So, I love collecting books. I see a good book, especially if it has anything to do with history, politics, world affairs and I just have to buy it. I know that I may never get a chance to read them all, but one can dream right? And just looking at them gives me immense pleasure. I begin each morning by walking around the library, running my hands over books, flipping some open and smiling. I know that at the end of the day (or even in between), I have something to look forward to. My friends and family often complain that the only reason INDIAreads came up is so that I could indulge this book addiction of mine. Every time they call and ask, “So where are you?,” the answer inevitably is, “book shopping.” “Again?” “Hey, that’s my job after all ”
So in my latest shopping spree I came across some great Off the Beaten Track Non Fiction reads (bought 500 in one go ). They’ll make their way to the library collection soon enough but here’s a list of a few choice picks. Now take a look and tell me can you really blame me for buying these????
P.s. I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to read and review all of these, so am including external albeit reliable reviews. The once without any information are books which we have already uploaded on the site with all information. Hope you enjoy them!!!!!
1. Conquerors of Time: Exploration and Invention in the Age of Daring by Trevor Fishlock: A completely absorbing read that brings to life the important events and ideas that have shaped our world. It is about “men, animals and machines, about the seafarers, engineers, inventors and trailblazers who enabled the British to hold together a vast empire and the Americans to push their frontiers West.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/feb/14/featuresreviews.guardianreview21
2. Spectre of Violence: The 1857 Kanpur Massacres by Rudrangshu Mukherjee: An illuminating inquiry into the play of power and dominance behind 1857 .
On 27 June 1857, rebels publicly slaughtered over 300 men, women and children of the ‘master race’ at the Satichaura Ghat in Kanpur. On 15 July, a group of women and children who had survived were killed at the Bibighur. Two days later, General Havelock reclaimed Kanpur and Colonel James Neill decimated the rebel population. This sequence of violence has held sway over Indian and British imaginations for generations, and historians and commentators have recounted the massacres with horror.
Locating the massacres in the upheaval which overtook north India in the early nineteenth century, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, an eminent 1857 historian, analyses the nature of the violence. Mukherjee argues that the absence of rebel accounts and chronicles inhibits a telling of their version of the story. What is available are the contemporary accounts of British survivors, diaries of British loyalists and depositions as part of the official report prepared by the British. By reading these sources ‘against their grain’ and by examining the manner in which the evidence was stitched together, Spectre of Violence brings to light fresh directions of inquiry into the events of 1857.
3. The Mammoth Book of War Correspondents: 100 of the greatest war dispatches ever written with contributions from Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Crane, George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Rudyard Kipling, James Cameroon, Leon Trotsky and Max Hastings. “War correspondence is a dangerous job, but someone has to do it. The readers demand it. Need it. Warfare has changed much since Russell’s day (the first man to use the telegraph in the 1840s to to send dispatches from the Crimean wars.), so has the technology of war journalism from telegraph to sat phone, and live commentary as you watch war-u like on the tube. The readers’ hunger for war news has changed too. It’s even greater. In the information age the one information you cannot do without is Mars’s latest havoc. Somewhere, a war correspondent is dying to give it to you.” This book contains dispatches from the Crimean war to the Franco-Prussian War, from the American Civil War to the Russian Civil War, from the World Wars to the Korean War, from the Cuban Civil War to Chechnya, from Bolivia (the last journey of Che Guevara) to Vietnam.
4. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a window into human nature by Steven Pinker: How you use words can determine how your mind works, Steven Pinker explains here. Find out more with this detailed NYT review. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/books/review/Saletan-t.html
5. Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment by Jacques Leslie: There are more than 45,000 of them in the world. They have altered the speed of the planet’s rotation, the tilt of its axis, and the shape of its gravitational field. They influence landscapes and societies. They are dams, and in Deep Water,Jacques Leslie offers an incisive, searching, and beautifully written account of the emerging crisis over dams and the world’s water. Reporting in the tradition of John McPhee and Peter Matthiessen, Leslie examines the crisis through the lives of three people: Medha Patkar, the world’s foremost anti-dam activist; Thayer Scudder, an American anthropologist; and Don Blackmore, an Australian water manager. In each of these engrossing portraits, Leslie shows how dams seduce national leaders with seeming bounties of water and power but end up producing blights on the citizenry and landscape. Deep Water is an eloquent and important book about the water crisis and a startling look at the fate of our planet. (From goodreads.com)
6. Simplexity: Why Simple things become complex (and how Complex things can be made simple) by Jeffrey Kluger: Frustrated by the traffic on narrow bridges? Stunned by the number of buttons on a remote control? Saddened by the lack of basic medical care in the developing world? Kluger (Splendid Solution) makes the modern world comprehensible, analyzing social and technological systems to reveal that “things that seem complicated can be preposterously simple; things that seem simple can be dizzyingly complex.” He compares cells to cities to stock markets, renders quarks and fractals accessible and draws parallels between Wal-Mart and AIDS clinics in Tanzania. Although Kluger is prone to hyperbole, his astonishing discoveries require no exaggeration: the book describes how even the most technologically advanced manufacturing plant is infinitely simpler than a humble houseplant “with its microhydraulics and fine-tuned metabolism and dense schematic of nucleic acids”—and baseball fans will be dismayed to discover that football is, in fact, the more complex of the two games: “the possible number of starting configurations before the play even begins is… 31.4 billion.” Kluger’s findings are likely to incite controversy, confirming his contention that explaining simplicity and complexity is never as straightforward as it seems. (Publishers Weekly, April 2008)
7. Flames of the Chinar by Sheikh Abdullah (Abridged and translated from Urdu by Khushwant Singh): This is the autobiography of Sher-e-Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah, the man who shaped Kashmir’s destiny.
8. Mountbatten and the Partition of India by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre: This book contains interviews with Mountbatten, and a selection of papers that were in his possession, explaining and examining Mountbatten’s role in India’s partition.
9. The Europe since Napoleon by David Thomson
10. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz
11. War Made new: Weapons, Warriors, and the Making of the Modern World by Max Boot: From bronze cannons to smart bombs, this engaging study examines the impact of new weaponry on war by spotlighting exemplary battles, including famous epics like the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the attack on Pearl Harbor along with obscure clashes like the 1898 Battle of Omdurman, in which a British colonial force mowed down Sudanese tribesmen with machine guns. Boot (The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power) gives due weight to social context: advanced weapons don’t spell victory unless accompanied by good training and leadership; innovative doctrine; an efficient, well-funded bureaucracy; and a “battle culture of forbearance” that eschews warrior ferocity in favor of a soldierly ethos of disciplined stoicism under fire. These factors flourish, he contends, under a rationalist, progressive Western mindset. The author, a journalist and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, enlivens his war stories with profiles of generals from Gustavus Adolphus to Norman Schwarzkopf and splashes of blood and guts. Boot distills 500 years of military history into a well-paced, insightful narrative. (from the Publishers’ Weekly)
By now, we all know that technological and strategic revolutions have changed the face of war, but how many of us also realize how much these innovations have also transformed the world beyond the battlefield? Narrative historian Max Boot contends that advances in military affairs helped create the modern nation, facilitated the growth of European colonial empires, and aided the rise of 20th-century totalitarian governments. Boot’s detail-packed discussion of the impact of military revolutions on the course of modern history makes War Made New one of the most provocative, thought-stimulating books in recent memory (goodreads review)
12. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell: Among his many gifts, Joseph Campbell’s most impressive was the unique ability to take a contemporary situation, such as the murder and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, and help us understand its impact in the context of ancient mythology. Herein lies the power of The Power of Myth, showing how humans are apt to create and live out the themes of mythology. Based on a six-part PBS television series hosted by Bill Moyers, this classic is especially compelling because of its engaging question-and-answer format, creating an easy, conversational approach to complicated and esoteric topics. For example, when discussing the mythology of heroes, Campbell and Moyers smoothly segue from the Sumerian sky goddess Inanna to Star Wars‘ mercenary-turned-hero, Han Solo. Most impressive is Campbell’s encyclopedic knowledge of myths, demonstrated in his ability to recall the details and archetypes of almost any story, from any point and history, and translate it into a lesson for spiritual living in the here and now. –Gail Hudson, Amazon.com
13. True as the Stars above: Adventures in Modern Astrology by Neil Spencer: What do Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and the leaders of the Third Reich have in common? They all consulted astrologers. Why? How does astrology work, and if scientists like Richard Dawkins go out of their way to rubbish it, why has it never been so popular? Most books on astrology have either been how-to manuals, cheap guides to the year ahead, or forbidding academic tomes on subjects like the transits of Pluto – until now. True as the Stars Above is a irreverent, intelligent defence of astrology, and an examination of the extraordinary role it has played in the past and still plays today. Among some of the revelations in the book: Margaret Thatcher sought astrological advice after the Brighton bomb. A significant number of the world’s major financial institutions have an astrologer or two on their payroll. British intelligence employed an astrologer during WWII because they were convinced Hitler was doing the same. Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff (to his fury) was forced to keep a colour coded calendar, with green for good days, red for bad days and yellow for ‘iffy’ days, in line with the views of Nancy’s astrologer. This is astrology demystified, whether it’s the ongoing row over statistical evidence for astrology; the myth of The Age of Aquarius; computer dating by star sign or why Gone With The Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara is definitely an Aries.
14. Beyond the Oxus: the Central Asians by Monica Whitlock
15. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: Okay, before you point it out, I know this one’s fiction, but I just had to mention it. Why? Read the synopsis below…..
“. . . I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”
January, 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, Dawsey Adams, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name in a book?
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of Dawsey and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—a book club born as a spur-of-the- moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts an outstanding cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable conversation in letters with the Society’s members, learning about their lives, their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on all of them. Over time, and despite a demanding and dramatic life in London, she finds herself drawn to the self-contained Dawsey Adams, and to the story of Elizabeth, a young woman whose bright spirit and strength live on in the daughter she left behind when she was sent to a concentration camp. Juliet knows she has found the subject of her book, and possibly much more, and sets sail for Guernsey, changing the course of her life forever.
And I could go on and on, after I hand picked every book and each according to me is special….but here’s just a taster….just to explain why I am a compulsive book buyer!!!!!