Books Discussion Thread

General nukkad-style discussions.
This forum is lightly moderated, and members are expected to moderate themselves.
jamwal
BGR Member
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:31 pm
Contact:

Books Discussion Thread

Post by jamwal » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:46 am

This thread is meant for discussing books relevant to India. Reviews, excerpts, opinions etc are welcome as long as they don't break any copyright laws.

jamwal
BGR Member
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by jamwal » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:20 pm

Image


Everyone is talking about it, so here is my opinion about India's Most Fearless.
I had pre-ordered it, received it next day after it's release and finished it in two sittings. Although it is interesting enough to do it one.

Lots of very interesting information and teary eyes.

First chapter details lots of juicy political and military details about the information. Some of it was made available by authors via excerpts.

Then there is a chapter about Havildar Hangpan Dada. A short video was made about him a few months back https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDVtInQme2g

There are stories of some incredibly cool and brave pilots. one flying a Mig-29 and another Mi-17 carrying some VVIPs.

Some counter terrorism operation stories are worth the read for the level of detail involved in these operations which most people don't know.

Story of Lance Naik H Koppad actually made me realise why he was really a hero, more than just a survivor.


This is an excellent book for personal collection as well as gifts to younglings.

arshyam
BGR Member
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 5:15 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by arshyam » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:34 pm

I read the same book this week, and fully second jamwal saar's review. Definitely worth a read.

KJo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 283
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:36 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by KJo » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:42 pm

Has anyone read Shashi Tharoor's book?

https://www.amazon.com/Era-Darkness-Bri ... 938306465X

Image

Mort Walker
BGR Member
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:14 pm
Location: The Rings Around Uranus

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Mort Walker » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:40 pm

KJo wrote:Has anyone read Shashi Tharoor's book?

https://www.amazon.com/Era-Darkness-Bri ... 938306465X

Image
I’ve recently got it and have read bits of it. Overall it is well organized and written. The material is certainly in other books, but scattered and other authors have not organized it like a history book. A non-Indian can pick it up and go through it easily and follow through without issue. Tharoor deserves high credit for this book as he discusses it dispassionately and is really asking the Brits to acknowledge what they did with colonization.

I highly recommend it along with Rajiv Malhotra’s “Breaking India” for all Indian high school students as required reading. I am trying to get my kids to read both books.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Raja
Forum Moderator
Posts: 152
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:16 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Raja » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:46 pm

X-post from IA thread

Guys, I don't know if you have read Rachna Bisht Rawat's books but she writes with a great sense of humour and pride for our armed forces. She is married to a serving Indian Army officer too. A refreshing change from the usual Shobhaa De & Arundhoti Roy type trash most English language authors churn out in India today.

Her books on Amazon:
Shoot, Dive, Fly: Stories of Grit and Adventure from The Indian Army

The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories

1965 Stories From the Second Indo-Pakistan War

Some of her other articles which reminds me of Brigadier Raychowdhury's writings on the BRF & Rum, Bum and Mouthorgan forum:
Down Dzuko valley, with a Naga headhunter

Hey! You're married to the Army now

Kabir
BGR Member
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:13 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Kabir » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:49 pm

I finished Vanamali's 'Complete life of Krishna' and Ray's 'Yajnaseni'. Both award winning novels and look at the Mahabharat era from different character viewpoints. Yajnaseni is a must read for every man to understand the true power and sacrifice a woman is capable of. My respect for Draupadi grew immensely after knowing about the details.

Vayutuvan
BGR Newbie
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:59 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Vayutuvan » Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:51 am

Here is a link to one of the books recommended by Kabir ji.

Yajnaseni

Vayutuvan
BGR Newbie
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:59 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Vayutuvan » Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:05 am

What do you people of think of Sharat Komarraju? Does anybody recommend his books?

srikumar
BGR Member
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:38 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by srikumar » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:05 am

Recently bought and read the 'India's Most Fearless' by Aroor and Rahul Singh.
Two main stories are the raids/strikes into Pakistan and Burma. Plus many other stories where the Army goes after the terrorists in Kashmir. In the Burma operation, they walked about 40 km, of which 30 km was within India. They had to deploy far away from border so as to not raise the alarm. THe terrorist camps (in both POK and in Burma) has this interesting tactic of firing randomly at night, in an effort to trigger a reaction from any soldiers stalking their camps. The exfiltration in the Pakistan operation was touch-and-go with them receiving fire, and could have experienced causalities. Burma exfiltration was safer. POK strikes operation was really complex....it is hard to believe but the commandos, after reaching the camp late night, stayed there hidden for the next day under a rock waiting for night to fall. :shock:

The military ops in Kashmir against the terrorists sound so routine when read in news article. It is anything but that....just searching/hunting for terrorists upon a sighting or informant's report in the cold mountains, trudging in deep snow, day and night gives a new appreciation for the tough conditions they serve in. It drives home the fact that even in an operation with no shooting action at the end e.g. if the terrorist is not spotted after a week-long search, is a huge drain on a soldier, physically and mentally. A non-story like this where a terrorist is not found would not even make the newspaper.

THe only nitpick I have of the book is the language used in some places...it reads like an Alistair MacLean story which deals exclusively about fictional characters. It had the effect of reducing these real-life soldiers into MacLeanish cartoon charaters. This was in some places, and not in most of the book.

manish_singh
BGR Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:12 pm
Location: Haridwar

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by manish_singh » Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:26 pm

Hi,

Are there any good books that cover the history of revolutionary movement in India's independence? From Aurobindo to Subhash Chandra Bose?

Thanks.

krishGo
BGR Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:01 pm
Location: Bengaluru

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by krishGo » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:50 am

Currently reading 'Sapiens' by Yuval Noah Harari. While, parts of the book is interesting, it offers a outdated & generally negative view on prehistoric India.

* The author specifically points at the origin of the caste system as being the "Aryan Invasion". I am surprised that this theory still has so much of momentum in the literary circles, even though it has been proved that there is no scientific backing for it.
* The book hardly mentions the Sindu-Gangetic civilization, which is one among the 4 oldest civilisations on earth. Way too much attention is given to the Jordan river valley area.
* The saving grace is that, the author mentions that Hindu Arabic numerals are actually Hindu numerals (all including zero). But again goes on to misinform the readers that operations on numbers like addition were first done by the Arabs.

I think we need a concerted effort by the state to change this narrative of "Aryan invasion". As the author himself doesn't come from India (he's a Yehudi from the promised land), he has his own set of biases & limited understanding of Indian history. But, its surprising that he included these parts in his book without any updated background research.

nishanth
BGR Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:21 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by nishanth » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:07 pm

Hi ,

Can anyone please suggest a book about lessons learned by Indian military from the first gulf war.

Thanks

Sachin
BGR Oldie
Posts: 580
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:25 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Sachin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:32 am

The Sign Of a Tiger
A book on the Indian Legion raised by Germany during WW2. Authored by a German who worked as a translator.
https://g.co/kgs/9rHyMj

The book is quite frank about the challenges which Germany faced in the raising of Indian legion (mainly using POWs captured by Italians and Germans during WW2). From reading the book what I could figure out was that such kind of partisan Army would never succeed.

The author admits that none of the Sr. NCOs or VCOs from the Indian POWs actually jumped ships and joined this legion. Which meant that the Germans got only junior ranks and making them into a fighting cohesive force was a challenge. Subash Bose introduced another requirement. The POWs who joined the Germans would NOT retain their British ranks and have to start picking ranks from ground up. This also was a reason for none of the Sr.NCOs and VCOs joining. They preferred to remain as POWs.

The author also mentions that indiscipline (including protest sit-ins, refuse to fall in on parade and disobedience) was quite rife in this unit. German NCOs just could not tolerate this for long and gave up. On Subhash Bose's insistence all soldiers were generally clubbed into Companies. The British who knew the caste & community bondings of the soldiers actually grouped the companies accordingly. Subhash Bose wanted a kind of "All region All class" companies. This led to problems in preparing food and even how the animals get slaughtered.

The Germans as the war progressed realised that the Indian legion may not be able to be of good use in any of the German war theatres. Initial plans was to deploy them in areas like Afghanistan, but as the war progressed Germans were never going that way at all. German generals were also quite prompt in advising Bose that his plan may have better use to the Japanese. Subash Bose (using an Italian alias) then makes a dangeorus journey by a German U Boat all the way to the Japanese held areas.

To be honest, I came out with a feeling that such kind of mercenary armies of Indians would never have been able to actually take India by force and then get her Independence. Subash Bose' intentions may have been noble, but it did not sound like a very practical plan. Germany's attempt to use Indian POWs was not a success, and the Japanese was actually using INA etc for their on ulterior benefits.

Kabir
BGR Member
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:13 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Kabir » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:41 am

Plan to buy Bibek Debroy's Ramayan Series on the upcoming Des trip. Heard rave reviews about it and given that its compiled after researching 200+ Ramayans sounds interesting. Good ratings on book sites.

Primus
BGR Member
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:20 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Primus » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:40 pm

^ How's his Mahabharat? Good reviews overall on Amazon.

Anybody read Ramesh Menon's series on the Mahabharat and the Puranas? I am seeing mixed reviews on Amazon, some claiming he's made the Shiv Puran into a very sexual and almost pornographic story.

Been looking for a really good Mahabharat, have several versions, including the original Kesari Mohan Ganguli's four volume magnum opus, but it is a very tedious read. The others are either too short and abridged or not well written.

I have the Swami Prabhupada version of the Bhagvad Gita and it is the best published work I've seen, with beautiful and glossy pages, the artwork is stunning.

Kabir
BGR Member
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:13 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Kabir » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:53 am

:-) finding a good mahabharat is like finding a good restaurant in Delhi. There is so much of a mix bag available just due to so many great characters and story lines, each author also has a personal bias or interpretation. C rajagopalachari's is quite popular and universally acceptable due to its simplicity, and its stood the test of time. For the Shiv puran and Krishna stories any element of sleaze included just goes to show the author has not risen above genitals, such reads are better left ignored.

Primus
BGR Member
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:20 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Primus » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:23 pm

Kabir wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:53 am
:-) finding a good mahabharat is like finding a good restaurant in Delhi. There is so much of a mix bag available just due to so many great characters and story lines, each author also has a personal bias or interpretation. C rajagopalachari's is quite popular and universally acceptable due to its simplicity, and its stood the test of time. For the Shiv puran and Krishna stories any element of sleaze included just goes to show the author has not risen above genitals, such reads are better left ignored.

So true!

The first Mahabharat I read was indeed CR's book, I was a teenager and found it fascinating. Then I read the big two-volume Hindi version that had hand-drawn illustrations in B&W. It was very absorbing and I loved it, but the budding anglophile in me ridiculed the magical tales as 'impossible'. Viewing it all through the lens of scientific scrutiny, I failed to see the allegorical and spiritual nature of the stories. Since then I have longed to read a really good English version that is true to the original and yet tells the story in a manner that does justice to the huge wealth of literary and spiritual values within.

During my life I've read most of the great works of the Western world - from Shakespeare to Dickens to Homer and they are but pale comparisons to the great Indian Epic. There is just nothing else in the world like it.

Kabir
BGR Member
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:13 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Kabir » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:42 am

Its nice to read character versions of Mahabharat as well like Yajnaseni (Pratibha Ray), Krishn (Vanamali), Pandavs, Karna (Mrityunjai), Bhishma etc. Each of them an epic in itself. Yajnaseni (Life of Draupadi) is a must read for Indian men more than the women.

Primus
BGR Member
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:20 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Primus » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:18 pm

Kabir wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:42 am
Its nice to read character versions of Mahabharat as well like Yajnaseni (Pratibha Ray), Krishn (Vanamali), Pandavs, Karna (Mrityunjai), Bhishma etc. Each of them an epic in itself. Yajnaseni (Life of Draupadi) is a must read for Indian men more than the women.
I looked at the book descriptions and reviews on Amazon. So far only about Draupadi, checked the others that some reviewers recommended.

My problem is that I am more of a purist, thus, 'interpretations' do not work for me. The story needs to be authentic, and sourced from the original Kesari Mohan Ganguli or similar texts. Yes, the language of course is the key in most of these, but since for me these are spiritual books, the author cannot play with the actual facts. While I agree and I heartily admit these are all works of fiction originally, there needs to be a certain authenticity in the version and vision of the writer, at least keeping it as true to the 'original' as possible.

Reading the reviews, it appears that many of the writers have taken their own liberties with the characters and the accounts of their actions. This creates a separate identity and image of the people we have come to identify with in certain ways. While your interpretation may be different from mine, if that creates a completely different persona then we have a problem.

I am not saying one version would be better than another, it is simply a matter of taste and liking.

Years ago, I had come across Ashok Banker's books on the Indian epics. He told the tales in an SF&F style, with made-up anecdotes and weird endings. However, this was very popular and he became very successful. For me this is a no-go, as I find it hard to accept somebody making our entire itihaas into a science-fiction tale, even if I personally do not believe Rama or Krishna ever existed. We can have a long debate on this, it is simply a matter of acceptance. For me, it does not work, hence any 'embellishments' to a tale that is broadly so familiar to most of us are unacceptable to me.

I will check out Bibek Debroy's version of the Mahabharata, it sounds very close to the original.

While it is OK for the West to call the Indian epics mythology, they are not too happy if you call the Bible or Koran a myth. That is the problem for me.

Shakuni
BGR Newbie
Posts: 75
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:30 pm
Location: New York

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Shakuni » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:17 pm

Kabir wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:41 am
Plan to buy Bibek Debroy's Ramayan Series on the upcoming Des trip. Heard rave reviews about it and given that its compiled after researching 200+ Ramayans sounds interesting. Good ratings on book sites.
I have his version, and they are quite good. But more importantly, he is a public intellectual very much into preserving Sanskrit, and is not an SJW. That alone is enough to ensure I will buy anything put out there by him.

Vayutuvan
BGR Newbie
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:59 pm

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Vayutuvan » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:45 pm

Primus wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:18 pm
My problem is that I am more of a purist, thus, 'interpretations' do not work for me. The story needs to be authentic, and sourced from the original Kesari Mohan Ganguli or similar texts.
saar, in that case, kisaari mOhan gangooly is also no-go. May be BORI critical edition by Sukhtankar and Karmarkar is the one you need to study, even if it takes years of tapasya. I don't have the resources to do that right now. I might attempt after a few years from now. One never knows what kind of curve balls life/universe/karme is going to throw at you.

PS: I agree with other parts of your post (not that I disagree with even this part. kisaari mOhan ganooly's version is quite good but tedious, due to the medium, i.e. English. This derivative of Proto Indian (vedic and pre-vedic samskrutamu) language is ill-suited to bring out the beauty of the mahaa kaavya.

Kabir
BGR Member
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:13 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Kabir » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:13 am

I can understand the purist desire and where it comes from. The fact remains that all later versions are lost in translation especially into English language. There are many words in Sanskrit and other Indian languages that simply do not have a counterpart in English or other simpler translations. Most of Sanatan works, shastras and our epics have 'shabds' which are not merely pronunciations or words, but these have been derived from eternal sounds and mantras, to which English language can never do justice (such spiritual thought simply doesn't exist outside India and hence didn't reflect in the international languages). This is where the British and other colonizers failed to understand our works despite living for centuries here. The British had by far the most scholarly attitude of all the invaders, yet Indian scriptures is something that was beyond them to this day. If you know Sanskrit or Avadhi or old Marathi and can enjoy the nectar of originals works like Ramayan, Geeta, Tulsidas' RCM, Dnyaneshwari, Atmanubhav or even simple Kabir dohas, count yourself blessed :-)

Primus
BGR Member
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:20 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Primus » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:17 pm

Shakuni wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:17 pm
But more importantly, he is a public intellectual very much into preserving Sanskrit, and is not an SJW. That alone is enough to ensure I will buy anything put out there by him.
That is good enough for me. Will get it.

Primus
BGR Member
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:20 am

Re: Books Discussion Thread

Post by Primus » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:20 pm

Vayutuvan wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:45 pm
Primus wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:18 pm
My problem is that I am more of a purist, thus, 'interpretations' do not work for me. The story needs to be authentic, and sourced from the original Kesari Mohan Ganguli or similar texts.
saar, in that case, kisaari mOhan gangooly is also no-go. May be BORI critical edition by Sukhtankar and Karmarkar is the one you need to study, even if it takes years of tapasya. I don't have the resources to do that right now. I might attempt after a few years from now. One never knows what kind of curve balls life/universe/karme is going to throw at you.

PS: I agree with other parts of your post (not that I disagree with even this part. kisaari mOhan ganooly's version is quite good but tedious, due to the medium, i.e. English. This derivative of Proto Indian (vedic and pre-vedic samskrutamu) language is ill-suited to bring out the beauty of the mahaa kaavya.
I have no knowledge of Sanskrit so cannot read anything original. KMG's version is the best (read longest) version of the Mahabharata in English that I could find, hence bought that years ago. Spent several weeks trying to read it but could not finish the first volume, it is too literal and too tedious. Perhaps when I retire and have nothing else to do I will spend some more time on it.

Post Reply