Archive for the ‘Good Read’ Category

The Outsiders
Gerald Seymour | Hodder | Rs 350

Reporter-turned thriller writer, Seymour does not keep political autobiographies at home. “They seem to me to be self-justifying, weak on facts and often an ego trip trying to recall the days when the black car was at the front gate,” he says. What does he read? He says no one can beat Charles Dickens’ opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In this book a M15 agent chases a Russian gangster across continents while trying to crack a multi-billion dollar world of international organised crime. There is action, suspense and two innocent lovers caught in the middle of a bust. A Seymour, vintage.

(The above review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, 8 September 2012)

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Owning Our Future
Marjorie Kelly | Collins Buisness | Rs 350

Most of the great political struggles can be reduced to simple question: who will own land, water and other essentials of living – and to what end? Both capitalism and socialism/communism support concentration of the power of ownership in the hands of an oligarchy. Marjorie introduces us to a mixed-ownership pattern as a way to the future.  She calls it ‘generative ownership’. This ownership is mostly private, but its purpose is to serve public good. To support her argument she provides examples of various ‘generative’ initiatives across the world, from community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts to foundation-owned pharma company in Denmark and a farmer-owned dairy in Wisconsin. Read to find out what makes these models work.

(The above review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 1 September 2012)

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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.


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.


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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The Kiss of Death
Jeffery Deaver | Hodder & Stoughton | Rs 695

In this ticking-clock thriller, Deaver looks at what it means to be a female celebrity singer being pursued by a stalker who believes that every song the singer has sung has been specially written for him. The price of fame in the modern world of invasive TV coverage and multimedia is much more than in the years Beatles came to India. In 1960s they could have stayed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Rishikesh ashram, today that is unimaginable. The price of fame in Deaver’s book comes with dead bodies, social media, the internet and a smart ass detective, Kathryn Dance. Deaver is an author of 29 novels, his latest is a James Bond novel, Carte Blanche published in May 2011.

(The above review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 18 August 2012)

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Rabbit Rap
Musharraf Ali Farooqi & Michelle Farooqi | Penguin Viking | Rs 499

Readers of promoted fiction, identify Farooqi as the author of the recently released Between Clay and Dust, but few know that the author has many other books to his credit, including a masterful translation of 19th century fable The Adventures of Amir Hamza that appeared in 2007. The New York Times hailed it as a challenge to Homer. In India the book sank without a trace. Farooqi’s latest, Rabbit Rap is a satirical fable that explores the issues facing the developing world as it comes to terms with genetic engineering, corporate social responsibility and the political and social climate in which it thrives. It’s a gem of a book. Read it.

(This review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, dated 11 August 2012)

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Sam Bourne | Harper | Rs 325

It may make you shudder or may not. It is no secret for e.g., that India’s caste and jati system is geared towards perpetuating ‘pure races’. In 1940s Europe and America, the idea found its support not only among Nazis who spoke of the Aryan race but also among the progressive intellectual elite that included George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, John Maynard Keynes and Virginia Woolf. As Shaw wrote, “the only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialisation of the selective breeding of man.” Bourne takes this fact and spins a propelling thriller that questions the moral decrepitude of one of the “greatest secrets of Anglo-American elite.”

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