The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, March 2, 2003

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
Parshotam Mehra
War Without End: The Rise of Islamist Terrorism & Global Response
by Dilip Hiro. Routledge, London, 2002. Pages xxxiv + 513. Rs 495.

ITH 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?
Aradhika Sekhon

Lesser Breeds
by Nayantara Saghal. Harper Collins, India. Pages 369. Rs 395.

AYANTARA 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
Vikramdeep Johal

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
by Dai Sijie. Translated from the French by Ina Rilke. Vintage Books, UK. Pages 172. £ 3.95.

WO 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 revolution?


Write view
Must-read for wannabe parents
Randeep Wadehra

Smart Start for Your Baby
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 psychological.

Bad times for writers of verse
Suresh Kohli
T 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
Akshaya Kumar
Review of History and the Present
edited by Partha Chatterjee and Anjan Ghosh. Permanent Black, New Delhi. Pages 273. Rs 575.

FTER 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.

The 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.
RELIGION 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
HE 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 fact.