Age of Anger: A History of the Present
One of our most important public intellectuals reveals the hidden history of our current global crisis.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world--from American shooters and ISIS to Donald Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra answers our bewilderment by casting his gaze back to the eighteenth century before leading us to the present.
He shows that as the world became modern, those who were unable to enjoy its promises--of freedom, stability, and prosperity--were increasingly susceptible to demagogues. The many who came late to this new world--or were left, or pushed, behind--reacted in horrifyingly similar ways: with intense hatred of invented enemies, attempts to re-create an imaginary golden age, and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected that the militants of the nineteenth century arose--angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally.
Today, just as then, the wide embrace of mass politics and technology and the pursuit of wealth and individualism have cast many more billions adrift in a demoralized world, uprooted from tradition but still far from modernity--with the same terrible results.
Making startling connections and comparisons, Age of Anger is a book of immense urgency and profound argument. It is a history of our present predicament unlike any other.
Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely -- John Banville This is the most astonishing, convincing, and disturbing book I've read in years * Joe Sacco * Incisive and scary.. a wake-up call -- Nick Fraser * Guardian * Far from reassuring... his vision is unusually broad, accommodating and resistant to categorisation. It is the kind of vision the world needs right now...Pankaj Mishra shouldn't stop thinking. -- Christopher de Bellaigue * Financial Times * This is a framework that pushes aside conventional, familiar divisions of left and right to focus on the profound sense of dislocation and alienation that spawned (and still spawns) movements ranging from fascism to anarchism to nihilism...a short book into which a lot of intellectual history has been packed. -- Laura Miller * Slate * Stimulating... thought-provoking -- Richard Evans * Guardian * A valuable book. Mishra's ideas are bold and initially discomfiting - it's a challenge to look over the head of the latest terrorist and try to dispassionately trace his rage back to Voltaire - but it's undeniably good to stretch intellectual muscles and test your own prejudices. Mishra invites us to hear the ugly, muffled shouts beneath the "drumbeat" of Western civilisation. -- Julie McDowall * Sunday Herald * Mishra reads like a brilliant autodidact, putting to shame the many students who dutifully did the reading for their classes but missed the incandescent fire and penetrating insight in canonical texts... no one has discerned better than Mishra just how far we still are from the top. -- Samuel Moyn * New Republic * Around the world, both East and West, the insurrectionary fury of militants, zealots and populists has overturned the post-Cold-War global consensus. Where does their rage come from, and where will it end? One of the sharpest cultural critics and political analysts releases his landmark "history of the present -- Boyd Tonkin * Newsweek * An original attempt to explain today's paranoid hatreds...Iconoclastic...Mr. Mishra shocks on many levels. * Economist * Along with quotations from Voltaire, Rousseau, and other familiar figures of Western Civ, Age of Anger includes observations from Iranian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and other nations' scholars; their perspectives complement Mishra's deep understanding of global tensions....In probing for the wellspring of today's anger he hits on something real -- Peter Coy * Bloomberg Businessweek * Provocative...We'll need new philosophical frameworks to understand the phenomenon of political anger in a global perspective; what's fascinating about Mishra's novel reading is that it draws on familiar philosophical and literary touchstones while turning them on their head...A brilliant work -- Eric Banks * Bookforum * A disturbing but imperatively urgent analysis -- Bryce Christensen * Booklist * A probing, well-informed investigation of global unrest calling for 'truly transformative thinking' about humanity's future * Kirkus Reviews * Sensitive and illuminating....Makes a powerful case for the influence of a certain group of anti-rational and anti-commercial ideas which have influenced our world.,..Mishra's contribution is to show us how these ideas have become 'viral' and what that means for all of us. -- Jonathan Steinberg * The Spectator * Incisive...Age of Anger, which was completed after the Brexit vote but before Trump's victory, reminds us that the dialectical movement between these two poles - between a desire to be oneself and a desire to belong to something larger than oneself - has been a feature of Western political life since the Enlightenment -- Justin E.H. Smith * Harper's * Pankaj Mishra's Age of Anger...exemplifies his characteristic eloquence and erudition...Leaders who are struggling to process the present backlash against core aspects of globalization would do well to heed Mishra's plea to "remember the irreducible human being, her or his fears, desires, and resentments." -- Ali Wyne * The National Interest * An impressively probing and timely work...Highly engaging * Publishers Weekly * Scintillating...Age of Anger looks an awful lot like a masterwork. We're only a few weeks into 2017, but one of the books of the year is already here -- Christopher Bray * The Tablet *