The reason I picked up this book was because of the review by Poonam, here
Frankly, I have nothing much to add, other than what she has said in her revThe reason I picked up this book was because of the review by Poonam, here
Frankly, I have nothing much to add, other than what she has said in her review, except for one thing: Pace.
For a very long time, I have not read writing that allows you to read so quickly without missing out on any of the details. And, makes you want to know more, move ahead. Racy. Thoroughly enjoyable. Of course, you need to have some curiosity of the Mumbai Mafia. And knowing the city helps.
There's much commotion these days of books being banned and such. While this is not abook in the true sense of the word (it is a statement by NathuramThere's much commotion these days of books being banned and such. While this is not a book in the true sense of the word (it is a statement by Nathuram Godse, given in court as he stood accused of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi), it is perhaps one of the earliest documents that was banned by the government, from being published. (The ban was lifted in 1968).
It has been converted to a book form by his younger brother, who was also imprisoned as a co-conspirator for abetment and was imprisoned for life (released in 1964 after serving 16 years). While the statement of Nathuram Godse is the meat of the book — 102 of the 208 pages — has now been released with context, by his brother, Gopal Godse.
Like most medium-sized Indian publications, the book suffers heavily from a lack of editorial and design intervention. All the more unfortunate for this specific and critical episode in our history. Needless to say, the controversial nature of the content, even after six decades, is perhaps the reason why no major publisher in India will ever seek to acquire such a title. It, then, automatically falls to the small-and-medium sized publishers.I'd like to congratulate Farsight Publishers for that.
Irrespective of your own beliefs of the role, contribution, and the impact of various leaders in the Indian Freedom Struggle, this book is worth a read. That this man assassinated the most popular figure in the history of Indian independence cannot be a reason not to read the book; in fact it is the reason, why this book needs to be read. The statement by Nathuram Godse is an articulate statement of his reason. And this being a court record, there is little scope for a fiction-creep, and perhaps, therefore, less easy to dismiss as fiction.
It matters less whether your reasons are right or wrong, and which prism they are viewed from. It matters more how convinced you are in your purpose and how well you can rationally defend and articulate that purpose. Nathuram Godse did that with great skill and art.
For that one reason, at least, this is a definite read....more
Dennis Kincaid, the son of CA Kincaid, of the famous “History of the Maratha People”, co-authored by Parasnis, wrote this bA luxuriously written book.
Dennis Kincaid, the son of CA Kincaid, of the famous “History of the Maratha People”, co-authored by Parasnis, wrote this book after he came to India around 1928, but the this book was published posthumously, in 1937.
As has been mentioned in the preface by TN Chaturvedi, “… Charles (Allen Kincaid), the historian, is remembered today more for hid non-historical writings; while Dennis, the novelist, is known more for his two works on non-fiction.”
As an Indian, the word rebel, in the subtitle is a bit disconcerting before the book is read, for it perhaps betrays the impending tone of the treatment of Shivaji’s life and work, in the book. Yet, Dennis Kincaid keeps himself away from the intrigues of analysis, the slopes of bias, and the traps of -isms.
That Dennis Kincaid was a novelist at heart is obvious from the first word to the last. If someone, who had never heard of Shivaji would read the book, the reader would be delighted in the language and the judicious and unequivocal use of devices of fiction-writing, in what is actually strictly a work of non-fiction; a biography (with proper endnotes and such).
It is a delicious read, and recommended.
The very few factual inaccuracies are to be forgiven. Much more information has come to the fore since the 1930s, when he wrote this book. If this is a way of writing non-fiction, more power to you.
PS: I really wish good publishers like Rupa would invest more effort in copy-editing. The typos in Indian publishing are way to jarring and way too common. ...more
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 too 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. Also, who writes books in ALL CAPS??
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
What a wonderful opportunity this was to bring out the story of this great patriot. While there is enough detail about the trial, and backed up by resWhat a wonderful opportunity this was to bring out the story of this great patriot. While there is enough detail about the trial, and backed up by research and such, somehow, at the end, I was left with a sense of incompleteness. As if, there's more to this than is written in the book.
There's little about the 'life' of Bhagat Singh, and more of the 'trial' of Bhagat Singh. The author takes on some fictional license at places, and suddenly we find the language to be a bit ornate.
Yet, if you are interested in the life of Bhagat Singh, this is a good book. There's much to know about the patriot through his writings and thoughts. Like any other popular leader, there is a slice of his life that we have come to know about, and that is what we celebrate, without ever understanding the motivation and the philosophy. That Bhagat Singh was an anarchist, is interesting to note. For me personally so, because the book I finished just before this one, was On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky. It was interesting to note the reference of popular anarchists and their writings in these two books.
The details, of the episode of Gandhi's "intervention" to save Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru, are lesser known, and the author has used extracts and full letters for a better understanding of the circumstances that prevailed, as well as the the thinking of the Congress, at the time.
That he was an atheist, I knew. But to read his essay, "Why I am an Atheist" was an eye opener. At such a young age, to have the background, perception, and importantly the conviction (after "converting" to atheism) is indeed heartening.
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.