In this richly engaging history of globalization, Chanda depicts today's growing global interconnectedness as part of a larger drama that has unfolded over thousands of years, propelled by human impulses to explore, prosper, and dominate. The book's narrative revolves around the stories of individuals and groups on the move across continents and eras. Chanda posits that these agents of globalization-whether using camel caravans, sailing ships, or the Internet-have tended to come in four types: traders seeking profits, preachers seized by religious fervor, adventurers in search of knowledge or fortune, and war- riors bent on aggrandizing power and building empires.

In projecting globalizing processes backward into the distant past, the book shifts the historical center of gravity away from the familiar story of the rise and domination of the West. Asia and the Middle East are epicenters; the Silk Road was a superhighway of early globalization, and Islam and Buddhism were as mobile as Christianity. Chanda argues that the microchip is responsible for the recent acceleration in globalization. He does not offer a master argument about where globalization is going, but he never- the less makes clear that humans have a deeply rooted tendency toward societal interconnectedness.

—Foreign Affairs

more reviews

The back-slapping World Economic Forum in Davos has come and gone again, but this year the familiar whining on the sidelines about American empire, hegemonic bullying and faceless multinationals has been less piercing.

To be sure, it usually takes a WTO meeting to properly rile the worlds vociferous anti-American Left, but has anyone else noticed the relative quiet surrounding Davos this year? Is everyone just preoccupied with climate change, Iraq, and Iran's nuclear programme and the tragic loss of Anna Nicole Smith? Has the unipolar, Cold War world gone, to be replaced by a benevolent multipolarity? Could it be that "Globalisation" (or "Americanisation", as its critics so often denounce it), is losing its pejorative edge?

Nayan Chanda's Bound Together, to be published in May this year, is unabashedly pro-globalisation. It begins with the premise that globalisation is under constant attack from those who do not understand its origins, its intricacies and benefits. It is not the only book of its type - Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat and The Lexus and the Olive Tree attempt much the same, an exposition of the intertwined economic and technological forces at work today which make the world better, richer and easier to live in.

Both authors appear to accept the charge that globalisation makes the rich richer - and probably also the that it increases the wealth gap too - but their defence is that it makes the poor richer, which matters too.

What stands out in Bound Together is its astonishing historical reach - which provides the basis for Chandas examination of globalisation. He also offers contemporary anecdotes. The second chapter begins with his purchase of an iPod and his delight at tracking die gadget's 40-hour course from China across the Pacific to the US - a journey which took our ancestors thousands of years. Chapter 10 strays, however, into fawning over the conveniences of modern air travel. But observations about the miracles of modern consumer life do not make a book in this field stand out.

What does, though, is the drawing of parallels between progress millennia ago and corresponding developments now. A revolutionary camel saddle in the 6th Century BC meant a leap in human mobility (and trade) just as the fax machine in the 1960s changed modern commerce. In the 7th Century BC, Buddha urged his disciples to embark on a preaching mission; in the early twentieth century the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia heralded a spread of Wahhabism throughout the Islamic world in the coming decades. History, as anyone who reads it is constantly reminded, has fabulously long feelers.

More than anything, though, what makes Bound Together an enjoyable experience - despite its considerable length and a tendency to slip into historical prolixity - is its provision of maps illustrating the movement of products'and peoples over time (and an excellent appendix chronology, divided into the four categories in the books strapline). More maps would break the book up better - and this being an advance proof, perhaps they will yet be included.

The final two chapters are distinct from the rest-replacing a tour d'horizon of human progress with an impassioned defence of globalisation in its modern, WTO, Davos incarnation.

Chanda's book would benefit from a little less techno-sycophancy and defensiveness and a little more structure. But his point is well made: globalisation has always stemmed from a basic human urge to seek a better and more fulfilling life, and has always been driven by history's traders, preachers, warriors and adventurers.

—Sam Mendehon of Financial World

more reviews

<< Back