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3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  322 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Transcript of author's talks with cross-section of people from India, Pakistan, Nepal on the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998.
Hardcover, 108 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Ravi Dayal Publishers
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Dec 31, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to read; its simple language makes it easily digestible, its size makes it a commute-friendly quickread. Focussed on the 11th May 1998 nuclear device testing in Pokaran, Rajasthan, the book covers different points of view on various related elements of the test including Indo-Pakistan relations. The different viewpoints, presented as intereviews with key players in the debates, makes for interesting reading. A recommended read to help understand how India thinks and responds ...more
Nov 03, 2015 Divya rated it it was ok
Had expected a lot given it's Amitav Ghosh, but just two pages into the page I knew what the writer believes in, who he is against - aka the Rajdeep Sardesai/Sagarika brand of journalism.

Some good info abt Indo-Pak relations, but at the end of it all, there's really nothing you take away from this book. Should have been restricted to an op-ed article at best.
Aug 08, 2015 Sindhu rated it really liked it
It is never easy to get out of an Amitav Ghosh book and lead a normal life thereafter, as if you haven't been affected by anything. Countdown was no less different. Ghosh's first non-fiction publication from Ravi Dayal and Penguin is only 80 pages but makes you think of the many unturned, yellow edged pages of the history of the Indian subcontinent. A docu like narrative that is structured around India's nuclear test during the NDA regime, Countdown touches upon the many aspects of the politics ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Lester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. Only 80 pages long, this is a documentary account of the authors travels to India and Pakistan soon after a set of nuclear tests were performed by both in 1989. In this short volume, Ghosh manages to make geopolitics come alive through the stories of the politicians, activists and ordinary people he meets. The book reads like a novel, but has an ultimate purpose. Billions are spent not only on nuclear weapons, but on a facade of agression high in the himalayan glaciers which is both ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Anand rated it really liked it
This is the first non-fictional work that I read of Amitav Ghosh, and his craft of being profound yet comprehensible makes this 85 pager an very good read. It was, partially, published as a newspaper article and hence the style is that of a journalistic piece to begin with. However, by the 85th page, one feels as if having completed a proper long-form work of non-fiction. This essay is based on the May 1998 nuclear tests, first by India and then followed closely by Pakistan as a retaliation. As ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
This is a curious little book, written in the wake of the nuclear tests conducted by India Pakistan in 1998. It started out as an article in the New Yorker and retains the immediacy of a journalist’s approach. But Amitav Ghosh is better known as a novelist and, in the manner of V.S. Naipaul, manages to combine insightful analysis with the fiction writer’s eye for the deeper truth.

Fourteen years after the tests, there are elements of the book that are dated; but surprisingly much of the descript
Prem Kumar
Aug 22, 2014 Prem Kumar rated it it was amazing
We have all known Amitav Ghosh as the weaver of stories, bringing to life exotic locations and eras. This time he casts his focus on the nuclear dilemmas plaguing India and Pakistan and does so inimitably with style and precision.

On one side he relates the almost illogical underestimation of the nuclear threat on the Indian side who are rather seduced by the ephemeral promises of 'superpower-dom' and on the other hand the logical but overtly pessimistic view on the Pakistani side where there is
Sep 08, 2015 Nitya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Does anyone really want a solution", he said quietly. In his voice there was the same note of despair I'd heard before. "I don't think anyone wants a solution. Things will just go on, like this."

The "he" is George Fernandes, India's Defence Minister at the time of the 1998 nuclear tests (though it is believed that he was not in the loop about the tests). That sentence lays bare one of the many notes of despair in this essay and strikes a quiet fear in me. Things are not going to change. None of
Jan 05, 2016 Uttara rated it liked it
The book shook my belief about Indian nuclear warheads, which I believed were only a means for India to flex its muscles. Looking at the volatile relations between India and Pakistan it made me think about the real threat of a nuclear war in the subcontinent.
Although Amitav Ghosh from a humanitarian point speaks about all the negative implications of a nuclear war, I felt that it is a very one sided view about the whole argument. The fact that nuclear arsenals are a reality today and might have
Abhishek Dey
May 01, 2014 Abhishek Dey rated it really liked it
Countdown is a nice handbook for journalists. It teaches how to do in-depth reporting. Though it lacks objectivity; that is not an indispensable demanded from an in-depth story any how.

I am unsure about how much people from a non-academic or non-journalism background will like it. It is not a part of the Amitav Ghosh fiction legacy
Apr 06, 2015 Kartik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-writing
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Nov 19, 2013 Radharani rated it it was amazing
An enchanting travelogue, very easy to read, about the aftermath of the Pokhran nuclear tests by the Indian Government on 11th May, 1998 and the Pakistani nuclear tests in response 17 days later. A superb writer of fiction, Amitav Ghosh also writes very accessible non-fiction of his travels, mostly in south and south-east Asia, and the socio-politics of the region. Countdown is an excellent addition to this portfolio, and it is a thin book at less than 100 pages.

The book follows Ghosh's travels
Harinder Singh
Feb 26, 2015 Harinder Singh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Ghosh is a master painter of prose with the most fertile imagination and a way with words which very few writers can claim to possess. This quick read starts at Pokharan, talking about our misconstrued perceptions about what it means to be a nuclear "power", the author moves onward to examine Siachen and the Pakistani way of life. The climax of the book is a rather indulgent yet depressing assessment of the possibilities if Delhi were to be Ground Zero for a nuclear strike. Lovely read, I'm ...more
Apr 10, 2016 Swateek rated it liked it
This one was truly interesting to know about India's second nuclear research experiment in 1998. I had heard all good things but reading this actually opened my mind to another prospect of its other influencing factors. Reminded me of George Fernandez's struggle in Indian politics and how he's among one unsung heroes.
Jan 18, 2016 Sanchita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, another very lucidly written book. Even though he's mainly retelling conversations interspersed by a few observations, he manages to convey the situation of India's nuclear problems within the context of the world in general and South Asia in particular very effectively. Excellent read.
Ritabrata Chatterjee
Good book to pass some idle time and general knowledge. Some very interesting perspectives on India-Pakistan relationship. But then at the end nothing much to carry back as you would have expected at the start of this non-fiction.
Mrinal sharma
Its a symbol of spectacular journalistic writing. You could have expected this coming only from Amitav Ghosh. The book is a 150 pager but delved deeply into empathic issues with the Pokharan tests and allied issues not only in the nation but also our troubled-troubling neighbours Pakistan. It has picked up real time character like Asma Jehangir from Pakistan and brilliantly elucidates the resentment amongst various factions withing Pakistan who are not supportive of the govenrment's policies.

Nov 30, 2014 Manjula rated it really liked it
This is a great book- I had never seriously thought about India's and Pakistan's stand on nuclear weapon till I read this book. Though small, this gives a clear illustration of the impact as well
Ajitabh Pandey
A great essay explaining the consequences of the nuclear rat race in the Indian subcontinent. It also explains that the nuclear threat is between India and Pakistan is merely because of the politicians and not because the people of the countries want it. Most of the people in both the countries do not even understand what they will gain by having a nuclear bomb. The basic problem for both the countries remain Bread, Cloth and House ("Roti, Kapdaa Aur Makaan"). It will be interesting to see that ...more
Vishü Krocha
Akshay Anurag
Oct 02, 2015 Akshay Anurag rated it really liked it
I just loved this book. Amitav's writing is very clear and precise. The joy in reading this book comes from the fact that it gives deep insights into the lives of different kinds of people, those who suffered the nuances of nuclear testing, those who insisted on these testings and the politicians related to these decisions. The most significant part: you get a splendid insight into the thoughts and lives of a nation - Pakistan.
Oct 01, 2012 Anoop rated it it was amazing
If you are interested, even in the slightest way, about the nuclear policy of India and Pakistan you should read this book. Loved the way he starts with the village near the Pokhran site and ends with the cataclysmic image of a New Delhi devastated by a nuclear attack. Also, brought back memories of Leh, enlightened by the passages on George Fernandes, Siachen Glacier and the interview with Asma Jahangir.
Abhishek Nayak
Jun 24, 2013 Abhishek Nayak rated it liked it
Given the author is Amitav Ghosh i had actually expected something ( No, a lot actually) more from this book. The book being a sort of autobiographical account of the 1999 nuclear tests lacks information .It lacks opinion. I was just somewhat satisfied (and that's only because i read this on a train, i had nothing else to do)
Anil Swarup
Nov 30, 2013 Anil Swarup rated it liked it
No where near his best. Amitav is good at story-telling and not as good at articulating his views on issues as he attempts to do in his book. He still makes out a strong case against the nuclear tests. He also narrates his personal experiences with the usual ease. The book makes an interesting reading.
Dec 12, 2010 Brad rated it it was amazing
A surprising little travel book journeyed and written in the wake of India's and Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests. Among other things, it includes a snapshot of the Taliban's role in Peshawar and Quetta in Pakistan over a decade ago, a role that has only grown larger since.
Riju Ganguly
Mar 13, 2012 Riju Ganguly rated it really liked it
A provocative piece of non-fiction, that is, befitting the standards of the author, superbly written. You may agree with his views, and you may disagree. But you would love to read his writing. Recommended.
Prabhdeep Singh
Aug 15, 2011 Prabhdeep Singh rated it really liked it
A book I picked up to thinking it would while away time before I start anything proper. But to my surprise it was more profound than what I expected it to be.

A mus read!
Mukesh Kumar
Mar 13, 2013 Mukesh Kumar rated it really liked it
Fantastic. Amitav Ghosh is the best and most knowledgeable contemporary Indian writer. Period.
Feb 08, 2013 Vicks rated it really liked it
one of the few timeless books, too bad i lost it.
Navdeep Kalyan
Navdeep Kalyan rated it really liked it
Sep 30, 2016
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Amitav Ghosh is one of India's best-known writers. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide. His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexan
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“I'd been surprised by the depth of emotion that was invested in that curiously archaic phrase 'great power'. What would it mean, I'd asked myself, to the lives of working journalists, salaried technocrats and so on if India achieved 'great power status'? What were the images evoked by this tag?

Now, walking through this echoing old palace, looking at the pictures in the corridors, this aspiration took on, for the first time, the contours of an imagined reality. This is what the nuclearists wanted: to sign treaties, to be pictured with the world's powerful, to hang portraits on their walls, to become ancestors. On the bomb they had pinned their hopes of bringing it all back.”
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