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The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,984 ratings  ·  265 reviews
Winner of the CWA Nonfiction Dagger Award, the definitive account of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai

Mumbai, 2008. On the night of November 26, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists attacked targets throughout the city, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels. For sixty-eight hours, hundreds were held hostage as shots rang out and an
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published October 1st 2013)
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Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Let’s talk about incompetence.

Political incompetency is not a new thing for India. In fact, Indian politicians would make a clean sweep of Gold, Silver, and Bronze if there was such a thing as “The Incompetency Olympics”.

Talks about 26/11 terrorist attacks of Mumbai usually start with the involvement of Pakistani rogue intelligence agency, ISI, the terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and end with the only captured terrorist, Ajmal Kasab (hanged on 21st November 2012). What people don’t tal
Arun Divakar
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are two ways in which I could write this review :

1. Tell you about the incompetency of the system which allowed such a brazen act of terrorism on Indian soil to escalate to previously unseen levels. Right from the botched up handling of external and domestic intelligence handling to the readiness of the police, the security groups or the nation there are countless things I can talk about.

2. Puff up my chest and say that even after this mayhem, India saved a lot of hostages and the battle n
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few hours into their attack on the Taj Mumbai (an exclusive five star hotel located in the Indian city of Mumbai), frustrated and tired terrorists complained to their Pakistani handler that they were getting bored waiting for Indian security forces to engage them. One terrorist in fact said this was "no fun". The irritated handler told them to blow up portions of the hotel in the meantime. For some reason they kept failing to do so, probably because they were too tired. This is hilarious (not ...more
Mikey B.
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an account of the terrorist siege in Mumbai, India in November/2008. There were ten terrorists, well trained and well armed, who attacked a major railroad station, a restaurant, a Jewish Chabab House, and two large hotels. They killed 166 people and over 300 hundred were wounded. Anyone in the vicinity of this heinous attack had their lives transformed forever. They killed indiscriminately, firing their AK47s into large crowds, maiming and killing young and old, poor and rich, women and ...more
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Quick Book Review : The Siege by Cathy Scott - Clark and Adrian Levy

What's it about : The 26/11 attack on Taj (focussed on that specifically)

Good Things : Breadth and Depth of Research - both Primary and Secondary.A google search on the references alone will blow ur socks off) - yet a humble acknowledgement from the writer duo that such deep trauma often twists recollection of reality and hence versions of the same event could be different / opposed. Narrative chronology and veracity verified by
Shampa Paul
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched book on the accounts of 26/11. How the authors weave the true events of the tragedy into a book, deserves the praising. A big salute to all the people who help to save many lives without caring for their own.
A must read!!!
Scott Whitmore
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously researched by authors Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel is a riveting account of the Nov. 26, 2008, terrorist attack on Mumbai, India, by ten young Pakistani men affiliated with the group Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The staff of the Taj Hotel — men and women who were chefs, waiters, restaurant managers and security personnel — performed countless acts of heroism during the siege and many sacrificed themselves so that others could escape. Although ill-pr
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: abandoned
I only got 1/2 way. Insanity coupled with incompetence; it's just too dire for me to want to read any more. When will this threat of fanatic jihad be seen for what it is? Since 9-11 or this horrid, horrid event inside The Taj, nor numbers of other bombings and massacres of innocent victims on 3 or 4 continents doesn't seem to have rung any of the right bells now, I do despair.

They are continually soliciting more killer volunteers every day from Europe and the Americas on the internet for this ex
Omar Ali
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pop history in the vein of "Black Hawk Down". Well written, well researched. Brings home the horror and cold blooded evil of the attack very well. A bit thin in the "afterword" section. In fact, surprisingly so. Considering how much research the two authors seem to have managed, a little more information about what happened (or did not happen) in the aftermath would have been nice.
PS: the authors show the full horror of the attack as well as all the ineptitude and bungling in the Indian respons
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, india
Review to come soon!
Barbara LeMere
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good read. The Terrorist attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai was scary enough just watching the news on TV but this book really gets inside the plot from the beginning stages when the boys were recruited, how it was planned, executed, what went wrong for the Terrorists, The Police, the guests. It gives the accounts from staff perspective, the guest perspective, and the terrorist and police perspective and shows the bravery of both the staff, the guests, and the security forces insi ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel is an unusually compelling non-fictional account of the notorious 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which captured the world's attention. I can corroborate the word of other commentators who praise the depth of research by authors Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrien Levy; the level of detail they have compiled is incredible. Moreover, you can count me as one of crowd who found this book to be an absolutely absorbing pageturner; it was more compelling than many well-writte ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's hard to say one enjoys a book such as this, but I do think it's an important event worthy of wider familiarity, especially in the West. Based on this book, along with the recently released The Wrong Enemy, it's pretty clear now that Pakistan should have been included in the so-called "axis of evil." Actually, an argument could be made that they are Member #1 of such an axis.

One of the frustrating lessons to be drawn from the attacks in Mumbai relates to how unprepared the Indian government
Archita Mitra
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If any book should come with a trigger warning, this one should. Especially for Mumbaikars. I could never read more than a few pages at a time. It's as spine-chilling as any thriller I have read, and much more terrifying. It's really well-researched and the events unfold in elaborate detail. Right from the political incompetencies to the silent heroism of the Taj staff, this book brings the horror of 'the seige' alive. It's terrifying but a story worth reading.
I salute every staff member of the
Sheetal Maurya - Godse (Halo of Books)
The terrible attack on the evergreen Mumbai, an economic hub of the country. The ghastly flame from the iconic Taj Hotel, CST railway station filled with the blood of passenger, family crying for their loved ones. I think all these images are still fresh in the mind of Indians. 26/11 was one of the most dreading attacks in the world. It not only shook the entire world but it also shows how much terrorism has spread its roots. This book is an honest retelling of the siege of Taj Hotel on 26 Novem ...more
Kerry Reilly
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book while staying in the Taj Palace just after the 5yr anniversary of the 26/11 attack is cool but scary. This is to Mumbai what 9/11 is to New Yorkers. I saw a man this morning bristling at the tight security- but halfway through the book I now understand why Indian five star hotels look under cars with mirrors, x-ray bags, and send people through metal detectors to get in the lobby. Actually what is scary is how haphazard a lot of the security is, unarmed hotel guards waving peop ...more
Ben Estes
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This book in one word: harrowing. Before reading this, I'm embarrassed to admit that I knew essentially nothing about the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 that were centered on the Taj Hotel. To that end, the book usefully served as a densely-packed primer about the incident. The authors' legwork is impressive—the level of detail is striking enough that at times I felt like I was right there on the ground along with everyone else at the Taj. But often that same meticulousness was too distract ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Written by Cathy Scott Clark and Adrian Levy, 'The Siege' is a non-fictionalized account of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, planned and engineered by the Lashkar e Taiba.
In this meticulously researched book, filled with first-hand accounts of heroism and heart break, you experience dread, triumph, relief and at times utter frustration (at the inadequacy and the pace of response from the city, state and national authorities). The story is mostly chronological, seamlessly tying together narratives/exp
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Siege could easily have been a human interest story. Except that it is not. It is a well researched, dramatic narrative of the horror that brought India to it's knees on 26/11.

The research has been extensive, to the extent that it talks about the emotions of the survivors and from their viewpoint, the psyche of the dead! Some extrapolations, a lot of 'versions' that have been accommodated and the details of the operation rebuilt from clues and accounts. It must have been no easy task.

It als
A Man Called Ove
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
As may be evident from the title and cover, this book is on the Mumbai Terror attacks carried out on 26th November 2008 by Ajmal Kasab & co from the terrorist organisation LeT based in Pakistan. The book focuses on "the siege" (attack) of the Taj Hotel which ironically was carried out by the terrorists holed up inside the hotel (and not surrounding it as in a siege).
Firstly, lets talk of the Mumbai police which is often spoken of proudly. The police shockingly played a game of political correct
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very concise and yet moving story of what happened when terrorists took hostages and killed indiscriminatly in the Taj hotel. We get both a look at the terrorists and the victims, and their experiences that day. The writing is clear, and the author sticks to the story and the events as it happened. It makes the book go by quickly, but still dwells on the important details.

A sad but important book, especially as this was a terrorist incident that I don't recall getting much airtime in Australia
Apurva Mujumdar
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haven't read a lot of non fiction books that hold your attention and manage to portray such a gripping narrative.This book has managed to paint a very clear picture of what happened during one of the worst terror attacks in India. While it's heartbreaking to read it, what I really liked was the extent of research that went in writing this book and how the authors did a stellar job at reaching out to a spectrum of people who were all a part of this tragedy one way or the other. ...more
Liz Barnsley
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Catherine at Penguin for tracking down a copy of this book for me.

So, recently I decided to expand my reading yet again by starting to read some more non-fiction - something I've only dipped a toe into every now and again, much preferring fiction and all the adventures you can find there...

I started with Jamie Baywoods often hilarious account of how she settled into a new home- Getting Rooted in New Zealand - and then moved onto a "self help" book for those suffering a loss "You can
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tears threatened to fill my eyes. My throat constricted. More than once.

I had just finished reading the book.

Shangrila hotel in Pudong, China is where I had switched on the TV on the evening of November 26, 2008 and watched the attack on the Taj in horror. All other thoughts were replaced by sheer incredulity - how could this happen? Crime is not unknown in Mumbai and neither are bombings, but a group of men walking around with guns just shooting down people? In South Bombay? Never.

I had spent
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For the sheer meticulousness of the research this book deserves its rating. The planning of the Lashkar terrorist team and the hour wise travails of the captive guests are brought out in gut wrenching detail. This book is a clear must read for every Indian particularly our national security teams to make sure that we guard against such elements by beefing up the security in a much more elaborate manner.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel is riveting account an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan that carried out horrific attacks across the city of Mumbai, India in 2008. The book chronicles what happen to people at the Hotel Taj the night the terrorist attacked. Unless you are from India or Pakistan get a notebook ready because there is lot of names, places, and events happening. The book jumps around between terrorist and the victims. The reader learns about the origins of the attack, the upb ...more
Viji Suresh
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The past week, I lived inside Taj. I could smell the fumes, gun powder and the singed skins and hair. "Ack ack ack" was the sound I constantly heard this week during the silent nights I spent reading this book. The incompetence of the government in bringing in the commandos; the avoidable delays that robbed away the lives of hundreds. At the peril of death people unite and the act of survival tops their lists. When the ak47's loomed before them, their were two probabilities, to keep themselves a ...more
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-ebooks
It's been a little over 5 years, but reading this book brought everything back, like it was yesterday. I took less than 24 hours to read the book despite taking mini breaks just to breathe, assimilate and process. Yes, it was a compelling read. Yes, it made me feel angry, helpless, frightened and despite all that reading, so many accounts inspired me as well. The heroic accounts, the bravery, the selflessness shown by so many people. I don't know how I would have reacted but the bravery of so ma ...more
Anil Swarup
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to find an actual event being narrated in a manner it has been in "The Siege". The authors have researched various aspects and spoken to those that went through the traumatic experience to build a fast-paced and "un-put-downable" book. The book is also a tribute to those that went well beyond the call of duty to assist those that were trapped. The exemplary courage of the General Manager of the Taj Hotel stands out. There are indeed a large number of unanswered questions as there ...more
Mansi Kapur
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very incisive. Written with a deep understanding of the event, characters and more importantly, of the region. What unfolded in those three days is mind-numbing; the authors have recreated the horror unforgivingly and the helplessness delicately.
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