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On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey into South Asia

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  146 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Available for the first time in paperback, Steve Coll's trek across a socially and politically damaged South Asia

Bestselling author Steve Coll is one of the preeminent journalists of the twenty-first century. His last two books, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars and New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens, have been praised for their creative insight and complex yet
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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Jun 24, 2010 Marieke rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone.
This is a reprint of a book Coll published in the early 90s after several years covering the region (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) for The Washington Post. The reprint includes an Epilogue that picks up with Bhutto's assassination in 2007.

The writing is slightly demanding--the reader must pay attention. But the reader is also rewarded for his efforts (sorry i'm just not into feminist linguistics; English should develop a neutral pronoun) because Steve Coll is fu
Feb 20, 2013 Seema rated it it was ok
This book is meant to be Steve Coll's
on-the-ground view of the state of things in post-Cold War South Asia (where he was a reporter at the time for the Washington Post). Some of the most interesting parts of this book were personal anecdotes or conversations Coll had with corrupt politicians or everyday people trying to survive (there is no doubt he was on-the-ground and had no fear whatsoever). But those more interesting parts were more towards the beginning.

The book started out strong, but ult
Vikas Datta
Feb 24, 2017 Vikas Datta rated it really liked it
Andrew Tollemache
Jun 09, 2016 Andrew Tollemache rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this one for a book club thing (DraughtHouse Book Club Meet-Up). I have read 2 of Steve Coll's more recent books, "Private Empire" and "Ghost Wars". "On the Grand Trunk Road" is over 20 years old, but that is what makes it so interesting. Coll structures the book as a travelogue analysis of various countries in Southern Asia including India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The India chapters are all focusing on how the 1980s move to liberalize India's economy
This is a very important book about political, social and religious strife in South Asia in the 1980s and early 1990s, with an updated/added epilogue about the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Unfortunately for this reader, the book was more scholarly than informative. The whole time I read this book, I wished it was more like Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald which I found to be much more relatable, contemporary and informative on a non-scholarly level. On the Grand Trunk Road reads like an exte ...more
Jan 13, 2010 Evan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though it was written in the 80s and reprinted nearly two decades later, Coll's overview of South Asian politics is still relevant today. Good background on the roots of the conflict in Sri Lanka, as well as the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Ghandi and Benazir Bhutto, and the suspicious death of Pakistani President Zia al-Haq. Also, if you want a concrete explanation for the religious riot at the beginning of "Slumdog Millionaire," I think you'll find it here.
Ellis Katz
May 20, 2013 Ellis Katz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The book was originally published in 1994, nineteen years ago, and so much is changed in those nineteen years. That is the problem with this book. It is too much an analysis of contemporary trends and happenings. That is to say, 1994 trends and happenings. While the author's descriptions are often colorful, and his comments sometimes insightful, too much has happened and too many other books on this topic have been published to make this one a high priority.
Catherine  Mustread
Jun 02, 2009 Catherine Mustread marked it as to-read
Recommended to Catherine by: PEN
Sounds like an interesting travel book including trains -- how will it compare with Theroux? Author won PEN award for The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century
Grindy Stone
Jul 10, 2014 Grindy Stone rated it really liked it
Unexpectedly good read. Part travelogue, part current events primer, the situation in South Asia may have evolved dramatically since the book was initially published, but they're written so well that one can still come away with a grasp on the forces and dynamics at play on the subcontinent.
Jan 05, 2008 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and charming look at the Indian subcontinent, its life and politics and traffic, from before S. Coll got all serious and grown-up and wrote the far less interesting "Ghost Wars".
Oct 07, 2013 Tanvir rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did not like it
Jun 03, 2015 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't finish. He was trying to cover too much and it just wasn't engaging.
Aug 05, 2009 Elissa is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Embarrassing how little I know about S. Asia!
Naila Hameed
Feb 11, 2014 Naila Hameed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To understand the historic, political
,social and cultural roots of the present day problems of South Asia, a must read !
Makes you smile, laugh out loud ,and tugs at your heart strings .
Claire S
I realize this is a reprint of a book first released in 1993, sounds very fascinating nonetheless.
Richard S.
Richard S. rated it really liked it
May 22, 2016
Maimuna Majumder
Maimuna Majumder rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2017
Thomas rated it it was ok
Nov 21, 2010
Hank rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2007
Shubham rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2013
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Feb 02, 2011
Karen Mccallum
Karen Mccallum rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2015
Steven Susmilch
Steven Susmilch rated it liked it
Mar 09, 2014
Bryan rated it really liked it
Jun 13, 2009
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Jill rated it really liked it
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Steve Coll is President & CEO of New America Foundation, and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post, serving as the paper's managing editor from 1998 to 2004.

He is author six books, including The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of AT&T (1986); The Taking of Getty Oil (1987); Eagle on t
More about Steve Coll...

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