It's a very small book; few essays that are indicative of this man's legacy. Yet there is so much more to this man, who is not mentioned enough when wIt's a very small book; few essays that are indicative of this man's legacy. Yet there is so much more to this man, who is not mentioned enough when we speak of India's freedom struggle, which I think is a shame. The book is not so much an introduction to the man himself, as much as it is an introduction to his legacy.
A good book, perhaps, to get you curious about this tall leader....more
By far one of the best biographies written - notwithstanding whether you love or hate Steve Jobs or Apple. A beautiful insight into the person, unmodeBy far one of the best biographies written - notwithstanding whether you love or hate Steve Jobs or Apple. A beautiful insight into the person, unmoderated and unfiltered. Sometimes even mean (but then that was the life). To enjoy this book, I think you will need to be curious of the life of Steve Jobs, however....more
I read this book as a requirement of a course I was doing. The stories are interesting but the presentation is one of the worst I have come across.
BadI read this book as a requirement of a course I was doing. The stories are interesting but the presentation is one of the worst I have come across.
Bad language, interrupted flow of thoughts, and to many - I repeat - too many paragraph breaks. It feels like someone is outlining the story, before you write the story and then completely forgot to flesh out the story, read it aloud and see if it makes sense. You will need to put in a lot of effort to read this book.
If it was well-written, this could have well become a a motivational and an inspirational book....more
My first impression of this book is that it is exhausting. The narrative is engaging and the content is inspiring. But the matter is exhausting.
The exMy first impression of this book is that it is exhausting. The narrative is engaging and the content is inspiring. But the matter is exhausting.
The exhausting nature has very little to do with the manner of the book; it has much to do with the life of Lokmanya Tilak. There is a military sense of discipline with which he lived a life and an inspiring sense of conviction with which he conducted it.
A biographer’s task must always be difficult, I believe. It is interesting to wonder where the task starts. Does it start when a biographer says, “Here’s a great life that I want to write about?” Or are there other dimensions? Biographers are perhaps naturally partial to the personality. Not always, but going by most biographers, they choose to present a dimensioned view of the personality.
The authors of Lokmanya Tilak: A Biography have struggled to exit the biographer’s trap. There is an inherent devotion to the person, yet they often exit their comfort zone to criticise the person, the action, and the events. While it may be easy to assume that the book is an assemblage of the public life and presentations of Lokmanya Tilak, there’s more. It isn’t obvious at time, but it exists. There’s support from the authors to help understand the life in specific contexts. The presentation, unwillingly, I felt, is non-linear for the most part. But this device has been used to good effect. The obvious glorification of a great leader is absent; it is possible to see a person, bereft of the associated podium. The book is rooted in data, references, and statements; which are often interpreted but not embellished.
Indian history deserves a parallel narrative to the one that exists. This is one of the few books that will be a leader in that parallel. The Indian history narrative suffers from periodical amnesia; meaning that it chops off periods in Indian history to focus on popular and sponsored segments that capture our imagination. The chopping-off is due to certain sustained political and social reasons. Irrespective, this book, notwithstanding the tint of glasses that we wear, is an important contribution. Somewhere in the book, Lokmanya Tilak says:
Do not be satisfied with the paltry service rendered by a person like me. The national work before us is so wide and so essential that all of us should strive for it with much greater determination and enthusiasm. You cannot postpone the work. Our mother land challenges us to go after this and I do not think her sons will refuse the challenge. But I would urge upon you to sink all your differences and be ‘national gods.'
The context of the era is expansive, and perhaps even timeless. It is not limited to Lokmanya Tilak, even while being centric to him. Through the life of Lokmanya Tilak, the authors make statements that are relevant today. And only your personal awareness will question you, and therefore exhaust you. If you choose to pick this book, be ready for an assault on your mind and heart. It’s an adventure that you will cherish in spite of the questions you will end up asking yourself.
The balance, texture, and presentation of the narrative is what I enjoyed the most....more
One of the many books that I have finished a single or two sittings. While the obvious genre of the book would be historical analysis or biography, I
One of the many books that I have finished a single or two sittings. While the obvious genre of the book would be historical analysis or biography, I would happily put this on the storybook shelf.
The story of the Rani of Jhansi is one that most of us have heard in our childhood – without the details and the context of the circumstances prevalent during the Revolt of 1857. We heard the story of being brave and being patriotic – to an extent the passion of freedom - Mai apni Jhansi nahi doongi! (I will not give up my Jhansi).
This book was written by D. V. Tahmankar (d. 1982) and first published in 1958. Little information about Tahmankar is available on the Internet. According to the book, he:
[…:] was a correspondent of the Marathi newspaper Kesari before becoming the UK correspondent for the Deccan Herald till 1980. He set up the Lokmanya Tilak Memorial Trust and also wrote the biographies Lokamanya Tilak: Father of Indian Unrest and Maker of Modern India (1956) and Sardar Patel (1970).
His stint in the UK undoubtedly helped in the writing of the book (though it isn’t clear if he was in the UK when this book was published), however, according to the Open Library, this book was first published by Published in 1958, MacGibbon & Kee (London). He acknowledges the ungrudging help from the Librarian of the Commonwealth Office Library
The premise and the purpose of the book has been defined right from the first page. The story of this character has been biased by accounts of the British officers, and Tahmankar is out to ensure that
her career [which:] has borne a blemish all these years as a result of one-sided accounts of the massacre at Jhansi of English men, women and children.
is cleared through the reference of other sources and a deeper analysis of existing sources. And he does it well. I only regret the lack of a formal bibliography, and cross-references are embedded in the book rather than listed at the end. The references to Vishnu Bhatt Godse’s Majha Pravas (My Travels), published in 1907, by Chitrashala Press, Pune is something I’d like to lay my hands on. One clear assumption, when reading the book, I had to make, was that the references were valid.
More often than not, when an Indian writer picks up a story to be presented in the “correct context”, it usually leads to a blanket negation and grandiloquent discrediting of all British accounts and the glorification of all Indian historical personalities as heroes – usually, without valid references. This is not to say that the British accounts were in any way accurate – however an argument loses credibility without necessary support and references.
Tahmankar, on the other hand, presents a very balanced view of the personalities in his book. Whether it is Tatya Tope or Nana Saheb or Sir Hugh Rose, he relies on multiple references and their verifiable actions to present the true character of the personalities. Where necessary he is surgically analytical and boldly critical without being under duress of presenting a pompous or glorious Indian edition of the story.
The language he employs is simple and clear, with interesting shades of Indian English would have been prevalent at that time. It flows without interruption and each word is well-placed like a jig-saw puzzle that has been gently sand-papered to create a picture without the distorting grooves. He writes, for example:
This economic impact of British rule changed the even tenor of Indian social life with brutal suddenness. The process of disintegration was accentuated by the disrupting aspects of Lord Dalhousie’s administration which showed little respect for religious susceptibilities and political sentiments.
All through the book, Tahmankar makes precise use of adjectives to set the mood for the story. There is an uncanny tension that prevails throughout the book, and keeps your opinion balanced without making the book an effortful academic read.
Immensely enjoyable, I wish for more writers to take up the challenge of writing about Indian history that comes close to Tahmankar’s cogent presentation.
There is something about a private person's biography: it is a biography made possible by other people's views and insights into the private person'sThere is something about a private person's biography: it is a biography made possible by other people's views and insights into the private person's life.
Apart from that there is the usual chronology of incidents, mostly professional, which is a matter of public record anyway. Such a biography serves only on purpose: bring all that content in one place.
However, there is a value that the "compiler" (the author of the biography) really brings to the book and that is the presentation. Take a famous singer's biography, and I would think that there would be enough content there for the fans. Laura Jackson's biography of Paul Simon doesn't do that very well, yet it is a well presented biography. Because if you are Paul Simon fan, chances are that you are beyond mere gossip. To understand the life and times, mind and turmoil of your favourite singer, get to understand his art and approach to the art, is more important....more