Votary of freedom
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sarmad
by V. N. Datta. Rupa. Pages 49. Rs 295.
TheRE is a growing interest among intellectuals to understand the leaders as well as events of the past. Rightly so, for there is a new generation of readers who are ready to accept bare facts put in the right perspective. Historians and other writers are helping by satiating this demand of their readers. This has only led to further search and research.

The woman behind the Bard
Was she blind? Was she illiterate? Germaine Greer has fun with the posthumous reputation of Ann Hathaway, writes Min Wild
Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer. Bloomsbury. Pages 416. £37.41.
Whatever do we have here? Biography? Social history? For a heartstopping moment it could be a novel, as the jacket photograph of a headless Tudor-clad woman with carefully manicured hands might suggest. The blurb is misleading, with its crashingly inaccurate assertion that this book is different because, in previous discussions of the Shakespeare marriage, "social historians have avoided becoming embroiled in the Shakespeare industry and Shakespearean scholars have steered clear of social history."

Look East for the other Sikh
Roopinder Singh

Diaspora is any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland. The Sikhs in Calcutta certainly qualify as diaspora. Like other people in similar situations, they identify with the "home" culture and have played a significant role in the politics of Punjab, including in the Punjabi Suba movement. A Punjabi weekly magazine, Desh Darpan, reflected their sentiments. However, not all Sikhs in Calcutta trace their roots to Punjab, there are also Sikhs from Assam, Bihar and Orissa, whose traditions are at variance with those of the Punjabi Sikhs.

Gripping tale of survival
K. Rajbir Deswal
There, Where the Pepper Grows
by Bem Le Hunte. HarperCollins. Pages 296. Rs 295.
This is a masterly work of purposeful fiction in the backdrop of a historical perspective, advocating tolerance and fellow feeling. A saga of atrocity, intensity, conflict and despair, it finds a happy ending; while throughout the narrative, the uprooted Jewish characters had "no sense of belonging" to any place in the world till they reach Calcutta by chance, and the place becomes their "Palestine and Jerusalem."

The making of a legendary club
M.S. Unnikrishnan
Chelsea Football Club: The Official History in Pictures
by Rick Glanvill. Headline. Pages 224.
When the "billionare from nowhere," Roman Abramovich, bought Chelsea football club "lock, stock and barrel" on July 1, 2003, many fans believed that he was yet another "money bag" out to dunk his wealth on a sinking ship. But the tycoon was no dumb gambler out to play Russsian roulette with his wealth. He was out to make money no doubt, but he was also determined to make Chelsea turn the corner. Once Abramovich was in charge, he embarked on the "biggest act of wealth distribution in world football" to hire prized players at a mindboggling cost.


Satire and surrealism
Barry Forshaw

The President’s Last Love
by Andrey Kurkov. Harvill Secker. Pages 400. £12.99
Is jet-black humour the best way to confront oppressive regimes? Certainly, Russia and its former satellite countries have groaned under a series of unprepossessing political grandes from ages. And Russian-language writers from Gogol onwards have wielded the scalpel of humour to flay the pretensions of power.


Sketchy journey
Arun Gaur
India: A Journey Through a Healing Civilisation
by Shashank Mani. HarperCollins, New Delhi. Pages XIII + 213.
1997, the author organised a chartered train journey that started from Mumbai with 200 young men and women. The aim of the journey was to see what India has achieved so far and what remains to be done and how it should be done. The 13 chapters of the book tend to describe the encounters at different places, including Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Tilonia, Jaipur, Amritsar, Delhi, Lucknow, Bodh Gaya, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Aurangabad. In all, 15 cities and two villages were covered in 22 days.

Power of Gandhi’s truth
Paras Ramoutar

A book on Mahatma Gandhi by a Trinidadian has raised a new debate on the relevance of Gandhian philosophy in the 21st century. Darryl Naranjit’s Truth and Power: Gandhi’s Political Philosophy gives a cogent analysis of the political, economic, social and spiritual strategies of Gandhi in his quest for equality for the Blacks and Indians in South Africa.

Story from the Raj
Neena Bhandari

An Australian academic, self-confessed Indophile, Ralph Crane, is resurrecting the writings of a forgotten Anglo-Indian novelist Maud Diver. Diver (1867-1945), author of more than two dozen books, was a regular on the bestseller booklist in Britain during her lifetime.