Myrdal's "Asian Drama" (Review Article)

Jan Tinbergbn


The publication by one of Europe's greatest scholars about the
world's most important problem area is an event of the first order. The
scholar I mean is Myrdal and the area South-Asia. I am happy to offer
some comments on this book, called "Asian Drama", with the well-chosen
subtitle "An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations" [1], both because of
its merits and because of the challenges it contains to somebody so
sympathetic to the author's view and at the same time so full of doubt
with regard to a number of methodological issues raised. The book covers
an impressive multitude of subjects and is fascinating in many respects.
It brings a good deal of history of the area, from before its political
independence obtained after World War II, to to-day and gives a lot of
interesting background information in Chapters 4 and 5 on how the
frontiers of the countries were established. It gives pictures of the
great leaders of in¬dependence, Gandhi (pp.92, 754-55 for some striking
elements), Nehru and Jinnah. It deals extensively with the backgrounds
and consequences of Parti¬tion (Chapter 6) and with the not-too-good
role the French and the Dutch played (p. 226) in their

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