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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’


Making News, Breaking News, Her Own Way
Ed. by Latika Padgaonkar & Shubha Singh | Tranquebar |Rs 250

In the 1980s, “Newspaper owners, all male, hired editors, all male, who in turn hired other males to cover politics, the economy and foreign affairs,” writes Shahnaz Anklesaria Aiyar in this collection of essays that highlights the lonely road women reporters took to break the mould. Men those days “… hustled in and out of power structures like the North and South Block, defence and foreign affairs ministries …leaving vast areas affecting human condition to be covered by women.” It’s been four decades since and some things still remain the same. But there has been change too, as the essays in this book attest.

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Delhi OMG
Vinod Nair | Om Books International | Rs 195

Over the last decade there has been a perceptible change in the way Indian writers are looking at India and her mores. Interestingly, many of them do so after a brief stint in the West. Suddenly, all that they grew up with becomes offensive and worthy of disdain. Nair, who trains his guns at Delhi, is one of them. The city of Delhi, he informs us, has pavements that are used by hawkers not people; has women journalists that are no better than prostitutes of GB road; and, has cinema halls that screen blue films in the morning shows. Need one say, anything more?

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Over the Rainbow
Paul Pickering | Simon & Schuster| Rs 450

Over the Rainbow is an unusual story about love and conflict that takes a leaf from the famous medieval tales of Amir Hamza. On the face of it, the story of love is told through its two protagonists, an Irish American pilot, Malone and a female Pakistani ISI agent, Fatima Hamza and the conflict is served up by war-ravaged Afghanistan, yet beyond it is a tale that’s much older, more poignant than anything that the West has known. In its pages you’ll encounter the Taliban, the American and German soldiers, war and brutality, as well as poppy farmers, Djins, devas and yes, good and bad witches.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 29 April 2012)

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A Step Away From Paradise
Thomas K Shor| Penguin Ananda| Rs 399

“Imagine what would happen if Lewis Carrol had proclaimed the reality of Alice’s Wonderland and launched an expedition? Surely he would have been thought to be mad as a hatter. The line separating fact from fiction is tightly drawn  – as tightly as that which separates sane from insane,” says Shor while reconstructing the tale of a Tibetan mystic, Tulshuk Lingpa who in the 1950s set out to search for the Hidden Land. It’s not Shambhala that he seeks, but a place hidden in fold of the Himalayas – a valley of ‘refuge’ – beyond the reach of Red Chinese army or industrialist’s military might. Shor tells the captivating tale with wry humour, compassion and historical insight.

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Zero Day
David Baldacci| Pan Books| Rs 350

This is Baldacci’s 22nd thriller. Unlike his earlier fare, that featured renegade rebels – the character of Oliver Stone being the most popular – this book features a new protagonist – a star and stripes patriot – John Puller. “A lot of people will recognize his last name from Chesty Puller, the most decorated marine in US history,” says Baldacci. The plot is predictable, a CID officer, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is sent to a small coal town in West Virginia to investigate a quadruple murder. Bodies pile up, as does the mystery. Baldacci’s modern day Rambo solves it like Holmes.

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18 Minutes
Peter Bregman| Orion Books| Rs 399

When they started out neither Larry Page nor Sergei Brin knew where to start. Yet in a few years they built the best internet search engine in the world. “This is because they were focused yet flexible,” says Bregman who earns his living by dispensing team building and team leadership advice to CEOs. Can you replicate their success? Bregman thinks you can. All you need to do so is to choose five things to focus on in a year and translate it into an executable 18-minute daily plan. “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed,” says Bregman. Do you agree? If you do, you might want to buy this book.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, 12 February 2012)

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No Rest for the Dead
Ed by Andrew F Gulli & Lamia Gulli |Simon & Schuster| Rs 499

This multi-author mystery featuring capital punishment, revenge and alcoholism was put together by the managing editor of The Strand, the legendary British mystery magazine. Inspired in part by past experiments such as The Floating Admiral published by the Detective Club in 1930s, this book took brother-sister duo six years to complete. Gulli, who is friends with many crime authors, initially roped in 12 writers but the result was ‘frustrating’, so he expanded it to 26. He wrote the prologue for it and handed it over to the writers, to pen a chapter each. The list of contributors includes celebrity thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who has written the latest James Bond sequel, Carte Blanche. Available as e-book and audio book on Amazon.

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How to Love Your Body
Yaana Gupta| Penguin| Rs 199

Though dubbed as ‘the next generation diet book’ this slim book shuns all diets. Instead, it advises you to eat wisely and listen to what your body needs. The learning for Yaana came from her modeling career in which she starved and binged in turn. In the book, the pretty Czech reveals that she came from a broken home, started modeling at 15 and aspired to be Christy Turlington. But her modeling career never took off in Europe because of her short height. She made it in Japan and India though. In India she observes, the models were skinny “all bones, no ass, no boobs” and “height did not matter”.
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Himalayan Art
Swati Chopra| Roli Books| Rs 695

This coffee book provides a simple introduction to the art and crafts of the Himalayan region. Stretching from Afghanistan to North East India it is nearly impossible to codify the influences that shaped it. Yet, Chopra attempts to give it a voice by setting aside specifics of art objects and emphasising the dominant religious philosophy and rituals. The vast swathes of Himalayas from Tibet, Ladakh, Sikkim, Lahoul and Spiti, parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan are thus capped as Vajrayana Buddhist; Himachal and Uttranchal as Brahminical Hinduism; Nepal, a melting pot of Hinduism and Buddhism; Afghanistan of Hellenic art; and Kashmir, of Bhakti-Sufi and Shaiva-Tantric practices. Beautiful colour plates make for an interesting flip through.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 1 January 2012)

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