Challenges to India’s security
V. N. Datta
Will the Iron Fence Save A Tree
Hollowed by Termites?
Defence Imperatives Beyond the Military.
by Arun Shourie. Rupa. Pages 587. Rs 595.
This big book (not the short one, as the author claims), full of massive information, and overflowing with facts and figures, focuses on the challenges, particularly military, that India faces from her neighbouring countries: Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.

Closer to light
A.J. Philip
The Spiral Staircase: A Memoir
Karen Armstrong
HarperCollins, Pages 342 £13.50
IT was love at first reading – Karen Armstrong’s Buddha: A Penguin Life. And that took me to Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. The way she handled profound theological questions in these thin volumes in an easy-to-comprehend layman’s language was indeed amazing. When I read her, I felt as if I were listening to a story narrated by my grandmother.

Simple, not simplistic
Jaswant Singh
No, My Lord: A Window on India’s Realpolitik
by Hari Jai Singh; Siddharth Publications, Pages 531; Rs. 600.
For nine years Hari Jaisingh was editor of The Tribune. All these years he brought under scrutiny the goings on in the world and explained to his readers what those happenings meant to the man in the street. This has not been an easy task, to say the least. But his writings have made a profound effect on the process of opinion-making in the north-western region of the country.

A woman’s place
Kumool Abbi
Gendered citizenship: Historical and Conceptual Explorations
by Anupama Roy. Orient Longman. Pages viii+291. Rs 550.
Anupama Roy’s work Gendered Citizenship: Historical and conceptual explorations engages the readers at two levels. While the first generally constitutes an interesting and thought-provoking addition to the academic literature on citizenship; the second is specifically of interest to Indian readers since it provides an account of little-known facets of women’s diverse engagements with the polity, both in colonial and contemporary India.

A life among stars
Kanchan Mehta
Cilla Black: What’s it All About?
by Cilla Black. Ebury Press, London. Pages 406. £ 3.95.
Life’s mysteries and uncertainties form the real subject of any autobiography. The autobiography of Cilla Black, Britain’s pop star and TV icon, plays up these factors to draw attention to her unique personality.

Pearls of the Orient
Jaswant Singh
The Mortal Moon
translated by Chanda Atwal. Kapoor Investments Ltd, Canada. Pages 207.
These love stories (kissas) of the Orient by famous writers/poets have been translated into English by Chanda Atwal who is settled in Vancouver. Of the seven equally captivating, I am dwelling on some, Sassi-Poonu by Hashim is a famous traditional love story.

Signs and signatures
The Shakespeare effect on Keats
Darshan Singh Maini
Though a very large number of critics have written on the influence of the Bard of Avon on Keats, I have perhaps a new view to offer.

HINDI Review
Easy Marx
Harbans Singh
Aalochak Ke Mukh Se – Namwar Singh
Ed. Khagendra Thakur; Rajkamal Prakashan, Pages 107, Rs. 125
There are not many people who have influenced Hindi literature as much as Dr. Namwar Singh. At ease with the written and the spoken word, he has been in the vanguard of progressive literary movement. Because of his clarity of thought, erudition and felicity with the spoken word, from his early days as a historian of literature, he has been much sought after for delivering lectures.

Short Takes
Upbeat about India
Randeep Wadehra
Envisioning Empowered Nation
by A P J Abdul Kalam with A. Sivathanu Pillai. Tata-McGraw-Hill, New Delhi. Pages: xxiv+255. Price: not stated.

Black Rose & other stories
by Anjali Khandwalla (Translation: Pradip Khandwalla). Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi. Pages: 152. Rs. 150

Ambient Leaves
by Prof Mohan Singh ‘Mahir’ (Translation: Dr. Raghbir S. Basi). Five Rivers Publishers Inc., Jalandhar. Pages: 111. Rs. 150

Books received: English