As the blurb on the book cover has it, “Operation Mincemeat” by Ben Macintyre is ” the true spy story that changed the course of World War II .” I am not quite sure whether it did that. However, it cannot be denied that this amazing true story details how the Germans were deceived into believing that the Allies would attack Greece, when they actually stormed Sicily in July 1943. This was immensely significant at that time as it was the first assault by Allied troops on what was known as Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Continue reading ““Operation Mincemeat” by Ben Macintyre”
Firstly, let me make a confession. I really didn’t know as much about Swantraveer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, 1883-1966) as I ought to. Having lived in Mumbai briefly, I knew of course that the old Cadell Road in Mumbai had been re-named Veer Savarkar Marg. I had no idea he had died just a few years before my time there.
I had heard of course about his long years of imprisonment by the British in the notorious Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, there was much about his life and career that I did not know. Continue reading ““Savarkar And His Times” by Dhananjay Keer”
“Strangers” is the first book I read by Ms C L Taylor and I must say that I look forward to reading more from her. I understand she has written many books. Like her books, she has made a mystery of her name too, it would appear. In the realm of romantic comedy, she is well-known as Cally Taylor, becoming C L Taylor when she writes psychological thrillers! Continue reading ““Strangers” by C L Taylor”
Very few are as admired in India as our late Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ( 1889-1964). As a school boy, I remember how thrilled we were when he visited our school in 1959, complete with that rose adorning his jacket. It was in 1962 however when his image took a beating in public for the first time. This followed the disastrous India-China War which saw our Army grossly humiliated. It was the same Army which as the British Indian Army had gained tremendous respect during World War II across different battle theaters, not to mention the sacrifices made in World War I as well. The blame for the 1962 blunders rest squarely with Nehru. Continue reading ““Nehru’s 97 Major Blunders” by Rajnikant Puranik”
If, like me, you are fond of dogs, this book, first published in 1961, will definitely appeal to you. “The Dog Who Came To Stay: A Memoir” by Hal Borland is the story of how a stray black and white foxhound whom they called Pat and a black pup of perhaps setter blood whom they called Mike entered the lives of the author and his wife Barbara. They first appeared on a cold and snowy Christmas night sometime during the 1950s when they lived in a secluded 100 acre farm in the wilder areas of North West Connecticut.
Being dog lovers, Borland and his wife took in Pat and Mike without any hesitation. They after all led a rather lonely life in the isolated farm enjoying the rugged landscape and being close to nature in the Housatonic Valley. They did make efforts to find out if anyone had reported these dogs as being missing. However, no one responded to their advertisements in the local newspapers and other attempts to find their owners. Gradually, as the dogs settled into a routine they became part of the Borland family.
Pat seemed to be well trained and in their estimate was a young adult of around four years. Mike was perhaps a year old, less groomed and therefore more boisterous and less well behaved. Soon Mike led Pat into a fight with a bobcat and ran away leaving Pat to scrap it out on his own. The battle resulted in Pat getting severely injured and he was nursed back to good health over the next two weeks by the author and his wife. After a year or so, Mike was becoming too much to handle so he was given away to a neighbor who wanted a pet for his little boy.
This left Pat alone with the Borlands and the book has many delightful anecdotes of Pat and his life with them over the next eight years. Borland writes beautifully of life in the wilds, of the rabbit hunts, the stray bears, and nature in its different forms across the seasons. And of course about Pat! The relationship between a man and his dog is a special one, which only dog lovers will truly understand. Never could the author and Barbara hope to see a more affectionate , loyal and steadfast friend than Pat. We discover that dogs, like human beings, have distinct personalities of their own. They too have their likings, and their preferences, be it for food or a place to sleep and call their own.
All in all, this was a most enjoyable book. I would heartily recommend it to every dog lover even if they don’t own dogs of their own.
For thousands of cricket fans in India, V V S Laxman has to be one of the classiest batsmen to have donned the India colours. His batting was characterized by grace, elegance, and a certain style which most cannot emulate. He was a worthy successor to other elegant Hyderabadi batsmen before him, like M L Jaisimha and Mohammad Azharuddin.
In his recent book, “281 And Beyond” , we get to know Laxman the person more than just Laxman the stylish batsman. Written in collaboration with R Kaushik, the Hyderabad -based cricket writer, this book gives the reader insight into Laxman’s travails and triumphs playing cricket for India at the highest level.
There were many triumphs, to be sure. On top of the list has to be his 281 in the Kolkatta test of 2001 against the Australians. How he and Rahul Dravid put together a 376 run partnership versus the mighty Australians is a legend in modern day cricket. India won the match despite having followed on! Laxman’s 281 was, at that time, the highest ever individual score by an Indian Test batsman.
This apart, there have many more occasions when Laxman has saved the day for India. After all in a career over 15 years, he scored over 8500 runs in 134 Tests with 17 centuries and an average of 45.97
Laxman’s travails came from his not being a sure shot member of the playing XI of the Indian cricket team of his time, unlike say a Tendulkar, a Dravid, a Sehwag , or a Ganguly. He was shuffled in the batting order many times, and was pushed into opening the batting which was not something he particularly enjoyed.
As Laxman’s career developed, another phenomenon came up which made his place in the Indian cricket team more insecure. This was the advent of 50 over cricket and later T20 cricket via the Indian Premier League (IPL). In both cases, Laxman had the disadvantage of being branded a “Test batsman. ” In addition, not being electric in the field, he lost out to others who were considered more adept in these newer and far more popular versions of the game.
In my view, what shines all through the book is Laxman’s description of his upbringing, values and work ethic which is so typical of the hard working middle class/professional stock he came from. He describes in detail how he had to make an important decision: whether to pursue his studies in medicine ( both his parents being doctors) or to be a professional cricketer.
Laxman’s career statistics are far more impressive than many would imagine. A short summary of his career figures in the book even as a end-of-the-book book summary, would, I believe, have publicized his cricketing achievements and enhanced the value of his accomplishments.
Highly recommended for all cricket lovers as Laxman was one of the finest players of his generation.
They say that often the book cover makes a big difference in influencing a reader to buy a book. I loved the cover of, “Ambling Indian Diaries: Journey India” by Aina Rao. It showed you at a glance what the book could be about. The colors, the contrasts and the chaos that characterize life in our country, irrespective of who you are and where you live. Continue reading ““Ambling Indian Diaries: Journey India” by Aina Rao”
As a kid, growing up in the 60’s I had heard the popular song of the day, ” Sink The Bismarck” by Johnny Horton. That old song rang in my ears as I recently read a comprehensive book about the last battle of the famous German battleship of the Second World War, the “Bismarck”, the pride of the German Kriegsmarine.
The book I speak of is , “Hunt The Bismarck” (2019) by the noted naval historian, Angus Konstam, who has authored many books about the Second World War. This book has been published by Osprey Publishing. Continue reading ““Hunt The Bismarck” by Angus Konstam”
James Buddy Day the author of ” Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson” has earned a reputation for being a “true crime documentarian”. His book is one more in the list of many books written about Charles Manson (1934-2017), variously described as a musician, poet, cult leader, drug dealer, pimp, and mass murderer. As a teenager in 1969, I remember how shocked we were to read about the gruesome murders of the beautiful film actress Sharon Tate and others, in “Life” and “Time”, the popular magazines of those days. Continue reading ““Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson” by James Buddy Day”
I know of Ms. Raksha Bharadia from the days when she edited titles for the “Chicken Soup For The Indian Soul” series of books. They were interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed reading her latest book, published by Rupa recently called, “Chaos In Romance, Sexuality and Fidelity”. Continue reading ““Chaos In Romance, Sexuality and Fidelity”: Raksha Bharadia”