Why are educated young men and women from the West joining extremist organisations like ISIS? Why are we seeing the rise of aggressive right-wing politics in countries like India, Turkey, and USA, the expansion of Islamist terror, massacres in Western metropolises, wars in the Middle East? And in what way are these diverse politics of anger and violence connected?
Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra Mishra goes back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to trace the roots of the hatred, racism and violence widely seen today.
Extremely relevant and timely, this new work comes at a point when we have been witness to some of the biggest global political events – events that have opened our eyes to a world that we no longer recognize or can explain. From Trump to Brexit, the unfathomable has become alarming reality.
In this powerful book, that the Financial Times described as a violent, bowel-churning kick in the guts, Mishra argues that the roots of our age of anger lie in the great economic and political revolutions of the late 18th and early 19th century—their promise of freedom, equality and dignity through growth, industrialization, and nation-building—and the traumatic social and political changes they paved in their way.
‘I wrote Age of Anger out of the conviction that history, far from ending, took a dangerous turn in the age of globalisation, and that we had to re-examine the modern world, this time from the perspective of those who in the previous two centuries came late to it, and felt, like so many do now, left, or pushed, behind,’ said Mishra.
The groundbreaking book looks for answers among the militants of the 19th century – angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, revolutionaries in Russia, chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists in France and Spain. It is in examining their fears, resentments and hatreds that we can truly understand our own age.
With advance praise pouring in, John Banville called it “[An] urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely study and likened Mishra’s ideas to those of Isaiah Berlin, John Gray and Mark Lilla. Joe Sacco who has called it “the most astonishing, convincing and disturbing book I’ve read in years.”
For Mishra, an acclaimed author of six books of fiction and non-fiction, this is his most ambitious work yet.