Prem Rao

Stories from a Story Teller

“God Is A Gamer” by Ravi Subramanian

I recall the excitement with which I read Ravi Subramanian’s debut novel, “If God Was A Banker.” It won for him the Golden Quill Readers’ Choice Award in 2008 and we knew a promising writer had made his mark in India. After that he has written several books, largely centered around an environment he knows best, multinational banking with all its diverse facets. He is, after all, a graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and worked in big name global banks for two decades or more.

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The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl

“The Newsmakers” is a fast paced read by Lis Wiehl, and Sebastian Stuart, published by Thomas Nelson. The story opens with a Staten Island ferry crashing into the crowds in New York in a horrific accident. This is witnessed by chance by television reporter Erica Sparks, who has recently joined GNN, Global News Networks, a  media business conglomerate. She has come up the hard way from a rough childhood in a poor family in rural Maine.  The beautiful Ms. Sparks worked her way through Yale and is as talented as she is ambitious.  Read more…

“JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA & The Sino-Indian War” by Bruce Riedel

Historians, writers and the American people, at large, have given more attention to the Bay of Pigs incident and the Cuban crisis during John F. Kennedy’s presidency than the happenings in  South East Asia, especially the Sino-Indian War of 1962. This was only to be expected as the Cuban crisis saw the two global super powers, the United States and the then USSR virtually on the brink of a nuclear war. However, as Bruce Riedel writes in his book, events in far away South Asia nearly dragged the US into another conflict, this time between the two most populous countries in the World, China and India. Riedel has therefore very aptly named his book, ” JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA  & The Sino-Indian War.” This will soon be published by the Brookings Institution Press.

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“Franklin D. Roosevelt: Road To The New Deal” by Roger Daniels

Since President John F. Kennedy was closer to my times it was natural that I read many books about him. He was, for many of us, a childhood hero and I still remember November 22, 1963 and the newspapers headlines that day. However, for many of a previous generation, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first and only President of the United States to hold office for an unprecedented four terms, from 1933 till he passed away in 1945, was the ultimate Democrat leader. I had of course heard about FDR especially his term of office during the Second World War, but not knowing too much about his early days, it was with considerable interest that I read, ” Franklin D. Roosevelt: Road To The New Deal” by Roger Daniels, Charles Phelps Taft Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, published by the University of Illinois Press. Read more…

“Stalk” by Louis Charbonneau

I hadn’t read any books by Louis Charbonneau before this and I must confess I enjoyed reading, “Stalk.”  The story line was rather predictable and the good guys had to win at the end but I liked his writing style and the fast pace he maintained all through the book.

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“Where The Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea, 1941-44” by Robert Forczyk

Robert Forczyk has written extensively on the Second World War, especially about the battles between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  “Where The Iron Crosses Grow” which I completed some time ago but could not review earlier due to my ill-health is a detailed account of the battles for the Crimea spread over the period 1941 to 1944. I find that Dr. Forczyk has a Ph.D in International Relations and National Security from the University of Maryland and this brings to bear a meticulous mind in researching and presenting material in his book.

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“The Reaper” by Nicholas Irving with Gary Brozek

As an avid fan of military history, I have read books about the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, but here comes a first, for me at any rate, a book about the more contemporary war being waged by United States troops against the Taliban in Afghanistan.  “The Reaper” (published by St. Martin’s Press) is the story told in the first person of Special Operations Direct Action Sniper, Nicholas Irving, who landed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan with the Third Ranger Battalion in 2009.

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“US Marine Corps Fighter Squadrons of World War II” by Barrett Tillman

Nearly 200 illustrations of squadron logos and of fighter planes embellish Tillman’s book on the famous fighter squadrons of the United States Marine Corps during the Second World War. Most of their fighting was against the Japanese in the Pacific. The Pacific War, it is said, was the largest naval conflict in history. Names like Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima have passed into history as have the Battles for Midway, the Coral Sea and Guam.  Likewise, some of the US Marine Corps fighter pilots have become legends: Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Lt Col Harold “Indian Joe” Bauer,  Capt Joseph J. Foss, Major John L. Smith, and Capt Marion E. Carl, but to name a few.

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On My Reading List

I am one of those voracious readers who not only reads all the time but reads several books at a time. I enjoy the variety in dipping into one book which may be quite different from the other. Here are the books that I am currently reading :- Read more…

Approaches To A Group Writing Project

All my writing so far has been on an individual basis. I framed a plot, wrote a story, and contributed to the editing and publishing of the book that emerged. I also contributed a short story to a publishing house which produced an anthology of short stories from some thirty different authors, like me. The task of the editor here was merely to liaise with the authors and make sure they sent in their stories within a defined time frame and with a certain quality. The challenge I now speak of is totally different. I am at the start of a book project which involves writing the history of an institution. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience. Read more…

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