Reviews and Media Coverage
Advance Praise (Palgrave Macmillan edition):
“With narrative verve and meticulous scholarship, Manu Bhagavan tells an important though underappreciated story. He paints a vivid group portrait of the first generation of modern Indian leaders and thinkers, illuminating how they drew from the ideals of their ancient civilization and their victorious struggle for independence the basis for their country’s foreign policy at a pivotal moment in world history”—Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution
“A powerful re-examination of Indian concepts of international affairs during the era of independence. Bhagavan has written an outstanding book, which helps us understand not just India’s foreign policy, but also how concepts of non-alignment and human rights — often created by Indians — pointed to a world beyond the Cold War”—Odd Arne Westad, Author of The Global Cold War and Director of IDEAS at The London School of Economics
“In today’s era where national self-interest reigns supreme, Professor Bhagavan’s revisiting of India’s fight for independence and the formation of the United Nations, reminds us that when collective goals are aligned, much can be accomplished. The Peacemakers is an eloquent statement on how global peace can be achieved through a commitment to our interdependence and a clear understanding that everyone’s freedom and prosperity are inextricably linked. Interwoven in this smoothly flowing historical analysis are inspirational accounts of the invaluable role women play in the co-creation of a peaceful future. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit courageously and tirelessly lobbied on behalf of those without a voice, educating the world about the need for a unified global governance that prioritized human rights above all else. And while we remember Eleanor Roosevelt well, we must also remember the pivotal role that India’s Hansa Mehta and Madame Pandit played in the crafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during the UN’s formative years. As The Peacemakers reminds us, India’s vision was towards “world peace and the enlargement of human freedom.” How appealing yet distant this vision is today. Professor Bhagavan shows us a clear roadmap that can be taken again if we only so choose”—Pam Omidyar, Founder and Chair of the Board, Humanity United
“This riveting story recovers one of the most important moments in India’s relationship to the world at large. It captures the extraordinary passion with which a remarkable group of men and women dared to dream of “One World” founded on justice. It vividly describes how this high idealism was matched by an equally adroit political rhetoric that catapulted India to moral leadership. The book combines dramatic flair with rigorous and pathbreaking scholarship. It is a must read for anyone interested in India’s role in global affairs”—Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
“In this vividly written page-turner, Manu Bhagavan recovers a moment of extraordinary possibilities … [and] renews the study of how human rights norms were put on paper, with great consequences for their revival today”—Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History
“The Peacemakers is a welcome and compelling challenge to sterile consensus about the kind of ideas that guide India’s world view. Bhagavan excavates the record of India’s formative years to reveal the extraordinary internationalism that guided the republic’s founding figures. Universalism and not narrowly constructed Third Worldism, Bhagavan demonstrates in this ground-breaking work, inspired India’s early international engagement. For Gandhi and Nehru, Bhagavan argues, the pursuit of one world and respect for human rights were integral to the construction of democratic India’s concept of sovereignty”—C. Raja Mohan, columnist, The Indian Express
“Manu Bhagavan has written an important book which documents the central place of human rights as India achieved independence. Written with grace and verve, The Peacemakers is the inspiring story of how principles that gave birth to the Indian state animated its constructive role setting the agenda for the United Nations. That One World vision has yet to be realized but India’s leadership could once again move humanity toward a more just and peaceful condition. This is a book that should be required reading for all who care about the potential of India to advance human rights and international justice”—Jonathan Fanton, Emeritus Chair of the Board of Human Rights Watch and President Emeritus of the MacArthur Foundation
“This seminal book uplifts the role of one of India’s most extraordinary leaders, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. It is invaluable to discover that India’s independence, and indeed the field of human rights, owes an enormous debt to the intrepid Madame Pandit. Her bold leadership, augmented by unwavering support from the NAACP in creating a new just world order, allows us to re-imagine the possibility of big dreams and new partnerships to build a better world in our time”—Mallika Dutt, President and Chief Executive, Breakthrough (Bring Human Rights Home)
“[O]riginal and elegant … truly mind-expanding and compelling”—Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor and Director, Ralph Bunche Institute, CUNY Graduate Center
“Brilliantly researched and vividly written, Manu Bhagavan’s study of India’s role in the ongoing quest for human rights is a life-enhancing book urgently needed now. Filled with new information and startling surprises, this splendid book highlights the often neglected fifty-year struggle of Gandhi, Nehru and his visionary powerful sister—Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit—Hansa Mehta, and others, to live in “larger freedom” and promote a future without empire, poverty, exploitation or war. As we contemplate this moment of violent insanity on every continent, alternative paths toward peace in a world united for justice are herein profoundly illuminated”—Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, vols 1–3
Reviews and Media Coverage:
“Now in a stunning discourse on the evolution of India’s policy as a champion of One World, Manu Bhagwan [sic] sums up various phases of India’s Quest…. That policy developed under the inspiration of Gandhi and Nehru and its advocacy was carried out passionately at the United Nations from its very inception most of all by Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal’s sister. In his systematic and highly illuminating narrative, the author takes us back to the formative years of India’s Constitution from 1946 to 1950 and… highlights the ways in which Gandhi and Nehru worked together to create a coherent vision of external affairs for the new Indian state.”–Noted diplomat Lakhan Mehrotra in The Book Review, India. Read the whole review here.
“The pace of the writing reflects the urgency of these times – the clamour for an international consensus on universality of human rights, the realpolitik between US and Britain on the colonialism question and Lord Mountbatten’s fasttracking of the British departure from India…. Bhagavan’s incredibly impressive work, which extended over twenty archives all over the world, shows not just what ideas about human dignity migrated, but answers important questions about how and why this “migration” happened…. In addition to providing a fascinating account of the multiple registers on which law and politics engage, Bhagavan provides a historical context for the emergence of several grand debates around the notion of human rights…. Worth a close read.” –Kalyani Ramnath writing in the Law and Other Things Blog. Read the complete review here.
The Peacemakers discussed by Nitin Pai in an essay on “Governing the Global Village” in The Business Standard. Read it here.
The Peacemakers mentioned in an article by Rohan Mukherjee in The Hindu Business Line on India, the United Nations, and current affairs. Check it out here.
“‘The Quest for One World’ from the Indian perspective is an eternal ideal…. Bhagavan’s archival research is extensive and commendable. The language is lucid…. It is almost like a short novel, which maintains the interest of the reader right up to the last page…the book is a must read…. –Strategic Affairs. Read the whole review here.
The Peacemakers named one of the top ten “books that made 2012 special” and a “must read” by former Indian External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh in India Today! Check it out!
“This book got critical acclaim and was considered as one of most original work [sic] on the history of India’s international relations. Easy to read (I will compare its fluidity with the writings of J K Rowling), I myself finished the book in two sittings. It is also hugely engrossing since it appears more of a story rather than a deeply complex scholarly work and that my friends is the most amazing asset of this book. But most importantly, it is a work which is based largely on primary resources and therefore, tells you the level of effort which went into the research for this book”–CIPOD Realists Blog.
“The United States’ contribution to expediting the end of the Raj has usually been underplayed or ignored. The author tries to rectify this distortion by dwelling at length on powerful Americans who made a great difference — President Franklin Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor, the Republican Wendall Wilkie, Nobel laureates Pearl S Buck and Albert Einstein, human rights activists such as Walter White and WEB DuBois, Roosevelt’s successor Harry Truman, and many others”–The Pioneer. Read the whole review here. GandhiServe also posted this review up on GandhiTopia for discussion.
The Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) runs a story about the “brilliantly researched” Peacemakers, picked up in The New York Daily News, Zee News, The Hindustan Times, The Pune Mirror, The Siasat Daily, The Deccan Herald, Sify News, NRI Press, The Sentinel, The New Delhi Post, The Hans India, and The South Asian Times!
Check out my interview with Ruchira Singh on CNN-IBN!
“Bhagavan has done a splendid job weaving sound research, interesting details and good writing to create a fine history of post-Independence India”–The Speaking Tree. Read the whole review here.
Check out my interview with Nitin Pai on INI9.
The Peacemakers is reviewed on the DilliBilli blog. Check it out here. This is a modified version of the review that appears in the Mail Today paper (see below).
Author Madhusree Mukerjee reviews The Peacemakers in Frontline, one of India’s premiere national magazines! Check out the full review here.
Check out the transcript of my live chat on CNN-IBN!
Time Out Mumbai features The Peacemakers! Check it out here.
“Meticulously researched and lucidly written, Manu Bhagavan’s The Peacemakers resuscitates the Gandhi-Nehru ideal of ‘One World’ that has, over the last 50 years, been dismissed by policy makers and that political establishment as an idea that had outgrown its relevance”–Mail Today (India). Search the paper’s site to read the whole review from 22 April 2012.
“For the last two decades, as India reformulated its engagement with the world to take into account both its growing international clout as well as the end of the Cold War, a key issue has been the foundations on which this reformulation should rest…. Manu Bhagavan’s deeply researched and well-written account injects a necessary dose of substance into a question that has hitherto been debated more on faith than knowledge”–The Indian Express. Read the whole review here.
“Priceless book on India’s visionary role in global affairs”–Afternoon Despatch and Courier. Read the whole review here.
Economist Bibek Debroy tweeted on 1 May: “Read Manu Bhagavan’s “The Peacemakers”, HarperCollins, 2012, Rs 499. Great book.” Check out Bibek Debroy on Twitter here.
The Peacemakers is a “print pick” in The Hindu newspaper! Click here to see coverage.
The Peacemakers generates some discussion from Nitin Pai, advocate of “realist foreign policy” and founder of the Takshashila Institution and Editor of Pragati-The Indian National Interest Review. Check out his “review by tweets” here.
The Peacemakers gets some coverage in The Asian Age newspaper. Click here for more.
The Peacemakers is mentioned in Businessworld! Check it out here.
The Peacemakers is a “Book of the Week” on the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), picked up on many news sources, including the Official E-Zine of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Click here to check it out!