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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’


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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Intermission
Nirupama Subramanian | Harper Collins | Rs 250

There was a time when Indians working in the US did not dream of returning home. That is not true anymore. At least not of the engineers and techies that are returning in droves and setting up shop in Bangalore and Gurgaon. Why this shift? Subramanian offers no insights. Instead she uses both these places as a backdrop to spin a story on an extra marital affair between a CEO of a start-up company and a Punjabi beauty. Life is so difficult, she moans, when her maid runs away with a driver. If only the garbage, the poverty, the potholes and the pigs would disappear…

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The Columbus Affair
Steve Berry | Hodder | Rs 395

“For 500 years historians have pondered the question: Who was Christopher Columbus? The answer is simply another question: Who do you want him to be?” This is how Steve Berry, the bestselling author of The Jefferson Key, introduces us to his version of Columbus. Combining legends, facts and creative fiction, Berry takes the reader on a thrilling adventure that spans Europe, America, Jamaica and South America to reconstruct the story of the Spaniard that has captured the imagination of several generations of conspiracy theorists. You may buy his story, or you may not. The thrill is in how you read it.

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Sachin: A Hundred Hundreds Now
V Krishnaswamy | Harper Sport | Rs 250

On 16 March 2012 at Mirpur in Dhaka (Bangladesh) after opening the innings for India, Sachin nudged the ball to behind the square leg in the 44th over to cross the final barrier: a hundred centuries in international cricket. In this account of the master batsman’s incredible journey, sportswriter V Krishnaswamy takes us through every hundred, every peak scaled on Sachin’s way to the top.  Along the way he also looks at two other sportsmen, Viswanathan Anand and Leander Paes, to understand the sporting world in which Sachin flourished. The book includes introduction by Rahul Dravid and Sachin’s coach Ramakant Achrekar.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 17 June 2012)

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Boomerang
Michael Lewis| Allen Lane| 213 pp, Rs 599

In Boomerang, American writer and journalist, Michael Lewis travels to – Iceland, Greece, Ireland and Germany to understand what caused the European financial crises and comes up with some startling observations. In his telling of the story, the Icelanders are alpha male risk takers, Greeks corrupt and mistrustful, the Irish overzealous and the Germans double faced. And all that adds up to current Euro fiasco. According to Lewis, Iceland turned itself into a banking hub by recycling world’s money – taking short-term loans from foreign entities and relending it to themselves to buy assets – like Indian power plants or Danish newspapers – creating false prosperity and living off money they did not own. In Greece the banks did not sink the country, it was the mammoth money guzzling government infrastructure that sank the banks. The Irish borrowed money from foreign banks and invested it in Ireland pledging to pay back what they couldn’t.

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The Unlucky Lottery
Hakan Nesser| Mantle, Pan Macmillan| 437 pp, £ 12.99

This is the sixth book in the Van Veeteren series penned by one of Sweden’s most popular crime writers, Haken Nasser. First published in 1998 as Munster’s Fall, this book retires Veeteren and introduces a new detective, Inspector Munster. The action takes place in Maardam, a fictitious small coastal town in Sweden. In it four Swedish pensioners find out one day that they have won 20,000 kroner in a lottery. They gather to celebrate. Soon afterwards one is stabbed to death with a carving knife and another disappears. To unravel the mystery, Inspector Munster, must interact with a psychotic family that hides a hideous secret. Is it all make believe or did it really happen? It’s a Scandinavian roller coaster and with enough loops and twists to keep you between the pages.

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The Lady of the Rivers
Philippa Gregory| Simon & Schuster| 502 pp, Rs 499

This one is for the teenage history buffs. The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of Jacquetta Woodvile and her daughter, Elizabeth who ended up marrying England’s king, Edward IV in a secret ceremony. Jacquetta married the Duke of Bradford, an ambitious man thrice her age and shortly lived as the first lady of English ruled France. Her second marriage was to Sir Richard Woodvile. During this time, she served Margeret of Anjou through the ‘War of the Roses’, a particularly turbulent period in the Anglo-French relations. Phillippa Gregory reconstructs the events of the 15th century to weave an intriguing tale of life, love and survival. It’s a mystery, she says, why Jacquetta has been ignored by historians, when she appears to have played an important and sometimes decisive role in the events that shaped Anglo-French affairs in the middle ages.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 30 October 2011)

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