Part of my summer reading was a short book by Abu Sayed and Priyajit Debsarkar on the 1971 concert for Banglagesh, one of a series of momentous events in the period which saw east Pakistan break away from West Pakistan, in a bloody conflict marked by outrageous crimes on the part of the Pakistani military and its supporters, to become the independent nation of Bangladesh.
"The concert for Bangladesh: United friends of Bangladesh" is a 112 page work which first appeared in Bangla last year, followed by an English translation in 2023. It is beautifully produced with a colour cover, and excellent quality black and white photographs throughout. This is history poorly known to British readers, and is all the more valuable for that. Some of the baddies however, are all too familiar - the Chinese government and Henry Kissinger for example, had few concerns about Pakistani atrocities, as they sought a balance of power in the region which weakened India.
This work will also be of interest to Beatles completists motivated to buy anything and everything with George Harrison (and indeed Ravi Shankar) on the front cover. As for the Madison Square garden concert, the concept of cultural diplomacy is now one that is very familiar - less so in 1971. As Sayed and Debsarkar record, by 1985 some $12 million had been raised for Bangladesh - the impact on later interventions, such as Live Aid and Ethiopia, is clear.
Gripes? The text needed a tighter spell and grammar check, and as yet, the book does not appear to be available on some of the main online book sales sites?