In Spite of the Gods, reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Similarly, countries as vast and complex as India are reduced, by us, to a
handful of stock images: saffron-tinted ashrams, teeming call centers, nuclear
stare-downs, Bollywood. Edward Luce’s rich but compact book, "In Spite of the
Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India," thankfully seeks to add some more
frames to that picture.
The book opens with a familiar character. A Westerner – in this case, a
Frenchman named André – is so taken with Indian philosophy that he has
relocated to a small town in Southern India dedicated to Sri Aurobindo, one of
India’s most celebrated spiritual leaders. The community’s inhabitants believe
that India possesses a "moral and spiritual force" strong enough to help the
world transcend materialism. India, André tells the author, is "the key to the
survival of the human race."
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