25 Mayıs 2016 Çarşamba


Goodreads on the book:

Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific
In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and their implications for global peace and stability. One of the world’s most perceptive foreign policy experts, Kaplan interprets America’s interests in Asia in the context of an increasingly assertive China. He explains how the region’s unique geography fosters the growth of navies but also impedes aggression. And he draws a striking parallel between China’s quest for hegemony in the South China Sea and the United States’ imperial adventure in the Caribbean more than a century ago...........

My review:

I will call the book as "light reading" for someone who has studied or knowledge in the South Asia. It is not a book with full of information or academic discussions but rather an "observation". In other words, readers are not challenged with many ideas or hypothesis requiring strong academic background. However, it does speak for the experience of a person who has long-lasting and deep knowledge on the subject matter beside strong political and academic "connections" in each of countries mentioned in the book. Overall, I should admit that I liked it.

The book has been divided into several chapters each of which is devoted to countries with stakes in the South China Sea. Stakes are not quite the same for each states: While the One is in the search for upper hand in the balance of power in the region against USA, some others need the control of energy resources. Well, the book could be written by subject instead of country but devoting the chapters to different countries makes it more interesting for ordinary readers who has interest in one of those countries.

Having visited most of the countries with borders to the Sea, I share most of his opinions and perceptions. Yet, I could see lots of people living in those countries and arguing quite the opposite point of views. Well, this could be taken as a strength for the book. 

Only distraction, at least for me, is references to Aristotales and some other prominent figures of political philosophy. Somehow I feel like they are rather artificial. Furthermore, it would have been great to have a chapter at the very beginning devoted to the Convention on the Law of Sea and the terms like territorial sea, EEZ, rights of archipelagic states, continental self or strait with political, military and economic implications. Again with the same style that the writer has used in the whole book. Well, you can't expect everyone to know what those terms refer to and sometimes it is not easy to have a clear idea of who has more legitimate claims in the Area. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and recommend it to those who are interested in the area, those who want to study the topic.

25 Nisan 2016 Pazartesi

Book Review X: The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

Goodreads on the Book:

The Illicit Happiness of Other PeopleOusep Chacko, journalist and failed novelist, prides himself on being “the last of the real men.” This includes waking neighbors upon returning late from the pub. His wife Mariamma stretches their money, raises their two boys, and, in her spare time, gleefully fantasizes about Ousep dying. One day, their seemingly happy seventeen-year-old son Unni—an obsessed comic-book artist—falls from the balcony, leaving them to wonder whether it was an accident. Three years later, Ousep receives a package that sends him searching for the answer, hounding his son’s former friends, attending a cartoonists’ meeting, and even accosting a famous neurosurgeon. Meanwhile, younger son Thoma, missing his brother, falls head over heels for the much older girl who befriended them both. Haughty and beautiful, she has her own secrets. The Illicit Happiness of Other People—a smart, wry, and poignant novel—teases you with its mystery, philosophy, and unlikely love story.

My review:

A very surprising and unputdownable book…
I was not very sure to read it for a while just because I did not want to dig in a mysterious case of a suicide of a boy. You know that subject is not the best one to read nowadays… Frankly speaking, the fact that I run out of my English written books last week gave me the primary reason to read it and once I started reading it, I got amazed with the book and the style of the writer to tell the story. I just caught me at the very beginning and never left until the last page.
It is not necessarily about the specific reasons for the death of a boy. It is a comprehensive study of abnormal psychological conditions of people that change lives even end them. Thanks to the fact that writer is very much well prepared to make an in-depth psychological analysis of his characters, the book provides readers fascinating story in which anyone could find something similar from his own observation of others or even from himself/herself. Psychological matters discussed in the book are not only about life and death but also about fear, expectations, striving for success, sexuality, social taboos etc. So, I consider that the writer dwells upon psychology matters within the main plot very successfully.
The book provides the readers with a lot of references to the philosophy as well. To illustrate, those who are interested in discourses of Ludwig Wittgenstein may remember his consideration of the language as a limitation. He famously quoted that “the limits of my language means the limits of my world”.  Similarly, the book make some bold statements about the limitations of the language when trying to discover the delusions of the main characters.  
Last but not least, readers find very interesting pieces of information about the life in India, culture, social relations, family affairs and struggle of students and obsession about math.

After all, well written indeed. Go and read it without any hesitation…