(Hail, comrade, and all that)

The New York Times gives Husband of a Fanatic two thumbs-up and a faint caveat:
“At its best, [Amitava] Kumar’s reportage has the immediacy and respectful attention to detail of a well-turned Granta essay (it is no surprise to see Ian Jack, Granta’s editor, cited in the acknowledgments). Picking his way through lives distorted or destroyed by hatred, Kumar alleviates his own — and the reader’s — gloom by drawing attention to the fanatics’ mordant eccentricities. In the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where Hindu nationalist cadres called kar-sevaks destroyed the Babri mosque in 1992, Kumar discovers that children now learn math by answering questions like, ”If it takes four kar-sevaks to demolish one mosque, how many does it take to demolish 20?” He is dismayed that the nationalists have succeeded in making millions of Hindus feel embattled in a country where they form an overwhelming majority. But he is painfully aware that he himself is the anachronism, one of a dwindling band clinging to the secular ideals of India’s first prime minister, Jawarharlal Nehru.”

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