Your reading list for the week

Here is a fresh list of books for a knowledge and fun-filled week ahead. Happy reading!

Published - April 23, 2018 07:23 pm IST

Who We Are and How We Got Here  

By  David Reich

The author of the book, Professor David Reich of Harvard Medical School, is not a disinterested observer of a fast-developing field; he is a participant and, in fact, a driver, of the ancient DNA revolution and it is his and his team’s research that has accomplished much of the reshaping of human history.So this book has the feel of a first-hand account from the trenches that also carries with it a high-level perspective of what is going on where and why. The book devotes an entire chapter to ‘The Collision that formed India’. The “collision” it refers to is what happened between 4000 and 2000 years ago, when the Indus Valley Civilisation collapsed and a new influx of migrants from south-eastern Steppes, where Kazakhstan today is, brought Indo-European languages and the accompanying culture.

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

By Daniel Ellsberg   

While the book makes for a compelling, if horrifying read, on how close to the brink of global annihilation U.S. nuclear war planners brought all of humanity, a great sigh of disappointment must have gone out when readers discovered that the papers that Ellsberg surreptitiously copied out of his “Top Secret safe” at his RAND Corporation office were put in a green garbage bag which was subsequently lost in a trash dump owing to a summer hurricane. The remarkable insights that Ellsberg provides into U.S. nuclear planners’ most secretive war strategies are revealing; yet the most powerful narrative of the book comes from Ellsberg’s own struggle of conscience as he worked within this military apparatus. 

Laid to Rest: The Controversy over Subhas Chandra Bose’s Death  

By Ashis Ray   

The air crash of Taihoku on August 18, 1945, is the Rashomon moment of Asian and Indian political history. What exactly happened when the aircraft carrying Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the tragic hero of India’s freedom struggle, was never really conclusively understood.  Ashis Ray has put an end to speculations around the air crash that probably was the first violent incident that left a permanent mark on the postcolonial history of India. Ray has made a significant observation about the reasons that allowed the persistence of Netaji’s myth in Indian politics.  Apart from the meticulous historical and archival research, Ray’s submission is backed by Anita, the daughter of Netaji.

The Last White Hunter: Reminiscences of a Colonial Shikari

By Donald Anderson with Joshua Mathew  

On no account is a white hunter just a hunter — he is a ‘dorai’ and land-owner, a white man with both rank and privilege. But '  The Last White Hunter'  is more about jungle-knowledge and real peril, giving us a ground view of often dangerous forest life. The book carries the smells and sounds of the forest. Donald speaks of the “2000 year old Dodda Sampige tree” in Biligiriranga hills in Karnataka. Sometimes, his descriptions of forest people are more interesting than the natural history.  As a piece of pure history though, the book will take you to a time when India’s wilderness and life was very different — even if it is traced through the eyes of a “selfish man”.

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