Book Reviews : Non - Fiction
Topic started by Sridhar (@ dialup-225-66.bol.net.in) on Tue Oct 2 04:16:47 .
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Let us discuss only Non-Fiction books.
- From: Sridhar (@ dialup-225-66.bol.net.in)
on: Tue Oct 2 04:18:03
Dominique Lapierre's latest master piece " It was five past midnight in Bhopal " deals with the bhopal gas tragedy.The co-author is Javier Moro who is Dominique's nephew.The brilliance of Dominique Lapierre when he deals with a subject is his meticulous research,in-depth analysis and a vivid writing style.In this case the authors deal with the characters,the social and cultural context,a specialist field and makes each of them accessible and highly readable.
It's ironical that the pesticide plant that was built by Union Carbide to provide assistance to the indian farmers to combat predatory insects ended up killing thousands of people.Since time immemorial,farmers have been under the attack of predatory insects that gobbled up half of the production of nutritional resources.Here the authors description of various insects and their method of destruction in fantastic :
" There are insects that suck like indian aphids.Others cruch,devour,lick,ravage,pillage or bite.Some grind up vegetation with their mandibles,some suck it dry with long proboscis,others lick it before sucking through a sheath encircling their tongue,yet others stab it with a dagger,then pump out the sap.Some nibble at leaves,gnaw them into crenallated shapes,scour them right down or punture them.Others invade and spread through the leaves.Bettles jump from stem to stem and yellow stem borers haul themselves as tortoises.Rice whorl maggots with their cylindrical bodies,pink semiloopers,biting spring beetles,legless tipula attack cereals world over.'Pyralis' dig tunnels in the ears until they topple over.Weevils have gobbled up more rice,corn and potatoes than humankind to consume since first agriculture began. "
The authors then trace the response of the chemical industry.The industry invested huge amount of money to combat these insects.DDT which gave it's discoverer the nobel prize was after some time considered illegal.This led to the discovery of 'sevin' by Union Carbide which contained 'Methyl Iso Cynate" or MIC that emitted hydrogen cyanide when exposed.The plant which was under extraordinary protection in the first world build it's subsidiary at Bhopal.Worse the govt and inhabitants didn't know about the nature of these chemicals and the response to it during an emergency !
But the most brilliant part of the book is the description of events that led to the leakage on that fateful night.It reminded me of the film "Titanic".On that day bhopal was in festive mood as thousands had gathered from nearby towns and villages.The Gorakhpur express entered the bhopal station at the time of the leakage before it ran over four people who tried to stop it in vain.The narrative here could have been easily taken from a thriller novel had it had not been for real.
Thousands died and still many are affected by chronic diseases.Stories of some bhopalis affected by this incident is heart-breaking.In situations like these heroes come out from nowhere.And there were many.One remarkable person is Rajkumar Keswani.He was a correspondent of a local bhopal daily that circulated only 6000 copies.He predicted the disaster but no one listened.After the tragedy,Rajkumar Keswani was awarded india's most prestigious " PTI Award for excellence" for journalism !!
Unfortunately the book has it's drawbacks.Some passages are word to word reproduction of dominique's earlier book " The City of Joy".
- From: Sridhar (@ dialup-225-66.bol.net.in)
on: Tue Oct 2 04:20:53
Anita Pratap's "Island Of Blood " is her recollection of her experiences when she reported from various flash points in South Asia for both Print (India Today,Sunday,Indian Express) and Television (CNN).
Her book is simply astounding in it's analysis of the Sri Lankan crisis and the story of her professional journalistic experience there with the politicians and the LTTE chief.She spent six days in the jungles of vavuniya when there was a heavy fighting between the IPKF and LTTE.The 1987 accord,JVP insurrection,the tamil tigers,the srilankan govt's brutal response are dealt very well.Some graphic description of the events of the 1983 anti-tamil riots are unbelievable.Any way this book has revived intrest in me of the the srilankan crisis and to look at it from a completely different perspective.
She then writes about the Taliban takeover in 1996.Here a much more detailed history of afghanistan would have helped.The Mazar-e-Sharif controlled by Dostum is called by it's inhabitants as balkhstan.And when Anita Pratap showed her afghan visa the official asked for balkhsthan visa! .Nothing satisfied the official until Anita sang Raj kapoor's popular song "Mera joota hai Japani" .
Latur earth quake,bangladesh cyclone,Ayodhya are also mentioned.But then the book turns to Anita Prata's interviews with film actresses.Silk Smitha and Shobha's suicide are mentioned ! The cover says reports from flashpoints but the narrative drifts to Anita Pratap's personal encounters with actresses,Exploited children, women suffering from in-laws,Life of widows in Vrindavan.Then only at the last chapter it deals with the subject.I think this could have been avoided.
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on: Thu Jul 25 07:45:34
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