Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War

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Columbia University Press, Feb 20, 2011 - History - 288 pages
The 1971 conflict mired Pakistan in a bitter civil war and brutal stuggle both within its own country and against neighboring India. Backed by the Soviet Union and the United States, the 1971 war was fought over territories of East Pakistan, which then seceded to become Bangladesh. Through a detailed investigation of representative events on the ground, this remarkably human history contextualizes the war while vividly theorizing on the nature of the conflict itself.

As with most wars, the narrative of 1971 has largely been written by the victors. All other actors have been imprisoned within partisan mythologies. This book sets out to rectify this bias, reconstructing events though extensive interviews conducted in Bangladesh and Pakistan over four years. It features published and unpublished recollections, sampling from official documents, tapes, photographs, video documentaries, and reports issued by the foreign media. Many interviewees speak about their experiences for the first time, introducing new strands into an otherwise poorly represented history. Their "contesting" memories diverge from dominant narratives in crucial ways, ultimately showing how the war's reverberations continue to play out within the region.

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What I loved most about the book was that it challenges the perception that Pakistan was responsible the mass killing of 3 million people.I have searched long and hard for those figures but the Bengali Embassy has always turned me down every time I've pushed for the truth.In the end,West Pakistan did what any country would do if it feared the partition of its country especially by the hands of it rival. 

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One of the best books on the history of Bangladesh. The creation of Bangladesh is no doubt painful and I admire Ms. Bose for writing this balanced narrative for the history.

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About the author (2011)

Sarmila Bose is senior research fellow in the politics of South Asia at the University of Oxford. She earned her degrees at Bryn Mawr College and Harvard University and combined her academic and media work while serving as a political journalist in India.

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