Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 25 Jan 2017 09:00

Europe's Last Chance: Why the European States Must Form a More Perfect Union
by Guy Verhofstadt Hardcover

Europe is caught in its greatest crisis since the Second World War. The catalog of ills seems endless: an economic crisis spread through most of Europe's Mediterranean tier that has crippled Greece and driven a wedge between northern and southern Europe; terrorist attacks in Paris, Cologne, Brussels, and Nice; growing aggression from Russia in Ukraine and the Baltic states; and refugees escaping war-torn neighbors. The European Union's inability to handle any of these disasters was a driving factor in Great Britain voting to leave, and others may soon follow. The result won't just be a continent in turmoil, but also a serious threat to American and British security-the Atlantic, let alone the Channel, simply isn't big enough to keep European troubles in Europe. For everyone's sake, Europe must survive.

The question is how. In Europe's Last Chance, Guy Verhofstadt-former prime minister of Belgium and current leader of the liberal faction in the European Parliament-provides the essential framework for understanding Europe today, laying bare the absurdity of a system in which each member state can veto legislation, opt in or out of the Euro, or close borders on a whim. But Verhofstadt does not just indict the European Union, he also offers a powerful vision for how the continent can change for the better. The key, argues Verhofstadt, is to reform the European Union along the lines of America's federal government: a United States of Europe strong enough to stand with the United States of America in making a better, safer world.

A visionary book from one of today's luminaries of European leadership, Europe's Last Chance is a clarion call to save the European Union, one of the world's greatest chances for peace and prosperity.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby chetak » 25 Jan 2017 11:19

The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization
Author: Asko Parpola
Oxford University Press 2015

Hinduism has two major roots. The more familiar is the religion brought to South Asia in the second millennium BCE by speakers of Aryan or Indo-Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family. Another, more enigmatic, root is the Indus civilization of the third millennium BCE, which left behind exquisitely carved seals and thousands of short inscriptions in a long-forgotten pictographic script. Discovered in the valley of the Indus River in the early 1920s, the Indus civilization had a population estimated at one million people, in more than 1000 settlements, several of which were cities of some 50,000 inhabitants. With an area of nearly a million square kilometers, the Indus civilization was more extensive than the contemporaneous urban cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Yet, after almost a century of excavation and research the Indus civilization remains little understood. How might we decipher the Indus inscriptions? What language did the Indus people speak? What deities did they worship?

Asko Parpola has spent fifty years researching the roots of Hinduism to answer these fundamental questions, which have been debated with increasing animosity since the rise of Hindu nationalist politics in the 1980s. In this pioneering book, he traces the archaeological route of the Indo-Iranian languages from the Aryan homeland north of the Black Sea to Central, West, and South Asia. His new ideas on the formation of the Vedic literature and rites and the great Hindu epics hinge on the profound impact that the invention of the horse-drawn chariot had on Indo-Aryan religion. Parpola's comprehensive assessment of the Indus language and religion is based on all available textual, linguistic and archaeological evidence, including West Asian sources and the Indus script. The results affirm cultural and religious continuity to the present day and, among many other things, shed new light on the prehistory of the key Hindu goddess Durga and her Tantric cult.

Table of contents :

1. Defining “ Hindu” and “Hinduism”
2. The Early Aryans
3. Indo-European Linguistics
4. The Indus Civilization
5. The Indus Religion and the Indus Script

PART I The Early Aryans
6. Proto-Indo-European Homelands
7. Early Indo-Iranians on the Eurasian Steppes
8. The BMAC of Central Asia and the Mitanni of Syria
9. The Rigvedic Indo-Aryans and the Dāsas
10. The Aśvins and Mitra-Varuṇa
11. The Aśvins as Funerary Gods
12. The Atharvaveda and the Vrātyas
13. The Megalithic Culture and the Great Epics

PART II The Indus Civilization
14. The Language of the Indus Civilization
15. Fertility Cults in Folk Religion
16. Astronomy, Time-Reckoning, and Cosmology
17. Dilmun, Magan, and Meluhha
18. Royal Symbols from West Asia
19. The Goddess and the Buffalo
20. Early Iranians and “Left-Hand” Tantrism
21. Religion in the Indus Script

22. Prehistory of Indo-Aryan Language and Religion
23. Harappan Religion in Relation to West and South Asia
24. Retrospect and Prospect

Bibliographical Notes

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Sachin » 29 Mar 2017 11:49

Three persons were huddled together - their final conclave before going down. Men in their death throes, clutching each other!
"Veerappan - Chasing the Brigand" authored by K. Vijayakumar IPS and published by Rupa Publications would be one of those "history books" which can be read like a thriller. The book with its 249 pages takes the reader through the life and times of Veerappan a poacher and smuggler who held sway over the Sathyamangalam forest area for at least a decade or more. The book is written by the man who also played the most important role when it came to ensuring that Veerappan did not live as a menace to the society for long.

The book is divided into 4 parts with the first part giving an overview on the author's life as a police officers and about some training courses which he went through. For Vijayakumar policing ran in his blood as his father V. Krishnan Nair was himself a Police Inspector. The second part is dedicated to the early life of the "hero" of the book, Veerappan. Veerappan was said to have been a good marksman even when he was a boy, with one example being his ability to shoot down monkeys when they jumped from one tree to another.

After reading the second part, any individual would be convinced that Veerappan for all his abilities was an unethical criminal who would do society no good. There are enough and more chapters which explains the cunningness and the "strategic thinking" ability of Veerappan and how he attacked remote police stations, how he lured and trapped police officers etc. The killing of Srinivas a Forest official, Hari Krishna and SI Shakeel Ahamed all are shown as ample proof for Veerappan's ruthlessness. Later it was SI Shakeel Ahamed's father, Dy.SP (Retd.) Abdul Karim who had to fight a case in Supreme Court, when his own state government shamlessly was willing to release lots of prisoners, in exchange for a cine actor held hostage.

"Rambo" Gopalakrishnan a TN Police Dy.SP had came up as a hero figure when he made lots of open statements challenging Veerappan for a fight. The way Veerappan ambushed "Rambo" and injured him for life is also well documented in the book. This ambush led to the loss of life of nearly 20 police men. The man who triggered the blasts, Simon is now lodged at Hindalga prison. He was sentenced to the death, but looks like he did receive lots of support from some expected quarters and got clemency. "Rambo" spent many months in the hospital and did not recover fully. He passed away in the year 2016. Similar was the case of Gopal Hosur a Karnataka Police officer who was ambushed and had a miraculous escape, but spent some good months in the hospital bed.

The third part of the book is about the "Rajkumar kidnapping incident", which was also a turning point in Veerappan's working style. From here one he seems to have come under the influence of lots of terrorist gangs (from Sri Lanka or TN home grown) who kind of used his expertise. After cine actor Raj Kumar was kidnapped, the kind of ransom demands put by Veerappan clearly showed that some of these ideas were not his alone. The book also mentions about the capitulation by Karnataka state government. They were willing to meet every demand of Veerappan including releasing of political prisoners from Karnataka prisons. But Supreme Court played spoil sport. In the book, the author also hints that large amount was also paid as ransom to Veerappan. TN police had found out that too many Rs.500 notes were circulated in villages (where many people would not have seen a couple of Rs.100 notes at the same time) and also about IB intercepting some wireless chatter in the Palk Straight area.

The book does mention about the STF officials from Karnataka side as well, and the maximum accolades are for Shankar Bidari and J.M Mirji. Shankar Bidari was shown as daring and cared two hoots for the state borders when he conducted daring raids after Veerappan's gang. J.M Mirji and the author had an excellent working relationship. How ever some of the actions by the Karnataka STF, especially an incident in which Veerappan's brother Arjunan and two gang members "committed suicide" by consuming cyanide capsules, do not seem to show that force in a positive light. The prisoners were being taken by Karataka Police on a "production warrant" to that state's court. The book also talks about the total unpreparedness of the force at Ramapura P.S. The loan sentry was dozing off, the SI was at his quarters and the D.A.R Van had parked on the road near the station, with all men sleeping inside.

It was the Part 4 of the book which would be of maximum interest to many readers. At this juncture Vijayakumar once again becomes the chief of the TN STF. There is good material on the retraining given to the STF members and the various ploys adopted to trap Veerappan. Once incident mentioned in the book was using "Damani" (Abdul Nasser Mahdani) to get some men into Veerappan's gang. Mahdani did not provide any practical help, but Veerappan did have some men in his group who he believed to have been sent my Mahdani. Later they are all sent back, and the STF received some good intelligence on Veerappan's health condition and attitudes. Another interesting episode is of the Anjaneya squads, small groups of police men in mufti who roamed around the jungle as wood cutters etc, and about the effective usage of the wireless network which totally confused Veerappan. As per the book, the kidnap and subsequent death of H. Nagappa (a Karnataka politician) kind of sealed Veerappan's fate for good. This chapter also has many interesting information on how police used a "Mr.X" a business man who it seems had good social standing and respect, to finally corner Veerappan. The author admits that it was unbelievable that "Mr.X" had such a shady side as well. At the epilogue, Vijayakumar mentions that "Mr.X" is still hale and hearty. With "Mr.X" giving good help, a daring police officer Vellai Durai(who had killed notorious rowdy Ayothyakuppam Veeramani) is brought in, and he has the responsibility to lure out Veerappan out of the forest. And this leads to the final chapters of the book, which talks about how Veerappan & gang are ambushed at a village.

The book is available on Amazon India

PS: Perhaps a bonus would be the astrological chart of Veerappan which has been printed in one of the last pages in the book. For many people with an interest in that field, interpreting the chart would be a good practise session.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svenkat » 29 Mar 2017 19:42

Some one known to me who is from satyamangalam told me that veerappan had done a lot of good for the forest people. Some tamils say KA police harassed innocent tamils. Otoh there are others who say that kannadigas have been harassed by TN police.

The vachati rape was a blot on TN police. One hopes these two branches of the dravidian stem find peace with each other.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svenkat » 29 Mar 2017 20:25

Has Shri vijay kumar said anything about the issues of linguistic minorities in the 'border' regions. Increasingly the regional official language is being used for education, administration and recruitment tests for govt jobs.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svenkat » 29 Mar 2017 20:57

A year or two back I was in mettur dam and I took the road to mm hills through kolathur along the back waters of the dam. Everything was quiet. The usual Indian scene. An old woman was selling food items. I bought something and gave it away. This was not thick forests.

Stopped at the 'border' and talked to the KA forest guard. He spoke very good tamizh and I enquired about the issue. He said they are all part of the past and now everything is normal. Buses, cars, motorcycles ply. I met an elderly reddiar gentleman of these parts going to mm hills on pilgrimage.
I wondered about the role of telugu people in South and how they can and should play a more active role in the unity of southern people. (It's an irony and tragedy they are now occupied in fraternal and casteist strife, after a less than stellar role in justice party politics. )

I hope no one in brf sees me as some pan dravidian activist though one can never be sure given Hindu diversity.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Sachin » 31 Mar 2017 11:41

svenkat wrote:Some tamils say KA police harassed innocent tamils. Otoh there are others who say that kannadigas have been harassed by TN police.

I did not explicitly mention that in my previous post. But the book was not very appreciative of the KA STF at all (barring two officers - Bidari and J.P Mirji). The book even insinuated that Veerappan's first escape from police custody (at Bangalore) was through bribery. Then was the bungling (or deliberate) move of the KA police men which led to the suicide of Veerappan's brothers and two others. If you can read between the lines, you get a feeling that KA police was not upto the mark, lethargic and corrupt.

Has Shri vijay kumar said anything about the issues of linguistic minorities in the 'border' regions. Increasingly the regional official language is being used for education, administration and recruitment tests for govt jobs.

No. Infact the book does not mention any political stuff, nor how life moved on after Veerappan was "encountered".

A year or two back I was in mettur dam and I took the road to mm hills through kolathur along the back waters of the dam. Everything was quiet. The usual Indian scene. An old woman was selling food items.

After reading the book, I really wanted to drive through some of those routes. Jungle Lodges (of KA) it seems had once organised a "Veerappan trail" trek through these forests. Again, my understanding is that the forest here is more of thick shrubbery. The real forests may be in the "Silent Valley" area, where it seems even at peak noon time there are areas where the sun shine would not fall (due to big trees).

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 06 Jun 2017 15:00

Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans Hardcover – June 6, 2017
by James Stavridis

Admiral James Stavridas has written a very good topical history of each of the oceans. His book, entitled Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans, is a big undertaking. Attempting to review the role of each ocean in history and in modern commerce, warfare and political rivalries requires a lot of research and a keen eye for detail. Admiral Stavridas does a good job on the history of each ocean, describing its role in history. He is strongest on the Mediterranean and Atlantic, probably because so much history is known about the Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians and later the Portuguese, Spanish and English. The history portions are far smaller about the Indian, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.

Each chapter deals with the history and place of the ocean in past and current political rivalries, and almost always includes an interlude where Stavridas talks about a time he sailed on these oceans. These insights are sometimes interesting, sometimes mundane and almost always include a joke at the author's expense. It's in current analysis where I was hoping to see more careful thought.

There are clearly deep divides over oceans and waterways such as the Arctic, where vast undersea resources abound and navigation and seal lanes are relatively undefined, and in places like the South China sea, where China is staking out a huge claim that violates the claims of countries such as Viet Nam, Taiwan, the Philippines and others. I would have liked a more careful analysis of these with deeper recommendations about what the US and its partners can and should do now and in the future. After all, vast swathes of the Pacific and South Atlantic are relatively untroubled, along with most of the coastline of the sea around Antarctica. Further, there are enough strong actors in the Med (France, Italy, Greece, Israel, Turkey, etc) to quell most of the problems, except for immigration which wasn't explored enough.

On the whole a fine topical survey of the history and use of the oceans and the role they play in commerce and as strategic lanes to establish power,

Alfred Thayer Mahan's name is one of those essential "must-knows" for historians. Writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Mahan stressed the importance of sea power in the history of nations and called for the United States to build a large navy and a global empire. His books influenced leaders and strategists the world over, including President Theodore Roosevelt. It is no exaggeration to credit Mahan for much of US naval policy in the last century. Admiral James Stavridis studied Mahan at Annapolis and kept his precepts in mind throughout his illustrious 35 year career in the US Navy, culminating as Supreme Allied Commander for Global Operations at NATO. Now retired, his Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans recalls many of Mahan's ideas, but analyzes, refines, and sometimes discards them in the light of 21st century realities.

Stavridis first gives his readers seven chapters in which he analyzes the histories, challenges, and opportunities to be found in each of the world's seven oceans, followed by an eighth in which he analyzes the problems of piracy and other criminal acts on the seas and a ninth (which I found the most interesting of all) focused on US naval strategies for the 21st century. In each chapter Stavridis recounts memories of his own career, which began at age 17 in 1972 when he went to sea after his first year at Annapolis. These memories are frank and often amusing, since Stavridis is secure enough not to mind pointing out his own mistakes. Throughout each chapter Stavridis makes it clear that he believes in free trade, strong international cooperation and alliances, and the necessity of confronting and dealing with the problems of climate change. I found his recommendations in the final chapter to be clear headed and reasonable, and I trust that he has laid them before our political leadership in greater detail.

From one of the most admired admirals of his generation—and the only admiral to serve as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO—comes a remarkable voyage through all of the world’s most important bodies of water, providing the story of naval power as a driver of human history and a crucial element in our current geopolitical path.

From the time of the Greeks and the Persians clashing in the Mediterranean, sea power has determined world power. To an extent that is often underappreciated, it still does. No one understands this better than Admiral Jim Stavridis. In Sea Power, Admiral Stavridis takes us with him on a tour of the world’s oceans from the admiral’s chair, showing us how the geography of the oceans has shaped the destiny of nations, and how naval power has in a real sense made the world we live in today, and will shape the world we live in tomorrow.

Not least, Sea Power is marvelous naval history, giving us fresh insight into great naval engagements from the battles of Salamis and Lepanto through to Trafalgar, the Battle of the Atlantic, and submarine conflicts of the Cold War. It is also a keen-eyed reckoning with the likely sites of our next major naval conflicts, particularly the Arctic Ocean, Eastern Mediterranean, and the South China Sea. Finally, Sea Power steps back to take a holistic view of the plagues to our oceans that are best seen that way, from piracy to pollution.

When most of us look at a globe, we focus on the shape of the of the seven continents. Admiral Stavridis sees the shapes of the seven seas. After reading Sea Power, you will too. Not since Alfred Thayer Mahan’s legendary The Influence of Sea Power upon History have we had such a powerful reckoning with this vital subject.

Admiral James Stavridis, US Navy (Retired)

A South Florida native, Jim Stavridis attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent over thirty five years in the Navy, rising to the rank of 4-star Admiral. Among his many commands were four years as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, and piracy off the coast of Africa. He also commanded US Southern Command in Miami, charged with military operations through Latin America for nearly three years. He was the longest serving Combatant Commander in recent US history.

In the course of his career in the Navy, he served as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense. He led the Navy’s premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

He won the Battenberg Cup for commanding the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet, the Destroyer USS BARRY, and the Navy League John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational leadership as a Commodore. He holds more than 50 US and international medals and decorations, including 28 from foreign nations. He also commanded a Destroyer Squadron and a Carrier Strike Group, both in combat in the Middle East.

He earned a PhD from The Fletcher School at Tufts, winning the Gullion prize as outstanding student in his class in 1983, as well as academic honors from the National and Naval War Colleges as a distinguished student. He speaks Spanish and French.

Jim has published six books on leadership, Latin America, ship handling, and innovation, as well as over a hundred articles in leading journals.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 21 Jun 2017 09:38

Churchill and Orwell by Thomas Ricks,

The New York Times Bestseller.

A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism, from the left and right alike.

Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930's—Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they'd died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly, in words and in deeds, against the totalitarian threat from both the left and the right. In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West's compass set toward freedom as its due north.

It's not easy to recall now how lonely a position both men once occupied. By the late 1930's, democracy was discredited in many circles, and authoritarian rulers were everywhere in the ascent. There were some who decried the scourge of communism, but saw in Hitler and Mussolini "men we could do business with," if not in fact saviors. And there were others who saw the Nazi and fascist threat as malign, but tended to view communism as the path to salvation. Churchill and Orwell, on the other hand, had the foresight to see clearly that the issue was human freedom—that whatever its coloration, a government that denied its people basic freedoms was a totalitarian menace and had to be resisted.

In the end, Churchill and Orwell proved their age's necessary men. The glorious climax of Churchill and Orwell is the work they both did in the decade of the 1940's to triumph over freedom's enemies. And though Churchill played the larger role in the defeat of Hitler and the Axis, Orwell's reckoning with the menace of authoritarian rule in Animal Farm and 1984 would define the stakes of the Cold War for its 50-year course, and continues to give inspiration to fighters for freedom to this day. Taken together, in Thomas E. Ricks's masterful hands, their lives are a beautiful testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it can take to stay true to it, through thick and thin.
"Both subjects, he tells us in this page turner written with great brio, are 'people we still think about, people who are important not just to understanding their times but also to understanding our own.'... what comes across strongly in this highly enjoyable book is the fierce commitment of both Orwell and Churchill to critical thought." — The New York Times Book Review

“An elegantly written celebration of two men who faced an existential crisis to their way of life with moral courage — and demonstrated that an individual can make a difference.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Readers of this book will realize, if they needed reminding, that the struggle to preserve and tell the truth is a very long game.” — Los Angeles Times

“ Churchill & Orwell is an eminently readable, frankly inspirational and exceptionally timely tribute to the two men Simon Schama called 'the architects of their time.' It is to be hoped that their counterparts in intellectual clarity and moral courage are among us today.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Here is a formidable pairing: Winston Churchill and George Orwell, two of the most famous figures of the 20th century, compared and contrasted in a study that has fresh things to say about its subjects… Ricks tracks his subjects without falling into the usual traps. He is neither sanctimonious about Orwell, nor overly reverential when discussing Churchill.” — Newsday

"A feast of a book, laden with observations and insights that enable us to see these familiar figures, and through them our own time, in a fresh and illuminating light." — New Statesman

“Ricks’s gift for storytelling makes this book virtually impossible at times to set down.” — The Christian Science Monitor

“Superbly illustrates that Churchill and Orwell made enduring cases for the necessity of moral and political fortitude in the face of authoritarianism. This is a bracing work for our times.”— Publishers Weekly

“The genius of Ricks’ method is to tell the story of an ongoing struggle through the lives of two extraordinary men.” — Booklist (starred review)

“A superb account of two men who set standards for defending liberal democracy that remain disturbingly out of reach.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred)
About the Author
Thomas E. Ricks is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its "Future of War" project. He was previously a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the prizewinning blog The Best Defense. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, he covered U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of several books, including The Generals, The Gamble, and the number one New York Times bestseller Fiasco, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby rsangram » 22 Jun 2017 23:34

A Perennial Stream Kindle and Print Edition
by Penn Bobby Singh

A very captivating and enlightening book!
ByCara Lwin On Amazon

Format: Paperback/Kindle

A Perennial Stream gives an eloquent history of nine generations of an Indian dynasty. The author's art of storytelling engages the reader, bringing them back in time. Vivid accounts of the family struggles with corruption and injustice clearly portray the strength of the characters in standing up for and following their beliefs.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the story is the evolution of the family from intriguing business ventures to leadership challenges and major civic contributions and involvement over the centuries. The book easily transitions from centuries of history to current problems and issues of present day India. Another inspiring aspect is the author's braving adverse forces to uphold the honor and tradition of his ancestry and dedication to his heritage and family's country.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Star Publish (October 27, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935188399
ISBN-13: 978-1935188391
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches


File Size: 3923 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Star Publish LLC (October 31, 2014)
Publication Date: October 31, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Tuan » 21 Oct 2017 03:31

New Novel Tells Story of Secret Female Mossad Agent - by Shalva Hessel ... sad-agent/


The new novel Married to the Mossad tells the story of Sally, an Israeli living in London, who sees her life change dramatically when she learns that her husband’s lowly embassy job is just a cover — and that he’s actually an agent for the Mossad. When a new mission forces him to go undercover in a Muslim nation, Sally insists on joining him, and is soon thrust into a dangerous world of intrigue.

Author Shalva Hessel didn’t just dream up this plot — she lived it. Just like her protagonist, Hessel accompanied her husband on secret missions for the Mossad, assuming an undercover identity in a Muslim country, facing dangers and living a lie — all for the good of her country.

Below is an excerpt from Married to the Mossad.


She stood with her back to the door and her hands spread out to the sides. “You’re not leaving here.”

“Sally,” he said in a calm voice, charged with hidden tension. “Let me leave.”

“Only after you tell me where you disappear to at night.”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why, Jerry? Who won’t let you?”

“I can’t say that either.”

“You’re playing with me!” Sally’s voice rose to a shout. “If you want to meet other women just say so.”

“It’s not other women,” Jerry said. “It really isn’t.”

They’d been married for a year, and despite her young age, life experience had equipped her with sharp senses. She could tell a fake if she saw one. “What’s going on with you? Why can’t you explain?”

Jerry’s voice was steady and cool. “Give me an hour. I’ll leave and return with someone who’ll explain.”

She knew that no pressure could force him to tell, but still she insisted.

“Why can’t you explain?”

“He’ll explain that too.”

Sally’s eyes were full of rage. “I want to come with you to where he is. Let him explain it there.”

“You can’t,” Jerry explained patiently. “You can’t even know where it is.”

“You’re speaking like a character out cheap suspense novel,” Sally shouted.

A faint smile crossed Jerry’s face. “Do I get an hour?”

Sally could never withstand his smile, and gave up. “One hour,” she succumbed, and moved away from the door. “But not a minute longer!”

Anger and fear made her blood boil. For months, she had been spending her evenings on the couch, purchased on Petticoat Lane with Jerry’s holiday bonus. It was the sole valuable item in their apartment. She had read dozens of books and watched countless TV series, waiting for him to return. Every time she asked him where he’d gone, it would be an urgent meeting at work, seeing a friend, or a lecture at the London School of Economics.

As time passed, his explanations became less convincing and Sally grew more suspicious. She felt that since they had arrived in London, her husband’s life was being run by something unknown and more significant than she; that she was losing control over their fate.

Sally couldn’t stand losing control. In every situation, she was always the leader and the center of attention. She was raised in a National-Religious family of citron farmers in Moshav Hibbat Zion, where she was considered a free spirit. Opinionated and principled, she was a tomboy who enjoyed the company of boys and was always game for a prank. Even at the Technion, where she was the only female computer software programming student, she remained independent and was unafraid to express her opinion at every opportunity. That’s where she met Jerry, and the moment she laid eyes on him, she knew he’d be hers.

Following a short courtship, her beauty and wit worked their charms and they became lovers. Jerry was attracted to her joie de vivre, which complemented his solemnness, and she loved his serious and fastidious nature. She had wholeheartedly hoped that they could wed, but Jerry kept announcing that marriage was out of the question.

“We have no money, I have no interest in children at this point in my life, and besides, I’ll never marry someone who hasn’t served in the army.” Regardless, when he told her he was accepted to LSE, one of the leading economics schools in the world, she knew she would follow him. Her parents objected, of course, but could do nothing to oppose the will of their stubborn daughter ,who informed them that she was traveling to get married.

She landed in London with a thousand pounds and Jerry’s address at the student residence. The following day, he joined her to rent a flat. They found a room with a common kitchen in an old apartment building, and ate a greasy and unappetizing meal at the takeaway shop across the street. The following day, Sally applied to three software engineering schools whose addresses Jerry had found. The tuition of all three was beyond her means. The sum she brought with her from Israel was lower than the tuition and sufficed, at most, for two months of rent, if she ate frugally.

Winter was around the corner, with its high heating costs. Sally met with Jerry every evening and tried to remain optimistic and not worry him, but she was growing increasingly desperate. Her parents sent her five hundred pounds for her birthday, which extended her grace time in London by an extra month. Now, four months separated her from the day when she would have to admit defeat and call home, requesting that her parents pay for the return ticket. Jerry tried to help as best he could, but was also making a pittance working in Israeli advocacy and was barely making ends meet. Their life together now had an expiration date, and their love grew desperate.

One day, Jerry turned up at her apartment with an advertisement he had ripped from the notice board at his residence: “The Pierre Marin Fund offers scholarships to students who pass its tests. Scholarships include school tuition and a stipend.” The following day, Sally arrived at the fund’s offices, filled out the forms, and was told she must take a test.

She tried to inquire about the subject of the test, its length, and the mark required for the scholarship, but to no avail.

A week later, she was invited back to the fund’s office. In a small room, seated next to three others, she answered questions related to Judaism.

She counted her blessings for being exposed at home to religious law and love of Israel, and felt grateful to her family, especially her father and grandfather — a well-known and admired rabbi — for making themselves available to her questions on religious matters. Leaving the room, she knew she had successfully passed the test.

And so it was. Two weeks later, her bank account was credited with a sum of money that sufficed for tuition and living expenses for a month. Additional sums, she was promised in a letter received by mail, would arrive every month until she completed her studies.

Letter in hand, she returned to the fund’s offices.

“Is something wrong?” asked the astonished secretary.

“I came to thank Pierre Marin personally for his help.”

“That’s impossible,” said the secretary.

“Why? Doesn’t he exist?”

“Oh, he exists all right.” She laughed. “He’s a Jewish millionaire who lives in Switzerland. You can leave a letter here, but there’s no chance he’ll answer you.”

Sally jotted down a few warm sentences of thanks on a piece of paper, inserted it into an envelope, and handed it to the secretary. When she stepped out onto the street, she felt the world smiling at her. The mysterious Pierre Marin had gotten her life back on track.

Shalva Hessel (, author of “Married to the Mossad,” was raised on Moshav Hibat-Zion in central Israel. She is a software engineer and has managed information systems for companies around the world. When her husband, who served in a senior role in the Mossad, left on secret missions, she joined him as part of his cover. Today she lives in Tel Aviv and is involved in charitable ventures, as well as business management.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 18 Mar 2018 11:55 ... 94&f=false

"Kashmir's death trap" has this book been mention in BR? The excerpt here relates a gruesome incident in Kupwara on Oct 29/1994, and how the JCO seemed to be careless and/or callous with the lives of jawans under his command. It was hushed in India, whereas if this were American, British, Israeli et al soldiers, their countries and media would make sure that the whole world knows about it.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Karmasura » 09 Jun 2019 07:21

Your body your sytem: Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai

Link :

The book brings a holistic approach to thinking about health, introducing the reader to the science of systems thinking. In the approach of systems thinking, a problem is analyzed by breaking it down to its components and the inter-relatedness of each component is established. The other option to systems thinking is called reductionist thinking, where quick fix solutions are found to existing problems which seemingly addresses an issue in the short term, but leads to other consequences. The author analyzes the western medical system which emerged to address the emergencies of wide scale wars which caused mass injuries and epidemics and thus became reductionist in its thinking. In current times of relative peace, the author sees the western medical system as failing to address issues related to lifestyle disorders, and proposes that systems thinking about health can help address issues emerging from our current lifestyle. He then discusses eastern medical systems such as Siddha and Ayurveda, which focus on nutrition, physical activity, following hobbies, and healthy interpersonal relationships in addition to treatment of the disease and finds them to be remarkably similar to systems thinking. Great translation of Ayurvedic concepts of vatta, pitta, and kapha and looking at them from the systems theory perspective. The book is an excellent introduction to newcomers to eastern medical systems.

The author Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai is currently preparing to contest as an independent senator from Massachusetts, USA and is planning to use eastern medical systems to formulate a new health policy for the USA.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Karmasura » 09 Jun 2019 07:36

Forgotten Roots: Karol Kolbusz


Karol Kolbusz is interested in reviving European Paganism, in doing so he uses several references from Hinduism. Through a small series of essays on various topics of personal values, the book takes a look at our modern lives and shows how it distracts us from our mission in life by making us frenzied about irrelevant goals like too much money, gadgets, exhibitionism, gluttony, and addictions. The book cites pagan literature sources and gives solutions on leading modern lives with as much ancestral elements as possible.

The guy can be followed on instagram at "forgottenrootsx" and his fb page is "Forgotten Roots"

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 03 Nov 2019 00:13

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 04 Nov 2019 21:01

“The Hindu Way” of Shashi Tharoor – Book Review

Argueably, it may not be a thing of everyone’s competence who has a superficial and practical knowledge of this mundane world to write about Hinduism or its ways. Shashi Tharoor certainly falls in this category. One may justifiably say that by writing about the Hindu way, Shashi Tharoor would be writing more about himself and his little knowledge of the subject he is dealing with than about the Hindu way.

‘The Hindu Way’, the new book of Shashi Tharoor, is more or less like a tutology of his previous book, ‘Why I am a Hindu’. It does not shed any new or deeper light on Hinduism. Verily speaking the book disappoints even to a layman. In the first few chapters, one certainly gets the glimpse of almost all the philosophical branches of theistic Shad Darshan and also about atheistic sects like; Charvak, Buddhism and Jainism but in the concluding chapters, he has unfairly fulminated against Hindutva.

Hindu thinks that the other person may be adopting a different method of worship but he or she is also the part of Hinduism. This problem actually came only when the other religions, which have originated outside India and are not so eclectic, started asserting ‘either their way or no way’. But for a person like Tharoor all blames are in store for Hindutva.

In this book, he has taken the liberty to criticise and condemn the Hindus but has not spoken a word about those Christians, who have been engaged in proselytization by adopting all illegal and immoral gimmicks. Similarly, Islam has a history of forcing itself upon Hindus. The writer of the book himself has said that when the marauding army of Tipu Sultan was looting, plundering, raping and killing the Hindu men and women in Kerala, his great grandmother had concealed a good quantity of golden ornaments to an unknown location, which could not be found out later because nobody had any inkling of the place where the gold ornaments were buried.

There is no doubt that while the Christians spread their religion in India by cheating, fraud, deception, chicanery and inducement; the Islam was spread largely by the use of force and fear among the people. Both religions never believed in the coexistence and were always at warpath with other religions. However, Shashi Tharoor has given only those examples which denigrate and denounce Hindus. He has spoken about the demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya but has not uttered a word about those who pulled the temple to erect the Mosque. He has conveniently forgotten the cold-blooded killing of 60 and odd Karsevaks in Godhara but goes on lecturing on the cow vigilantism. It is strange that he is ashamed of the awakening among Hindus but waxes eloquently in favour of such tolerance of Hindus, which bordered on to the timidity and cowardice.

In the last parts of the book, he has betrayed himself to be a pseudo-secular politician. Being the Member of Parliament from the Congress party for two times from Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala, he has not spoken a word about the killings of Hindus in his own state but has jumped and trained his guns against the speeches of Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Ritambhara. This is the height of the duplicity. This book is like a newspaper which bears the name of Hindu but, in its content, it is anti-Hindu. The author of the book wants to be given the complete freedom to criticise, lampoon and haul up the practitioners of Hinduism but has no guts to analyse the problems which have been bedevilling the country and why the Hindus have been pushed to the corner, which has left no choice for them but to retaliate in their own way.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 20 Nov 2019 19:23

The Meat Question : Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food

Humans are eating more meat than ever. Despite ubiquitous Sweetgreen franchises and the example set by celebrity vegans, demand for meat is projected to grow at twice the rate of demand for plant-based foods over the next thirty years. Between 1960 and 2010, per capita meat consumption in the developing world more than doubled; in China, meat consumption grew ninefold. It has even been claimed that meat made us human—that our disproportionately large human brains evolved because our early human ancestors ate meat. In The Meat Question, Josh Berson argues that not only did meat not make us human, but the contemporary increase in demand for meat is driven as much by economic insecurity as by affluence. Considering the full sweep of meat's history, Berson concludes provocatively that the future is not necessarily carnivorous.

Berson, an anthropologist and historian, argues that we have the relationship between biology and capitalism backward. We may associate meat-eating with wealth, but in fact, meat-eating is a sign of poverty; cheap meat—hunger killing, easy to prepare, eaten on the go—enables a capitalism defined by inequality. To answer the meat question, says Berson, we need to think about meat-eating in a way that goes beyond Paleo diets and PETA protests to address the deeply entwined economic and political lives of humans and animals past, present, and future.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby chetak » 24 Nov 2019 00:58


Kashmir: wail of a valley by Mohanlal Koul - seems to recap history from 1300s to current exodus. Available on the inet.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby NRao » 28 Nov 2019 11:36

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby dinesha » 28 Apr 2020 16:55

University Of Lahore Press has published two books since its inception and has decided to make these two publications available as e-copies, free of cost.
1. Nuclear Pakistan: Seeking Security & Stability (2020)
Edited by: Naeem Salik

2.The Blind Eye: U.S. Non-Proliferation Policy Towards Pakistan from Ford to Clinton (2020)
by Rabia Akhta

Free downloads:

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 12 May 2020 03:57

Book Review : Sunni's and Shia

Sunnis and Shi’a is principally an exploration of that second great Islamic denomination, which revolves around the figure of Mohammed’s son-in-law, Ali ibn Abu Talib, known as the first Shiite Imam. Louër shows how reason and the embrace of rationalism is central to Shia faith and theology, and explains the contextualism that allows its clergy to adapt to social and historical change — in ways denied to their majority Sunni counterparts. She emphasizes Shiism’s historic role as a creed of social justice, a movement of the weak against the strong, and of the people against unjust rulers — alongside a Sunni orthodoxy that embraces hierarchy and established authority. It was Shiism that would have been the faith most naturally predisposed to bring about a reconciliation of Islam with Western scientific modernity — and yet it is everywhere submerged under the atavism of its political leaders, from Khamenei to Hezbollah to Iraq’s rival sectarian warlords. The world has lost not just by the absence of a moderate Iran, but of a moderate Shia power.

The early history is well known. Ali, who had married Mohammed’s daughter Zaynab, became the fourth Muslim Caliph in 656, almost a quarter of a century after Mohammed’s death in 632. But his reign coincided with deepening division in the growing Arab Caliphate and, amid a revolt led by a powerful rival in Syria, Ali was assassinated in 661. The Sunni Caliphate was continued from Damascus, but Ali’s followers broke away and recognized his descendants as a lineage of divinely appointed Imams who would lead a community of “true Muslims.” When the third Imam, Ali’s son Hussein, was killed in 680 in battle with the forces of the Caliph, his “martyrdom” became a focal point of Shiite belief commemorated in the festival of Ashura, and the site of his death in Karbala in southern Iraq became one of the main sites of Shiite pilgrimage — alongside Ali’s mausoleum in Najaf.

The story of the Shiite Imams to follow is almost a parody of factionalism — and its calcified remains still lie dotted across the map of the modern Middle East. A dispute over the succession to the fourth Imam (d. 713) produced a splinter group known as the Zaydis, who went on to dominate the politics and government of northern Yemen for over a thousand years. A dispute over the succession to the sixth Imam (d. 765) brought us the Ismailis, who now reside in the south of present-day Saudi Arabia, and the Lebanese Druze. The lack of charisma shown by the tenth and eleventh Imams allowed a pretender to arise in the 870s, bequeathing to us the Alawites, whose successors are still hanging on to power as the rulers of modern Syria.

These petty sects are better known as “Alidism.”
Mainstream Shiism, by contrast, was the creation of the educated and prosperous clergy of southern Iraq in the ninth century. Frustrated by the proliferation of radical creeds, and impatient with ineffectual Imams, the Shia ulema hit upon a deus ex machina in the claim that the twelfth Imam — a minor, with no obvious successor, who presumably died – had miraculously “disappeared” in 874, and would remain “hidden” until his return on Judgement Day. In the meantime, they would be responsible for interpreting His will — and thus the will of God. As the “architects and guardians of dogma,” these Shiite clergy were able to consolidate Shiism into an organized faith with a sophisticated theology able to rival the established corpus of Sunnism.

The final piece in our contemporary puzzle fell into place in 1501, when a new Safavid king of Persia established Shiism as the official state religion. From that point on, geopolitical and ethnic rivalry was fused with religious schism, as Sunni Ottomans and Shiite Persians confronted one another along a frontier stretching thousands of miles, from the mountains of Kurdistan in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south. In the 20th century, it would be this divide, now separating Iran and Iraq, that would form the bloodiest international border outside Europe — one of the few, it’s worth recalling, that had nothing to do with Western colonialism.

Sunnis and Shi’a is also concerned with exploring how the sectarian divide has been managed in practice in a range of national contexts in the present day — including in Pakistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. It used to be said of the Washington, D.C., foreign-policy establishment that, having discovered the Sunni–Shia split in the aftermath of the second Iraq war, they started to see its malign hand everywhere. Louër’s survey is an effective antidote. She makes the commonsense point that the pattern of Sunni–Shia engagement throughout the Islamic world has as often been one of coexistence and cooperation as of sectarian conflict and war. We can find, for example, even in the “puritanical” Saudi Kingdom large Shiite populations free to apply their own religious law within their community, and whose leaders have served on the king’s consultative council. In Bahrain, now a major flash-point, we can find a deep history of Sunni monarchs engaging closely with loyalist Shiite subjects, not least because they were valued by their Sunni rulers as allies against the Communists.

One Shia ritual Louër identifies involves the public insulting of Mohammed’s earliest Companions and the first three Muslim Caliphs — that is, precisely those figures most sacred to Sunnis as models for true religious life. (They are known as the Salaf — hence Salafism.) Most modern Shiites have retreated from their early claims that the Koran itself is a Sunni-doctored falsification. But many continue to regard fundamental elements of Sunni worship as false, and do not regard Sunni mosques as “real mosques.” For their part, Sunnis give as good as they get. Louër tells us that there is a school of Sunni scholars today who maintain that Shiism tout court was created as part of an eighth-century Jewish conspiracy designed to sow discord in the Muslim community. One suspects that increased contact, freer debate, and better understanding, rather than building bridges, would simply make people hate one another more.

In a political world that requires tact and subtlety, where struggling factions reach for recognition and toleration, rather than radical equality, there can be nothing so dangerous as “religious entrepreneurs” promising political utopias — which brings us back to Ayatollah Khamenei. In each of Louër’s national audits, the story since 1979 is one of extremist violence and steady radicalization of sectarian difference, as Tehran’s efforts to export revolution throughout the region transformed once-integrated Shiite communities into vectors for Iranian influence and interest. The Shiite pressure groups and civil-society organizations of the 1970s became the “Islamic Liberation Fronts” of the 1980s. Coup attempts replaced compromise, as in Bahrain in 1981.

Many of these national scenes have yet to recover — and so long as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards exist to freewheel around the region as gun-runners and king-makers, it is difficult to see how recovery begins.

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