Book reviews

Book reviews

What do Bangladesh-India geopolitics, an 8 feet tall fence, cross-border coal mining, eunuchs, and neoliberalism have in common? In Boundaries Undermined, The Ruins of Progress on the Bangladesh-India Border, Delwar Hussain straddles these subjects deftly to weave a compelling story of the socio-economic transformations along the Bangladesh-India border, first ushered in by public sector industries, and then by a barely legal coal mining industry. Read more here.

In Why Are We Waiting?: The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate ChangeNicholas Stern expands upon the 2006 Stern Review to offer a timely argument in favour of global action on climate change. As Stern goes beyond economic analysis to discuss the scientific, political, ethical and practical aspects of forging pathways to international cooperation, the book as a valuable contribution to the task of tackling the twin challenges of this century: global poverty and climate change. Read the full review at LSE Review of Books.

There is no alternative to neoliberal economics – or so it appeared when Reclaiming Development was first published in 2004. Many of the same driving assumptions – monetarism and globalization – remain within the international development policy establishment. Ha-Joon Chang and Ilene Grabel confront this neoliberal development model head-on by combining devastating economic critique with an array of innovative policies and an in-depth analysis of the experiences of leading Western and East Asian economies. Full review

In the Third Edition of Non-governmental Organizations: Management and Development, author David Lewis argues that while management theory and practice have received attention in businesses and government they remain understudied in NGOs. This edition to fill a significant gap of understanding how NGOs function and are managed in an increasingly complex global environment. Full review

Global food price spikes in 2008 and again in 2011 coincided with a surge of political unrest in low- and middle-income countries. In some places, food riots turned violent, pressuring governments and in a few cases contributed to their overthrow. Foreign investors sparked a new global land rush, adding a different set of pressures, and the spectre of widespread food insecurity and sociopolitical instability weighs on policymakers worldwide. Food Security and Sociopolitical Stability edited by Christopher Barrett represents a critical and timely contribution to food policy and global security discourses and a launch pad for political action. Reviewed for LSE Review of Books here. 

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's "The Adivasi Will Not Dance" is a short story collection from India's fecund yet ravaged lands — the resource-rich Adivasi-inhabited Jharkhand. Ten stories, refreshingly focussed on women protagonists (though that may not have been deliberate), portray how the curse and blessing of bountiful natural resources intersect with historical trajectories of marginalisation to present-day exploitation and apathy. Read my review here.

Access to water is poised to be the issue future wars will be fought over, especially in the context of global climate change and its current and projected impacts. Daanish Mustafa, a Reader in Human Geography at King’s College, London, argues that the most pressing challenge facing us today is addressing water sufficiency while managing our increasing vulnerability to climate change. In Water Resource Management in a Vulnerable World, he deconstructs this crisis by examining what he terms the “hydro-hazardscapes of climate change”. Full review for New Asia Books

It is estimated that more than 2 billion people depend on smallholder agriculture for their livelihood. Characterised by material and institutional asset constraints, low yields, and labour-intensive farming techniques, smallholders are often criticised for their nonviable scale of operation and inability to compete in a fast globalising economy. On the other hand, smallholders are also seen as key contributors to world food security and natural resource management. Recent experiences also show that some smallholders are successfully diversifying their livelihoods and building agricultural enterprises. New Directions for Smallholder Agriculture edited by Peter Hazell and Atiqur Rahman attempts to negotiate the space between these two camps. In doing so, it provides a case for viewing smallholder farms as resilient units that, if invested in, can contribute to meeting current development challenges and negotiating future climate-related uncertainties. Full review here.

Research for Development offers a comprehensive guide to commissioning, managing and undertaking research in development work. This is a very useful book for students of development research and teachers looking for a robust and engaging teaching tool. Detailed case studies and examples from around the world help bring the guide to life. Full review here.