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Archive for September, 2012


No One Had A Tongue to Speak
Utpal Sandesara & Tom Wooten | Rain Tree | Rs 495

This is one book you could thank the Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi for. He gave the authors an access to state archives that others refused to share. The book stitches together the narrative on one of India’s worst manmade disasters – the collapse of Gujarat’s Machhu Dam in 1979 and the subsequent floods that according to official records claimed 25,000 lives and destroyed the many small towns and villages, including the industrial town of Morbi. It’s a valuable addition to debate on large dams, even though the narrative barely stops to take a breath and analyse and instead, gushes through, like a flood.

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It’s Your Life!
Vinita Dawra Nangia | Times Group Books | Rs 250

Billed as reflections on contemporary life, Nangia, a columnist with a national daily, now offers a book comprising some of her best O-Zone columns. Nangia’s strength lies in her unabashed middle-class conservatism. Today’s young adults are sexually active she tells us. She mentions the condom but she’s delighted that some parents send bodyguards with their daughters to prevent a ‘backseat canoodle’. Eating at a restaurant, she is taken aback by youngsters downing beers, after all this was no ‘seedy joint’. Matronly and patronizing, Nangia’s insights are more of a commentary on 1980s puppy generation than modern day India she ostensibly writes on.

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Will There Be Donuts?
David Pearl | Harper Collins | Rs 399

In 2011 the author’s agent called some of the most hardened publishing professionals from Harper Collins for a meeting. Pearl wondered, why would they come, it they did at all? Had they seen the manuscript? Did the subject interest them? Were they convinced of its irrefutable logic? Or maybe they liked his prose? “I told them I’d bring donuts,” said his agent. If the donuts are the most interesting thing about your meetings, if it’s the first thing that pops into your head when being asked to attend a conference, a seminar or a presentation, this book is for you.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 26 August 2012)

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The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty
Dan Ariely | Harper Collins | Rs 399

Most people cheat. Ask insurance companies. When people are faced with loss of property due to robbery many exaggerate their loss by 10 to 15 per cent: A 32-inch TV becomes 40-inches and an 18k necklace becomes 22k. You are visiting your dentist. He tells you that you have a miniscule crack in tooth enamel. He can repair it with the state-of-the art machine he’s just bought. You agree to it. A few months later you have to have your tooth out. But the fact of the matter is, there was no need to treat the tooth fissure in the first place. Would you fault the dentist? Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, provides the answers as to why we act the way we do and what we can do to avoid it.

(The above review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 25 August 2012)

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