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War at the Top of the World: The Clash for Mastery of Asia

james hörner

watching the news or keeping up on international politics can be an exercise in confusion, with most of us lacking a sufficient grasp of various global situations to really feel we can even begin to form an opinion about the issues. At worst, this book will succeed in raising your interest in international politics; at best, it will really shake up the way you think about South Asia and its role in the world.

War at the Top of the World book cover Margolis comes across as a bit of a danger loving, adrenaline junkie. At the same time, though, he writes with a sincerity and seriousness that conveys his concern for the lives clouded over by the constant threat of conflict. We can be thankful that Eric Margolis is such a chronic adventurer, brining us a unique perspective of volatile situations and amazing people.

Simply put, Margolis is an intelligent and charming narrator, weaving history, war, and personal anecdotes with ease. It is very clear where his sympathies lie, and that makes this a biased, but nonetheless fascinating and insightful, text. Also, this book isn't entirely serious, with splashes of well-placed humour about things such as the lack of springs in Land Cruisers.

It isn't until over halfway through that he discusses, more in-depth, the current social situations in India and Pakistan and the historical precedents to this. Instead, he spends most of the first half focussing on the perils of war and his own exploits. This is fine, though, as it really lets you get to know his personality, from which you understand what light to read his personal observations in. One of the things War at the Top of the World outlines, in detail, is the military scenario of India and Pakistan going to war - something he notes is a growing threat.

War at the Top of the World concludes with an examination of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, and possible futures for the region. This region may seem like a sporadic and unpredictable area, at least in terms of how India, Pakistan, and China are portrayed by the Western media. Margolis, through his extensive knowledge and analysis, outlines potential conflicts in such a way that is rational. The look at China is brief, but raises political questions that widen the popular perspective of a vastly populated and strategically capable giant.

The only thing that really upset me about this book was the distinct lack of photographs to accompany Margolis' vivid descriptions. Regardless, anyone who reads this book will walk away with a clearer picture of a much misunderstood, and media maligned, area of the world. you won't follow international news coverage the same way again.

Overall, War at the Top of the World covers a great deal of material, moving rapidly over, and at times oversimplifying, enormous amounts of history. What Margolis does present is clear, concise, and is an excellent primer. After reading this book you may not lose sleep for fear of nuclear attacks from India or China, but you will certainly gain an appreciation for the vast complexity of international politics.

published by key porter books
ISBN 1-55263-089-7


james hörner edits canadian content.

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