[Comrades at Odds: The United States & India, 1947-1964]

Article excerpt

ASIA

Reviews by Steven Lee, University of British Columbia

Andrew Rotter

Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2000, xxix, 337 pp, US$55.00 cloth (ISBN 0-8014-3449-1), US$19.95 paper (ISBN 0-8014-8460-x)

Andrew Rotter, professor of history at Colgate University, has written an original and thoughtful book on United States-Indian relations during the cold war. Drawing on recent trends in the field of cultural history, Rotter re-evaluates American-South Asian relations from the perspective of the two countries' political cultures and argues that symbols, images, myths, and representations of the other have an important bearing on the conduct of diplomacy. To grasp the dynamics of policy formulation, 'we must understand how Americans and Indians perceive[d] themselves and others' (p xxiii).

In chapters dealing with such topics as strategy, economics, gender, race, religion, and class, we learn about American stereotypes of South Asians and Asian Indian perceptions of Americans. Although American officials like Philip Jessup and John Kenneth Galbraith stereotyped Indians as lazy, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru tended to think of Americans as greedy, materialistic, and politically immature. As Rotter points out, some Americans viewed Indians as lazy, but South Asians - unlike Americans and other Westerners - tended not to ascribe material value to the concept of time. …