Bangladesh, a Muslim majority nation with a population of some 154 million people, receives little notice in the West, other than when political upheaval or natural disasters bring it to our attention. In "Understanding Bangladesh", an account of the political and economic experiences of the Bangladeshi state and its people, S. Mahmud Ali seeks to redress that imbalance. His book identifies the key players among Bangladesh's tiny military, political and business elite, explores the attempts to establish their authority in a crowded field, and considers the relative merits of their attempts at nation-building. Ali concludes by outlining both the remarkable achievements recorded by this land of unusual narratives, and the elemental challenges its burgeoning populace faces in the years ahead, among which is a resurgent and highly politicized form of militant Islamism.
S. Mahmud Ali served in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi armies, was a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, and at King's College, University of London, and has spent over twenty years as a journalist at the BBC World Service in London. He is the author of several books on regional and global security issues.