Bangladesh is the world's eighth most populous country. It has more inhabitants than either Russia or Japan, and its national language, Bengali, ranks sixth in the world in terms of native speakers. Founded in 1971, Bangladesh is a relatively young nation, but the Bengal Delta region has been a major part of international life for more than 2,000 years, whether as an important location for trade or through its influence on Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim life. Yet the country rarely figures in global affairs or media, except in stories about floods, poverty, or political turmoil. The Bangladesh Reader does what those portrayals do not: It illuminates the rich historical, cultural, and political permutations that have created contemporary Bangladesh, and it conveys a sense of the aspirations and daily lives of Bangladeshis.
Intended for travelers, students, and scholars, the Reader encompasses first-person accounts, short stories, historical documents, speeches, treaties, essays, poems, songs, photographs, cartoons, paintings, posters, advertisements, maps, and a recipe. Classic selections familiar to many Bangladeshis—and essential reading for those who want to know the country—are juxtaposed with less-known pieces. The selections are translated from a dozen languages; many have not been available in English until now. Featuring eighty-three images, including seventeen in color, The Bangladesh Reader is an unprecedented, comprehensive introduction to the South Asian country's turbulent past and dynamic present.