March 2, 2003
OFF THE SHELF
Biography that makes you admire Churchill
all over again
V. N. Datta
doubt whether there are even a few takers of Winston Churchill in
India. He is generally regarded in the country as a bitter foe of
Indian nationalism. In the early 1930s he had tried to block every
move towards Dominion status for India. He castigated Mahatma Gandhi
"posing as a fakir striding half naked . . . to parley on equal
terms with the representative of the King Emperor".
Recipe for endless war
War Without End:
The Rise of Islamist Terrorism & Global Response
by Dilip Hiro. Routledge, London, 2002. Pages xxxiv + 513. Rs 495.
Washington pitching in for an "inevitable" war against
Iraq, reports of UN inspection teams and Saddam Hussein’s repeated
claims that he does not have any weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
regardless, the international scene inspires little hope, even less
confidence. Adding to the grim scenario is Ariel Sharon’s bouncing
back to power in Israel and Tony Blair—President Bush’s knight
in shining armour—trying bravely to paper over the cracks in the
European community over war and peace.
Does non-violence really work?
by Nayantara Saghal. Harper Collins, India. Pages 369. Rs 395.
Sahgal is never shrill, even when she handles issues like struggle
and violence. She is always restrained, yet she deals with huge
problems that beset a nation and their effects on the individuals
who inhabit the nation and even those who are not directly involved
and are living thousands of miles away. And all this is done with
the self-composure and élan that is to be expected from a writer of
her background and achievement.
Tasting the forbidden fruit
Balzac and the
Little Chinese Seamstress
by Dai Sijie. Translated from the French by Ina Rilke. Vintage
Books, UK. Pages 172. £ 3.95.
heavyweights figure prominently in this novel, one of them being the
legendary novelist mentioned in the title. The other is Chairman Mao’s
brainchild, bearing a name long enough to rival the Great Wall of
China — the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Now what has a
19th century French writer got to do with a 20th century Chinese
for wannabe parents
Smart Start for
by Penny Warner. Indus Publishing Co., N. Delhi. Pages: 175. Rs 150.
SO you are planning to
have a baby, but do you know how to take care of one? Since nuclear
families have become the norm and grannies are not around to give
advice, one obviously feels the need for expert guidance. This book
is one such source. Warner, a child-development expert, says that
during its first year the child grows the fastest making
extraordinary gains in all the areas, viz., physical, cognitive and
for writers of verse
IT is heartening to learn
that a number of senior poets in English who hold the potential to
sell well are backing a new publishing venture from Cochin, Yeti
Books. Many like Dom Moraes, C. P. Surendran and Keki Daruwalla, not
in sheer disgust alone I presume, have withdrawn manuscripts of
their new collections from established mainstream publishers like
Penguin and Rupa. Surendran’s Canaries on the
Moon has already appeared under the Yeti imprint.
A ‘popular’ view of history
Review of History
and the Present
edited by Partha Chatterjee and Anjan Ghosh. Permanent Black, New
Delhi. Pages 273. Rs 575.
the collapse of the elite nationalist historiography, subaltern
historiography, with its promise of representing people as active
players of history, received maximum attention. From being passive
receivers or consumers of history, people are suddenly recognised as
frontline participants of history. The juggernaut of subaltern with
its accent on caste, gender, race, ethnicity, etc. rolls on as an
answer to the over-arching nationalist histories.
day that no one will ever forget
Black Friday: The True Story of
the Bombay Bomb Blasts
by S. Hussain Zaidi. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 288. Rs. 325.
is the best armour, but the worst cloak. This work of non-fiction by S.
Hussain Zaidi reflects his dedication to detail and his passion for
accuracy. His aim through this work is to reveal the role of the
conspirators who played havoc with the lives of the citizens of Mumbai
on March 12, 1993, when a series of bomb blasts shook the city.
Signs & signatures
The fear of death that runs through life
Darshan Singh Maini
idea of death or cease is almost born with a child from its
nativity. The first cry is also the last cry — a journey through
life’s perils and challenges amidst moments of felicity and
celebration. The fear of death, therefore, is at once constitutive
and phenomenological. The very nature of his existence posits
extinction, for that’s the eternal design, the eternal
destination. Almost all theologies are built around this inescapable