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Paperback Pickings

Dissent in a dainty format

Idiot nation (Penguin, 70p) by Michael Moore is an entertaining and instructive attempt at fitting into a dainty format the enormously subversive irreverence of this multi-million selling author, award-winning film-maker, performer, activist and scourge of political hypocrites everywhere. These hilarious extracts ' a long and important section on student rights ' provide an excellent sampling of Moore's brand of dissent: 'It comes as no surprise to foreigners that Americans, who love to revel in their stupidity, would 'elect' a president who rarely reads anything ' including his own briefing papers ' and thinks Africa is a nation, not a continent. An idiot leader of an idiot nation. In our glorious land of plenty, less is always more when it comes to taxing any lobe of the brain with the intake of facts and numbers, critical thinking, or the comprehension of anything that isn't...well, sports.'

Remapping knowledge (Three Essays, Rs 400) edited by Jackie Assayag and V'ronique B'n' is subtitled 'The Making of South Asian Studies in India, Europe and America (19th-20th centuries)'. It seeks to document the constitution of bodies of knowledge on south Asia spanning the last two centuries. Three essayists from France and Britain explore the cognitive construction of south Asia in the American university system, and relations between national identities and traditions of research in Britain and the US. The last essay is a reflection on Subaltern Studies.

India's market society (Three Essays, Rs 250) by Barbara Harriss-White collects writings on political economy by this distinguished Oxford economist. Harriss-White's work breaks new ground in showing how non-market and non-state institutions (caste, religion) shape India's market society.

A long way from tibet (Tara, '8.95) by Carlo Buldrini is an interesting European account of the Tibetan community in exile, and takes an unromantic look at the long struggle of the Tibetan people for the freedom of their country. There are the mysteries of Tibetan medicine, an interview with the dalai lama, an interview with the sinister Dorje Shugden cult, the fight of the karmapa lama and the controversy of the alternative claimants to the title, and the two panchen lamas.

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