“Sam Giancana: The Rise and Fall of a Chicago Mobster” by Susan McNicoll

If the beginning of a book has to be good enough to grab your attention,  “Sam Giancana: The Rise and Fall of a Chicago Mobster” by Susan McNicoll has such a start. The six-year-old Sam is beaten periodically by his father, Antonio Giancana. He is tied to an oak tree in the backyard and whipped with a razor strap until he bled. McNicoll writes, ” the beatings at the oak tree were gruesomely regular, from then on but perversely, this abuse spawned in the boy a ferocious driving force. There was nothing he could not withstand, there was nothing he could not do. And the world paid heavily for the man that boy became.” Continue reading ““Sam Giancana: The Rise and Fall of a Chicago Mobster” by Susan McNicoll”

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“The Unexpected Son” by Shobhan Bantwal

This was the first book I read by Shobhan Bantwal and I must say that I enjoyed her , “The Unexpected Son.” The story begins when a letter written in the old fashioned way, by ordinary mail, is delivered to Vinita Patil who has made the United States her home for the past few decades. In these days of electronic mail, this in itself was an oddity since there weren’t too many people who would write to her like this from India. Her surprise turns rapidly to shock when she reads the letter addressed to her by name by an anonymous well-wisher. The letter, in brief, informs her that her son in India is suffering from leukaemia and is not expected to live much longer. He desperately needs a bone marrow transplant which just might save his life. Continue reading ““The Unexpected Son” by Shobhan Bantwal”

“She Walks, She Leads” by Gunjan Jain

She Walks, She Leads” is in my opinion a somewhat misleading title for Gunjan Jain’s outstanding book profiling 24 of India’s most famous ladies of recent times. If not for the by line, “Women Who Inspire India” one might wonder what the book was about going just by the title. I would have opted for, “Trailblazers: 24 Women Who Inspired India” or something to that effect.

Be that as it may, this 520 page book published recently by Penguin-Viking is a trailblazer of sorts. I can’t readily recall anyone having catalogued so succinctly but in such an interesting manner the lives of 24 women who achieved great success in contemporary India, almost always struggling against great odds. Without exception all of them have become household names in India, a country where there is a huge need for role models. This book provides an intimate glimpse of the lives of these women. Continue reading ““She Walks, She Leads” by Gunjan Jain”

“The Escape” by David Baldacci

I seldom read two books by the same author in quick succession. This time there has been an exception as after “The Hit” by David Baldacci, a couple of weeks later, I read his “The Escape.” This features the Military CID Investigator John Puller. I was coming across this character for the first time but I understand he has featured in two other books by Baldacci in the past. The book starts with a bang, as all thrillers should. In a first time ever event, a notorious captive escapes from the ultra high security United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth. The man who escaped did not merely vanish into thin air but left behind a body of someone whom nobody had seen before at that prison. What makes the plot more intriguing is that the escaped prisoner was a brilliant man, an expert in nuclear technology and cyber security who had been a Major in the United States Air Force until his conviction. He happens to be none other than John Puller’s elder brother, Robert. Continue reading ““The Escape” by David Baldacci”