Understanding Bangladesh

September 2010 9781850659976 480pp
Out of print
September 2010 9781850659983 480pp


Bangladesh, a Muslim majority nation with a population of some 154 million people, receives little notice in the West, other than when political upheaval or natural disasters bring it to our attention. In Understanding Bangladesh, an account of the political and economic experiences of the Bangladeshi state and its people, S. Mahmud Ali seeks to redress that imbalance. His book identifies the key players among Bangladesh’s tiny military, political and business elite, explores the attempts to establish their authority in a crowded field, and considers the relative merits of their attempts at nation-building. Ali concludes by outlining both the remarkable achievements recorded by this land of unusual narratives, and the elemental challenges its burgeoning populace faces in the years ahead, among which is a resurgent and highly politicised form of militant Islamism.


‘A compelling account of Bangladesh’s history, politics and culture. Understanding Bangladesh is a significant contribution to the growing scholarship on this South Asian state. It will be a great resource for students of South Asian history and politics.’ — Contemporary South Asia

‘This richly detailed book traces the evolution of Bangladesh as an independent state since 1971. Drawing on a wealth of primary and secondary sources in English and Bengali, as well as insights based on the author’s personal experience of some of the events discussed, it covers in chronological order key developments vital to any understanding of the country’s politics, economic policies and external relations. At the same time, the book also addresses historical factors that have shaped groups and ideas in Bangladesh which notwithstanding their place at the margins of power, have come to define the country’s political landscape. Nor does it ignore emerging environmental and demographic pressures, which the author suggests will represent new challenges that could alter Bangladesh’s landscape yet again. Together they help deliver a narrative that is meticulously researched, soberly argued and set to emerge as one of the most authoritative and complete accounts of a still poorly understood country’.–Dr Farzana Shaikh, Chatham House, and author of Making Sense of Pakistan

‘This latest book will further enhance the author’s reputation, drawing as it does on personal experience and considerable depth of research and dealing with a country of rising importance … a scholarly and detailed chronological account of Bangladesh’s origins and complex development as a new independent country. … I warmly recommend it to anyone seeking insight into this rapidly changing country.’ — Asian Affairs


S. Mahmud Ali served in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi armies, was a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, and at King's College, University of London, and has spent over twenty years as a journalist at the BBC World Service in London. He is the author of several books on regional and global security issues.

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