I must admit to having agreed to review this book with a high degree of trepidation. How could a single volume hope to cover in 658 pages, so vast an area with all its dimensions, conflict and, most of all the variety and the depth of its impact on civilizations across the world? And yet, by this singular work Lapidus, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California at Berkeley, has, in a book more compact, placed himself in the recording of Islamic history on a pedestal equivalent to Gibbon’s for that of Rome.
In the spring and early summer of last year, British newspapers and television repeatedly covered the subject of the recruitment of mercenaries in the United Kingdom; but even if you were a regular reader or viewer, you could not always be certain of just what slant was being given to the subject.
This book contains a number of papers, mostly in the field of public finance, written by Professor Nanjundappa during the years 1961-1968. Except for two articles on ‘Wages, Prices and Employment’ and ‘Restrictive Trade Practices and Public Policy’, the articles included in the volume deal with questions in public economics ranging from incidence theory to problems of federal finance in India.
When one opens a volume like this with an impressive array of contributors, one does so with a certain expectation. But this volume disappoints totally. B.R. Nanda’s introductory article sets a tone for the rest of the book. It is an uninspired piece of writing and only summarizes what the other eleven articles have to say.
The stubborn facts of history and politics are often hidden from the public gaze. Jawaharlal Nehru lifted the curtain a little on this in one of his statements, ‘ … It is very well to talk about foreign policy. But you will appreciate that no person charged with a country’s foreign policy can really say very much about it.