My Review: Animal Farm.

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

– Animal Farm.

First published by George Orwell on 17 August, 1945; I believe I made the greatest injustice of them all for having picked it up in the recent weeks past. This can perhaps be best termed as a satirical novel in certain terms; if such a genre exists at all. Without giving much into the overall gist of the book, George Orwell seems to exhibit his sheer brilliance as a writer for the simple and lucid manner in which he takes a dig at the Stalinist era that prevailed in Russia at the time and at the Russian Revolution of 1917 in general.

It’s one of those reads that keeps you completely pinned down to the book right from the very start with an air of promise all throughout. What bewilders the reader the most and that what continues to do so, is how the author resurrects faith in the whole idea of storytelling. If you’re the type who fancies the use of flamboyant vocabulary, then you might detest this; for, the grade of language used here is in a way, down to earth and with the real emphasis being laid on making the reader understand the message that the author tries to convey and open up his/her eyes to the light of truth which he sees rather than pay much heed to the rustling of leaves and the gentle lash of tides against the shores with a poignant air of melancholy to it. Well under 200 pages in all, it doesn’t take much, before you swift past the finish line. But, what that truly enthrals you in the end is how Orwell effortlessly manages to make you see through everything that is at play even before it eventually unfolds up in your mind.

In short, it’s all hands down in praise for George Orwell’s, Animal Farm. This is one aspect that finds a true reflection across all spectrums of society. Perhaps, the only lot that might not feel binding to be appreciative of this would be the former that I had made mention of earlier or the ones with a pro Stalinist outlook. Either way, it is certainly a must read for all ages, shapes and sizes, for, as the book rightly points out, man is but, nothing short of a beast in it’s rawest thoughts.

– Hee-Haw!

My Review: The Boys in the Boat.

It is hard to make the boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of the men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.

– George Yeoman Pocock.

Daniel James Brown had put together the essentials of how and what constituted the American rowing crew which went on to become the champions of the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Up until I picked up this book, I was unaware of the adversities that had to be faced when you bring together a bunch of men, put them on a boat and simply asked them to row. The physical strain is undoubtedly one but, how it actually fosters a sense of brotherhood and moulds the whole crew as a single entity had been brought to life by the author rather splendidly.

Each chapter starts off with a few words of wisdom by George Yeoman Pocock; who plays a pivotal role in moulding up the American crew for the Berlin Olympics and also the man who was responsible for bringinging to life the best racing shells in production at that time. The book doesn’t entirely focus on the disciplines of the sport which might not be of great interest to readers who are not acquainted with it. But, rather it explains how boys of average and below average upbringings had to wrestle it out to earn their mark. It emphasizes on the bridge of trust that has to exist between men. One of the best parts of this read was where the author explains about what is referred to as the ‘Swing’ in terms of rowing jargons which he goes onto explain as the most beautiful and enriching experience that rowers experience when the entire racing shell functions and steers ahead as a single living, breathing soul; where, the rows dip in and out of the water in unison and where the entire crew breathes in as one.

The book also primarily points it’s focus on the life and times of Joe Rantz, who is portrayed as the lead protagonist in the book. Having lost his mother at a very early age, and having a troubled childhood in his formative years, Joe was left to fend for himself. His decision to join the University of Washington’s rowing crew helped him regain the lost trust he had in others and helped him revive his outlook on life in general. The case of Bobby Moch who steered the American shell is another yet inspirational character in the book where his unquestioning attitude as the coxswain is worth mentioning.

The book throws light on the state of Germany right up to the point of the Berlin Olympics as to how the Nazi propaganda was being played out at that time and on the works of Leni Riefenstahl’s involvement in documenting the Berlin Olympics. The American crew’s win in the Olympics of 1936 has been beautifully portrayed as challenge of might against fascist Germany where the Americans rowed head to head with their German counterparts and eventually to outrun them; and, all this when the Fuhrer himself was overseeing the waltz at play. Perhaps, a prequel to what he was to expect in years to come with the entry of the Americans into the great war which eventually threw him off.

The part that intrigued me the most of this book was how the author describes the state of comradeship that continued to exist between the men even after the Olympics. The book truly very much upholds the axiom that, sport builds character; as, it is evident from the transformation that each of these oarsmen of the American crew had underwent. This is inarguably a great read for sports enthusiasts or even otherwise for that matter. On the case of the language or the literature that is being used, it is simple and lucid for the average reader. Definitely a must read as per my recommendations.

– Row!

My Review: One Life Is Not Enough.

 

This would perhaps be one of my first reads which I believe sheds light into the corridors of power as far as the world’s largest democracy is concerned. K. Natwar Singh had previously served the prestigious Indian Foreign Services for close to 31 years before taking up his retirement voluntarily, to enter the grand stage of Indian Politics as the Minister for External Affairs. His autobiography gives in depth details and analysis on India’s Foreign Policies right from the Nehru era till 2004 when he had to step down as Minister due to his alleged involvement in the Oil for Food scam in Iraq which was shed to light by the Volcker’s committee report under the United Nations.

His book had been criticized extensively by the Indian National Congress as he had brought to light many of the chain of events that had transpired from the moment his name had been mentioned under the Volcker report. He goes an extra mile in even mentioning the name of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress and questioning her actions and her hold and control that she exercised over the party. It’s worth mentioning that only a handful of Congressmen have stepped this far in criticizing the Congress President and this is one such. The book talks in length of K. Natwar Singh’s term during which he had served the Indian Foreign Service and his experience in working under the tenure of the late Prime Ministers Shri. Jawaharlal Nehru, Smt. Indira Gandhi and also under the young and vibrant Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. As far as the literature is concerned, it is well versed and has a diplomatic tinge to the style of writing. Some of the other important contexts of the book would be the foreign policies that India had pursued mainly with it’s next door neighbors which includes China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It highlights the key notes both on the winning and losing edges as far as the policies and relationships which India had shared with her next door neighbors.

The book also as with most biographies or autobiographies are concerned as it is with this one, has a collection of great moments captured in photographs which gives a sense of power and the high stakes at which the actions or the chain of events that progressed as narrated in the book. One of the major insight for me was the realization of the close bonds that India had shared with the erstwhile USSR right from the beginning of India’s independence all the way up till it’s fall with the onset  of the 90’s. The other major highlights would be the LTTE crisis that had persisted in Sri Lanka and how the Rajiv Gandhi Government had made a total mess of it and how it all in the end, culminated in the untimely demise and assassination of the Ex. Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. The same would also go for the Golden Temple crisis which later took a toll on his mother’s lifer prior to his.

This would certainly be a recommendation for anyone who is interested in getting to know as to what it is like to serve in the helm of power and what goes around along the corridors of power in New Delhi from 10 Janpath all the way till 7 Race Cross Road.

– One Life Is certainly Not Enough.