Jerusalem by Guy Delisle [Book Review]

Jerusalem by Guy Delisle

Title :  Jerusalem

Author : Guy Delisle

ISBN : 9782756025698

Publisher : RHUK

Genre : Nonfiction, Geopolitics & International Relations, Graphic Novels

Pages : 336

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars


Guy Delisle is a famous graphic travelogue artist and after covering Burma (Myanmar), North Korea and China, the ancient city of Jerusalem is his latest project. He visits Jerusalem with his girlfriend (who is working for Doctors without borders) and children and has written an enriching account of the daily humdrum of lives in the mystical city that stands at the crossroads of three Abrahamic religion- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The tone of this graphic novel is curious and humorous and though the author doesn’t go in detail to explain each sight that he experiences, he has done a commendable job in articulating the diverse manifestations of the city and his people. The author was permanently living in East Jerusalem (Part of Palestine) so it’s obvious that his views and descriptions might sound a bit pro-Palestinian but he has also tried to present the viewpoint of Jewish settlers in the city. He meets Arabs, anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews, orthodox Jews who hate Arabs, modern Jews in Tel Aviv who hate all religious fanatics and even the Samaritans. For someone like me, who was completely unaware of Jewish traditions and customs, the book was an eye-opener and very informative.

The book also serves as a “Guide” to the famous religious sites (for different sects) and gives a little bit of historical and cultural details about them). In the backdrop of all this, the author never forgets to portray the sad reality of war and segregation that is taking place right since Israelis came here to settle down in the “promised land”

One aspect where the author must improve is coherence. At many points, I felt that a story/anecdote was left abruptly while the author moves on to describe another incident. Nevertheless, I am intrigued enough to read his other works on Burma and North Korea.

Buy yourself a copy of the book here: Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

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India vs Pakistan by Husain Haqqani [Book Review]

India vs Pakistan.jpg
India vs Pakistan by Husain Haqqani

Title : India vs Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?

Author : Hasain Haqqani

ISBN : 9788193237250

Publisher : Juggernaut

Genre : Geopolitics & International Relations

Pages : 200

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars




The only reason I picked this book was it being written by a Pakistani and I wanted to read a perspective from the other side of the border. It turned out that the author is not just a Pakistani, but a former Pakistani ambassador to the US and has held several high-ranking positions including as adviser to three former Pakistani prime ministers. Nevertheless, I was still expecting a biased version with distorted facts and figures (after all what can you expect from the bureaucrat of a country that has distorted the reporting of its own history!), but I was completely taken by surprise that how profoundly and maturely Mr. Haqqani has pin pointed all reasons as to why “India and Pakistan can’t be friends
In this short but whistle blower account, Haqqani clearly describes how Pakistani Mullah+Military camaraderie is not only terrorizing India but their own country and how the civilian government has been completely paraplegic to contain that. The author has tried to dive deep in the issue and has discussed the sentiments of the governments, military and civilian population of each country towards the other and correlates it with the various historical milestones that have perpetuated the current scenario. The book discusses Pakistan‘s faulty foreign policy and mistrust towards India, its tacit approval to irregular warfare (read terrorism), the gradual Islamization of the country and frankly compares the current attributes of both the countries that were ‘born together’

To cut it short, the book is a completely ‘honest and blunt‘ account (I might not be surprised if it is being banned in Pakistan for obvious reasons) and is a good choice to pick up if you want some hands-on, quick insights about the concerned scenario.

Buy yourself a copy of the book here: India vs Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?

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The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History by Sanjeev Sanyal [Book Review]

ocean.jpgTitle : The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History

Author : Sanjeev Sanyal

ISBN : 9780670087327

Publisher : Penguin Randomhouse India

Genre : Indian History and Politics, Geopolitics and International Relations

Pages : 297

Source : Publisher

Rating : 4 stars


How come the fossil remains of marine animals have been found in Himalayas?

How come we can see oriental faces in the engravings by Pallavas?

Why did Vasco Da Gama worship in a Hindu Temple when he set his foot in India for the first time?

How come the Parsi Community of India embraced the local Gujarati culture so effortlessly?

Yeah, you guessed it right- This books has not only answers, but also profound explanations of all the above mentioned (and many more) questions.

History has been prescribed in our curriculum right from the primary school. But if you will ponder a bit, its easy to realize that the entire curriculum is heavily skewed towards “Mainland History”. While we discuss Ashoka and Akbar in great lengths, a minuscule space is given to the Cholas, Chalukyas and Pallavas. We talk at lengths about Ashoka and Akbar but conveniently forget Kharavela.

In this groundbreaking, one-of-its-kind book, Sanjeev Sanyal retraces history from the Indian Ocean’s and its coastline’s perspective. The book start right from the origin of Indian Ocean due to the movement of tectonic plates and ends right at the transformation of Bombay to Mumbai with the reclamation of land over the ocean. The book is full of rich details of all kingdoms that throve around the Indian coastline and islands on Indian ocean and of also those that had cultural and trade ties with these kingdoms. Some of the anecdotes are a delight to read while many others get a bit dragging and prosaic- but it doesn’t undermine the fact that the book is an extremely informative account and is a result of an honest and meticulous hard work of author. Some details in this book will challenge your notions and previous knowledge of history with new insights and a different perspective while others will make you go bewildered about the richness and obscurity of our ancient times.

A heartfelt thanks to Penguin Books India for providing The BookTrack team with a review copy of the book. Please buy a copy of this book from Amazon here and start a literary ride which will increase your knowledge quotient for sure.

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India’s Afghan Muddle by Harsh V. Pant [Book Review]

India's Afghan Muddle by Harsh V Pant.jpgTitle : India’s Afghan Muddle

Author : Harsh V. Pant

ISBN : 9789351362128

Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers India

Genre : Non-Fiction, Geopolitics & International Relations

Pages : 194

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

This book was written in 2014, when US finally withdrew all its troops from Afghanistan seriously endangering the security of the region. The author Harsh V Pant, who is a Professor of International Relations at King’s college London has done a commendable job at carefully speculating and putting down that what a vulnerable and Taliban-threatened Afghanistan means for India and its security.

The book focusses on Indian interests in Afghanistan and the security vacuum that had been created post America’s withdrawal of troops, giving Taliban another chance to enter and wreak havoc in the country thus compromising the security of Indian Subcontinent.
The book also boldly concludes that how Pakistan, with its weak civilian government overpowered by the rogue military and intelligence, is the real culprit and how it has supported insurgents and Taliban in Afghanistan since ages and how it can be extremely disastrous for India if these forces again gain power.

At the end, the author puts forward his fears about the lack of a strong Indian foreign policy with Afghanistan and suggests some remedies to ensure that the safety and security of India is not endangered.

This was my first book on Geopolitics and International Relations so undoubtedly it was a difficult read. But if not anything else, this book gave me a fair insight about how just a Geographical location of a country can be of a strong strategic importance for her and how the security and stability of that country can have direct effects on all her neighbors.

An enlightening read. Buy from Amazon here.