eventually suffered. The author concludes his study in Mecca, where fundamentalism and tribalism arose under the World Muslim League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to replace Third World nationalism and communism. This was a reaction by newly privileged classes to calls for egalitarianism and often, in their quest to eradicate competitor movements, had a deleterious effect on the population. Overall therefore, The Darker Nations is a comprehensive account of the rise and fall of the Third World as a project that is told almost exclusively through the lens of those involved, which grants a significant degree agency to those who lived in the Third World. Despite its complexity and the occasional economically-nuanced section, the book is mostly intelligible to non-specialists due to its sufficient (if uneven) recapitulation, although it is unlikely to be accessible enough to be of great value to the casual reader, since the author’s objectives are often not stated clearly. For the postcolonial scholar, however, it is an essential and engaging read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Powers Wersch

    This book changes the way I teach the Third World/non-aligned movements in the context of the Cold War & decolonization. Prashad discusses how the Third World nations reappropriated that term (Third World were nations that fought against imperialism, rather than "everyone who wasn't capitalist or communist/socialist); he gives them more agency as players within the Cold War and not just "the rest to be won over by the U.S. or USSR;" and he critiques the pitfalls and shortcomings of these NAM This book changes the way I teach the Third World/non-aligned movements in the context of the Cold War & decolonization. Prashad discusses how the Third World nations reappropriated that term (Third World were nations that fought against imperialism, rather than "everyone who wasn't capitalist or communist/socialist); he gives them more agency as players within the Cold War and not just "the rest to be won over by the U.S. or USSR;" and he critiques the pitfalls and shortcomings of these NAM movements. I took 15 pages of notes on this book and have asterisked many of his examples to research more on my own. The last section of the book covers economic history (IMF & World Bank) pretty heavily (which is harder to track), but his analysis of political and social history is exceptional. His writing style is easy to follow, a good balance between academic and conversational. He is able to both praise and critique, sometimes condemn, the nationalist movements/regimes/Third World (and he's even more critical (appropriately) of the U.S.) Here is an example of what I love about this book: “Nationalist regimes romanticized the tribals and dispossessed them (or else confined them into reservations euphemistically called national parks)...The tribals, or rural peasants, would be a symbol of the nation, but they would not inhabit the nation. They remained outside it, either to be confined or else converted, but not to be considered as full citizens.” pg 83 This has given me a more dimensional and nuanced perspective of the NAM states, which in turn makes me a better historian and teacher. I can't recommend this book enough.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Basil Alsubee

    Mostly fantastic analysis, but part generalizations that don’t really work on closer inspection (see: the author’s superficial take on religion in the post-colonial world, an unneeded addendum to a fantastic critique of IMF-driven globalization in the last chapter). Still, a very valuable document of the roots of global poverty that incorporates political, economic, and at its most exciting moments, post-colonial theory and culture. Hardly much of a “People’s History” though; maybe it’s a People Mostly fantastic analysis, but part generalizations that don’t really work on closer inspection (see: the author’s superficial take on religion in the post-colonial world, an unneeded addendum to a fantastic critique of IMF-driven globalization in the last chapter). Still, a very valuable document of the roots of global poverty that incorporates political, economic, and at its most exciting moments, post-colonial theory and culture. Hardly much of a “People’s History” though; maybe it’s a People’s History insofar as that implies Prashad’s focus on economic and political power concentrated in “the people” as an end goal. Very much worth reading for people who still subscribe to neoliberal thought in 2019.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amany Al Sayyed

    Pan Africanism, Bandung, global south solidarity in the 60s explained like a creative writing project which meets the academic task beautifully A

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily Gilbow

    Informative and eye-opening

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Zu

    IMF globalization ended third-worldism

  27. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I couldn't decide between 3 or 4 stars. Before I read this book, I was expecting to hear a new perspective on third world battleground between the U.S and U.S.S.R, but even though the focus is different the author accomplished a lot more than I expected. The subject of the book is what Prashad calls the Third World Movement, or Non-Aligned Movement, that really began to take shape after World War II through the efforts of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ahmed Sukarno, etc. I couldn't decide between 3 or 4 stars. Before I read this book, I was expecting to hear a new perspective on third world battleground between the U.S and U.S.S.R, but even though the focus is different the author accomplished a lot more than I expected. The subject of the book is what Prashad calls the Third World Movement, or Non-Aligned Movement, that really began to take shape after World War II through the efforts of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ahmed Sukarno, etc. Prashad focuses on how initially dramatically different countries were able to work together to form the basis of a non-aligned movement in the face of the Cold War. But from the beginning he knowledges that this movement has failed, and in large part of the book he analyzes internal and external forces that caused what Prashad calls the demise of the Third World. For me this was a good books because it was more of primer/introduction than anything else. I have never heard of people like Sukarno and Nehru, and the only things I was every thought about people like Fidel Castro were his bloody purges. There is so much in this book that the whole time I was reading it I would either make a note of book he mentioned or source because I wanted to know more. Prashad spent a lot of time on specific countries to illustrated wider trends in the Third World but on many other things he only grazed the top. I liked and disliked this because If I wanted to spend I lot of time reading about the Third World Movement this book points me in a lot of good directions and introduces me to a lot of important issues like authoritarianism, Communist parties in other countries, the IMF, etc. But it's only an introduction. I never felt that the details or subject matter was that "deep." The latter half of the book I found most interesting because it dealt with the issues that led to the collapse of the Third World. Prashad spent a lot of time on how authoritarians, the murder of Communist elements, war between states (China and India), oil, and rushed socialism projects were all obstacles that the Third World encountered but could have over come if it were not for the section he calls "Assassinations." In the final section Prashad goes over how the IMF, and Western neocolonialism was just as important in killing the Third World. Probably what interested me the most was the final section which focused on Whabbism in Suadi Arabia and what he calls revanchist traditionalism. A Re-traditionalizing of countries to counteract Western influences, but it just alienated people from women, minorities, and other non-aligned states. Maybe Prashad did a much better job than I am giving him credit for because he now has me interested in reading more about the Third World Movement, but I just felt that this book lacked teeth.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rick Goff

    This fast-paced, erudite argument regarding the creation, rise and demise of the Third World was a very challenging read for me, as a result of my ignorance of geopolitical history and economic history. The Third World arose as a term to describe the remainder of the world (about 2/3 of its population) that was not covered under the labels First World (NATO) and Second World (Warsaw Pact) as they were defined in a speech by - who else - Winston Churchill. Each chapter of Prashad's book is This fast-paced, erudite argument regarding the creation, rise and demise of the Third World was a very challenging read for me, as a result of my ignorance of geopolitical history and economic history. The Third World arose as a term to describe the remainder of the world (about 2/3 of its population) that was not covered under the labels First World (NATO) and Second World (Warsaw Pact) as they were defined in a speech by - who else - Winston Churchill. Each chapter of Prashad's book is entitled with the name of a Third World city. In many cases, these chapters describe a conference or event where significant impact was made on defining an agenda for the countries of the Third World (such as the Non-Alignment Movement). I confess that even some of the titular names were unknown to me when I began reading. In fact, almost of the factual information given in the history was new. So there was a lot of new information for me in this book. However, the book is not intended to inform, but rather to persuade. It would be ridiculous for me to try to reduce the argument of this book to any single sentence, but here's one from the Conclusion that I think might serve as a handle on much of what precedes it: "The cultivation of cultural nationalism as the social cement in an otherwise-political wasteland is a cause and consequence of the collapse of the Third World." - Vijay Prishad

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zachariah

    Enjoyed the book. The downsides were organization and clarity. On a couple of occasions I really had no idea what he was talking about, nor what he was getting at exactly. Mostly in the Tehran chapter and the chapter on Mecca. Seems like there was another but can't remember at the moment. Anyway this could have been my lack of knowledge concerning the Middle East as well. The way it was organized however, just seemed terrible to me. Each chapter is broken down into one particular city pertinent Enjoyed the book. The downsides were organization and clarity. On a couple of occasions I really had no idea what he was talking about, nor what he was getting at exactly. Mostly in the Tehran chapter and the chapter on Mecca. Seems like there was another but can't remember at the moment. Anyway this could have been my lack of knowledge concerning the Middle East as well. The way it was organized however, just seemed terrible to me. Each chapter is broken down into one particular city pertinent to the overall history of the Third World, but within the chapter he's all over the place, regionally and historically. It reminded me of Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America in that regard. Which is funny because he gives praise for the book on the back cover. Anyway it provides a very thorough history of the Third World and their post colonial struggle. Gave me much to think about. Wouldn't call it a people's history but regardless I though it was good. And it's hard to think and type when your cat keeps jumping on your keyboard so I believe this concludes my review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This was a fascinating read, and it gave a different perspective on a number of historical trends and events. Its structure is awkward, though, and Prashad seems married to the concept of arranging the chapters around cities in which events took place even if the city has little to do with what the chapter is actually about, thematically. This leaves the reader sometimes confused about the significance of what is being discussed in each chapter. There is also a level of inconsistency in that This was a fascinating read, and it gave a different perspective on a number of historical trends and events. Its structure is awkward, though, and Prashad seems married to the concept of arranging the chapters around cities in which events took place even if the city has little to do with what the chapter is actually about, thematically. This leaves the reader sometimes confused about the significance of what is being discussed in each chapter. There is also a level of inconsistency in that some chapters feel clearly organized and logical, and some chapters feel like the author threw a bunch of events together and called it a chapter. Despite these limitations, this is an illuminating book with valuable alternative perspectives on the "Third World."

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