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Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb

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In this revised edition of the highly praised Engaging India, Strobe Talbott updates his bestselling diplomatic account of America's parallel negotiations with India and Pakistan over nuclear proliferation in the late 1990s. The update looks at recent nuclear dealings between India and the United States, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2005 visit to Americ In this revised edition of the highly praised Engaging India, Strobe Talbott updates his bestselling diplomatic account of America's parallel negotiations with India and Pakistan over nuclear proliferation in the late 1990s. The update looks at recent nuclear dealings between India and the United States, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2005 visit to America. Under the highly controversial agreement that emerged, the United States would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and conventional weapons systems. In exchange, India would place its civilian nuclear program under international monitoring and continue the ban on nuclear testing. Praise for the hardback edition "A fascinating study of how diplomatic dialogue can slowly broaden to include subtle considerations of the domestic politics and foreign policies of both countries involved." Foreign Affairs "An important addition to the literature of modern diplomatic history."—Choice "Detailed and revealing... an honest behind-the-scenes look at how countries make and defend policies.... A must-read for any student of diplomacy."—Outlook (India) "A rapidly engrossing work and a welcome addition to modern world history shelves."—Reviewer's Bookwatch "A highly engaging book; lucid, informative and at times, amusing."—International Affairs


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In this revised edition of the highly praised Engaging India, Strobe Talbott updates his bestselling diplomatic account of America's parallel negotiations with India and Pakistan over nuclear proliferation in the late 1990s. The update looks at recent nuclear dealings between India and the United States, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2005 visit to Americ In this revised edition of the highly praised Engaging India, Strobe Talbott updates his bestselling diplomatic account of America's parallel negotiations with India and Pakistan over nuclear proliferation in the late 1990s. The update looks at recent nuclear dealings between India and the United States, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2005 visit to America. Under the highly controversial agreement that emerged, the United States would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and conventional weapons systems. In exchange, India would place its civilian nuclear program under international monitoring and continue the ban on nuclear testing. Praise for the hardback edition "A fascinating study of how diplomatic dialogue can slowly broaden to include subtle considerations of the domestic politics and foreign policies of both countries involved." Foreign Affairs "An important addition to the literature of modern diplomatic history."—Choice "Detailed and revealing... an honest behind-the-scenes look at how countries make and defend policies.... A must-read for any student of diplomacy."—Outlook (India) "A rapidly engrossing work and a welcome addition to modern world history shelves."—Reviewer's Bookwatch "A highly engaging book; lucid, informative and at times, amusing."—International Affairs

30 review for Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb

  1. 5 out of 5

    Neeraj Bali

    A fascinating book on Indo-US parleys over non-proliferation that rivals thrillers in tautness and pace. Very reassuring to learn the sharp focus of Indian effort on its national interest.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ravi Shankar

    Essential reading on the origins of the modern chapter of Indo-US relations and its architects.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mannar Karyampudi

    As a 10-14 year old, I vividly remember reading major world events concerning India, like it going nuclear, getting sanctioned, Kargil war, Parliament attacks etc. This book helped me understand what went behind the scenes between India & US at a diplomatic level as those national headlines flashed. An excellent recount of what it took for India and US to go from mutually suspicious to a state of undeclared natural allies. A good primer on the foundational work done between 98 and 2006 by diplom As a 10-14 year old, I vividly remember reading major world events concerning India, like it going nuclear, getting sanctioned, Kargil war, Parliament attacks etc. This book helped me understand what went behind the scenes between India & US at a diplomatic level as those national headlines flashed. An excellent recount of what it took for India and US to go from mutually suspicious to a state of undeclared natural allies. A good primer on the foundational work done between 98 and 2006 by diplomats of US & India. Contrary to my expectations, I expected the book to cover what transpired between India and US, during 9/11. The subject was touched, but doesn’t address to my curiosity at any level.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Haluk Cavusoglu

    A fascinating piece regarding complex political negotiations and diplomacy. I was intrigued how changes of leadership in a country affects the ongoing dialogue between diplomats and negotiators. I read this book to have an understanding of complex inter-state diplomatic negotiation dynamics and to learn a bit about India's democracy scene. India is a very strong country that will affect the global scene in the next 10-20 years while the conflict between China and U.S.A. is approaching. Let's hop A fascinating piece regarding complex political negotiations and diplomacy. I was intrigued how changes of leadership in a country affects the ongoing dialogue between diplomats and negotiators. I read this book to have an understanding of complex inter-state diplomatic negotiation dynamics and to learn a bit about India's democracy scene. India is a very strong country that will affect the global scene in the next 10-20 years while the conflict between China and U.S.A. is approaching. Let's hope India will not strongly choose a side but opt to have a balanced policy towards China, USA and Russia. This will be better for the world peace.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jitendra Singh

    This is one of the beautiful classics I would say. This gives you detailed version from American perspective. It basically dwells more about how India and US did fine tune diplomatic relationship. Some of the chapters are really thrilling especially when Bill Clinton was furious with Nawaz Sharif. A must for everyone who loves to read political affairs.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sagar Kale

    Very well written, extremely informative and interesting. The chapter dealing with the kargil war is the USP of this book. Giving 4 stars instead of 5 only because I found it difficult to read more than 50-100 pages of the book at once. Due to the intensity and detailed nature of the book, a reader may need to take several breaks while reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Siddhartha

    A real diplomatic walk through that takes you the backstage of some real action pieces.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Neeraj Patralekh

    A great way to know about diplomatic relations of India, US, and Pakistan.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Kwok

    A really enjoyable book that provides a great brief history on the rivalry between India and Pakistan. I appreciated the perspective that Mr. Talbott provided in sharing the mindset of the Indian government as well as the mindset of the Pakistani government as both raced to secure nuclear weapons. An often overlooked achievement of the Clinton administration was President Clinton's deftness in defusing an explosive situation when India detonated a nuclear weapon and the world was holding onto it A really enjoyable book that provides a great brief history on the rivalry between India and Pakistan. I appreciated the perspective that Mr. Talbott provided in sharing the mindset of the Indian government as well as the mindset of the Pakistani government as both raced to secure nuclear weapons. An often overlooked achievement of the Clinton administration was President Clinton's deftness in defusing an explosive situation when India detonated a nuclear weapon and the world was holding onto its breath for Pakistan's reaction.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amaruvi Devanathan

    Books written by retired US officials about foreign policy usually center around the self-righteousness of the US and how they had, in times of great need, saved the other countries from the brink of extinction. For a change this book is one with a difference. Written by Strobe Talbott, one of the respected US foreign office officials, it talks about the tumultuous times of 1998 to 2005 when the Indian subcontinent was the main focus of the world. 1998 was when India, under Atal Behari Vajpayee, Books written by retired US officials about foreign policy usually center around the self-righteousness of the US and how they had, in times of great need, saved the other countries from the brink of extinction. For a change this book is one with a difference. Written by Strobe Talbott, one of the respected US foreign office officials, it talks about the tumultuous times of 1998 to 2005 when the Indian subcontinent was the main focus of the world. 1998 was when India, under Atal Behari Vajpayee, tested a nuclear weapon hoodwinking the mighty US spy network. The book talks about the happenings from then on and how he liaised with the then foreign minister of India Jaswant Singh to try and get India to sign the CTBT and NPT and failed in that effort. In a period of two and a half years, he met with Jaswant Singh for over fourteen times in different places of the world to get India to sign the wholly discriminatory treaties that would have severely handicapped India from developing into a nuclear power. The geo-politics surrounding the nuclear situation and its aftermath, the way Jaswant Singh proved to be a an extremely hard nut to track and made sure that India’s interests are safeguarded when it came to such partial treaties , how India under Vajpayee withstood the international pressure and made the US agree to every thing that India wanted wihout giving in to any of the US’s demands are all explained by the former US official in great detail. We get to know how until then the US was treating India and Pakistan on a hyphenated equation and was seeing India from a Pakistan perspective and was trying to dole out concessions or the promise of concessions and was wanting India to do the bidding of the US and how the then BJP government tilted the scales and make the US enter into meaningful dialogue with India. Until then it had always been a monologue situation and by the BJP government’s nuclear diplomacy the US was made to consider India as a dialogue partner. All these and more are explained in vivid detail by Strobe Talbott who was until May 1998 the Russian expert in Clinton’s State Department. The authenticity of Talbott is striking. He describes in great detail the very conversations that took place between himself and Jaswant Singh. From these it is a pleasure to understand the great person that Jaswant Singh was in terms of safeguarding India’s interests. This hard stand and never compromising attitude of the Vajpayee government ultimately resulted in the US administration under George Bush agreeing to have the Indo US Nuclear Deal without India signing the CTBT and the NPT. Talbott sums up his impression on Jaswant thus :” He achieved more of his objectives than I”. And in the end he says thus: “Jaswant put his country’s interests before his”. What more vindication of Jaswant and the Vaipayee government than this compliment from the super power’s own representative ! An essential read for someone who needs to understand the US turn around in its relations with India. http://amaruvi.wordpress.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    Akshay

    Talbott was along with Jaswant Singh one of the architects of bringing the real foundation to India-US foreign relationship. Their efforts to understand the south asian dynamics of regional balance along with pragmatic approach to mutual relationship brought real depth to generally frosty interaction between US-India. The book gives riveting insight into international diplomacy, India's going nuclear and the interplay of great game between isolation and total engagement. Although as with quite a Talbott was along with Jaswant Singh one of the architects of bringing the real foundation to India-US foreign relationship. Their efforts to understand the south asian dynamics of regional balance along with pragmatic approach to mutual relationship brought real depth to generally frosty interaction between US-India. The book gives riveting insight into international diplomacy, India's going nuclear and the interplay of great game between isolation and total engagement. Although as with quite a bit of American writing the perspective of being world savior hovers in between but this is a great read to understand how foreign policy is conducted and how as much as everything else its also a game of management, threats, give n take and human psychology. An account of our times when the country went into one of most important peaceful transition in politics, foreign affairs and way the country was carried along by political leadership.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aashish C

    This was a brisk read, both due to the nature of content included as well as Talbott's lucid writing style. Although, the book doesn't cover the denouement of America's courtship of India (I.e. The nuclear deal of 2005), the book does a good job of laying the pieces down for one to gauge how the relationship nurtured over time. I especially liked the author's personal anecdotes with Jaswant Singh, a public figure I admire a lot, as well as learning facets of India's diplomatic troupe. This was a brisk read, both due to the nature of content included as well as Talbott's lucid writing style. Although, the book doesn't cover the denouement of America's courtship of India (I.e. The nuclear deal of 2005), the book does a good job of laying the pieces down for one to gauge how the relationship nurtured over time. I especially liked the author's personal anecdotes with Jaswant Singh, a public figure I admire a lot, as well as learning facets of India's diplomatic troupe.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Venkata Mategunta

    Wonderful and detailed behind the looks at the diplomatic conversations that shaped India-US relations from 1996-2004. The most fascinating part was the tense moments when India and Pakistan were on the brink of a thermonuclear war and Bill Clinton came to the rescue. Also, Strobe Talbott throws light on the statesmanship of towering personalities like Vajpayee and Jaswant Singh.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    A still relevant history of India becoming nuclear, how the Clinton administration handled it. History has led to it also being a good look at the BJP's previous time in government. Dry, but probably unavoidably so. A still relevant history of India becoming nuclear, how the Clinton administration handled it. History has led to it also being a good look at the BJP's previous time in government. Dry, but probably unavoidably so.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vamsi Kiran

    One of the best books to know how diplomacy works. Especially, if we need to know about India's nuclear phases, the way Indian Diplomats worked with US diplomats ..Its truly engaging ..Its like a story but real events. Hatsoff to Strobe Talbott One of the best books to know how diplomacy works. Especially, if we need to know about India's nuclear phases, the way Indian Diplomats worked with US diplomats ..Its truly engaging ..Its like a story but real events. Hatsoff to Strobe Talbott

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hans Hoffmann

    For those who remember when India and Pakistan detinated a nuclear bomb in the late 90's - this is a good account of the behind the scenes negotiations that took place betweeen the US and India For those who remember when India and Pakistan detinated a nuclear bomb in the late 90's - this is a good account of the behind the scenes negotiations that took place betweeen the US and India

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ayushman

    I imagine this book is very popular in Pyongyang as the Kim regime seeks to secure its own India-style nuclear relationship with the US.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ankur

    Lucidly written. This book gives a great insight into international diplomacy in general, and between India and the US in particular.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sri Mummadi

  20. 4 out of 5

    Walter

  21. 4 out of 5

    Arsalan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pramod

  23. 5 out of 5

    Palak Mathur

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brij Shah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jinu

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gunjan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeyakumar M

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rahool Joshi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nilesh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cathleen

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