India’s geopolitical importance
Parshotam Mehra
The Future of the Great Game: Sir Olaf Caroe, India’s Independence and the Defence of Asia.
Peter John Probst. University of Akron Press, Ohio.
Pages xx + 199. $ 15.

major thrust of this slim volume based on Caroe’s long and distinguished career in the Indian civil service, his eventful tenure as foreign secretary (1939-45) and governor of NWFP (1946-7) apart from his extensive writings is to give the lie to an oft-repeated canard that he worked for the creation of Pakistan. More, that in the mid-1950s, he was the ‘grey eminence’ behind the US administration’s decision to arm Pakistan.

Learning through teaching
Amrik Singh

The Narrow Corridor: Moments in a Woman’s Life
by Muriel Wasi. Promila & Co, New Delhi.
Pages 117. Rs 295.

many people have heard about Muriel Wasi who had retired from the Ministry of Education in 1970 as Deputy Educational Adviser. After her retirement, she taught English at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and thereafter at the Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi for three and a half, and five years, respectively.

In good company
Deepika Gurdev

The Paradox of Excellence: How Great Performance Can Kill Your Business
by David Mosby and Michael Weissman. Josey Bass — a John Wiley Imprint.
$ 23. Pages 202.

something each one of us has faced. Often you find that the better you get at your job, the higher the bar for appraising you. While job definitions for two workers may be the same, it isn’t necessary that the super performer gets the just rewards at the end of the day.


From living to dead

Strangely Like War
by George Draffan and Derrick Jensen. Natraj Publishers, Dehradun. Rs. 250.
Pages 185.

worldwide are under siege! They are being plundered, exploited and murdered by the human axe—helplessly, without a fight, they fall down, dead. The irony is that while humans wage the deadly war on trees in the guise of development, they do not realise that it is their own generations that they imperil!

5 million more Da Vinci Code
Josh Getlin

for the onslaught: For anyone who somehow missed picking up one of the 43 million hardcover copies of The Da Vinci Code that have been sold around the world in the last three years, the publisher is finally getting around to releasing the paperback—in a big way.

New South Asian magazine on the Net
new Internet magazine is being widely noticed by those interested in South Asia. The magazine, South Asia Post (, offers readers analysis and articles on many subjects, including politics, business, economy, films, art and literature.

Where distant lands come alive
Other Routes
1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing
Edited by Tabish Khair, Martin Leer, Justin D. Edwards and Hanna Ziadeh
Foreword by Amitav Ghosh
Signal Books Pages 421.

is a scholarly anthology, as expected when each of the editors is currently practising in universities in Northern Europe and Africa. If one leaves the editorial inputs preceding each extract aside, we have the most fascinating and readable excerpts from travellers spanning the Asian/African continents from the times of Faxian (Fa Hsien) in the 4th century till the Indian reformer Malabari’s visit to England in the late 19th.

That sense of wonder
Amitav Ghosh

Verse beyond space and time
Tabish Khair
ilgamesh, and the texts that followed it, also shatter the common myth that travel writing was in the past — because it is today — largely a prose genre. Apart from the travel in epic poems like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, we have texts like Kalidasa’s long poem Meghadutam (fifth to seventh century AD) that revolve around real or fictional travel. Around the same time in China, we also had Tang poetry, which contains poems that can only be read as descriptive and, in all likelihood, actual travel accounts. One can also claim that some Bhakti and Sufi poets in medieval times wrote travel-based poems.

Stories of strife
A.J. Philip
These Hills Called Home: Stories From A War Zone
by Temsula Ao Zubaan/
Penguin Pages 147. Rs 195.

IGHT years of ceasefire has made Nagaland a haven of peace in the Northeast. But this cannot obliterate memories of the harrowing times the state went through for much of the post-Independence period. While the rest of India celebrated Independence, the Nagas sought their own independence.

Short Takes
Laudable effort
Randeep Wadehra
The Death of Common Sense
by Vinish Garg
Arun Publishing House, Chandigarh. Pages 194. Rs 160.

novel is based on a couple of premises, viz., common sense is the most important ‘thing’ for a person, and secondly families having girls are happier than those without girls because sisters and daughters (wives/daughters-in-law are not mentioned) bring harmony. However neither commonsense nor importance is absolute concept.
Development of Physical Education and Sports in India
by Dr. Daisy Sheokand Unistar, Chandigarh. Pages 200. Rs 395.
Glimpses of My Life
by Balbir Singh
Trimurthy Enterprises, Delhi. Pages 191. Rs 195.

“You can psychoanalyse yourself and be paid for it”
Nirbir K. Ghosh
heart missed a beat when I received an e-mail from my friend Ethelbert Miller telling me about the tragic untimely demise of Octavia Butler (1947-2006) at Seattle, USA. I learnt that Octavia Butler, who was only 58, fell and hit her head on the sidewalk outside her Lake Forest Park home in Seattle and died. It just seemed like a Camus or Becket story ending. In the science-fiction world, death doesn’t necessarily mean The End.