Published in the year 1974, Nationalism in Asia and Africa is a valuable contribution to the field of Middle Eastern Studies.
An unusual group of 23 writings, mostly pre-World War II, by nationalists mostly unfamiliar to American readers. The editor thumbnails them in his febrile, quirky, eruditely digressive and very long introduction. In some cases, however - Koraes the nineteenth-century Greek nationalist, Gandhi, the Taipings - key figures get much more than a thumbnail. Kedourie argues with close if erratic reasoning against prevalent conceptions of Third World nationalism (as a reaction to economic imperialism, development needs, or alien rule), preferring a combination germ theory and frustrated-elite explanation. Islamic and Black African documents illuminate his point that nationalism co-opts religion. The "search for a past" to amplify and justify nationalist sentiments is displayed by Indian and Turkish writers, as well as Blyden's 1871 demonstration of the fabulous accomplishments of ancient Negroes. Violence emerges as a third theme in, e.g., the memoir of Chanekar, an Indian assassin, and a lengthy Fanon extract. Other African selections include a remarkable description of rites and oaths by a Mau Mau leader and a manifesto of Nkrumah's student society. Nationalism in power is represented by an excerpt from a 1930's Japanese manual for teachers. Apart from Fanon and Blyden, the only "standards" are Sun Yat-Sen and Garvey, plus three Bolshevik position papers which somewhat compensate for Kedourie's scanty treatment of the opposition between anti-capitalists nationalism and class-struggle socialism. It's an odd book, not "comprehensive" in any sense, but potentially worthwhile for industrious students of history and ideology. (Kirkus Reviews)