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(ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII NO. 22, March 1-15, 2013
On the Bookshelves
Of war and wickets
By Savitha Gautam

Still Counting The Dead – Survivors of Sri Lanka's Hidden War: Frances Harrison (Portobello Books, Rs. 399).

Once a tropical paradise with virgin beaches and picturesque landscapes, Sri Lanka soon became synonymous with blood and gore as civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the Government tore the country apart and left hundreds of thousands of children, doctors, farmers, fishermen, nuns and other civilians in a traumatised state.

Now, the United Nations has launched an enquiry into the war crimes, some of which find their way into this book in shattering detail.

Harrison, a former BBC correspondent, who spent four years in the war-ravaged nation, puts together some interesting insights into the decades-long ethnic conflict and tries to fill several gaps on what could have gone on in the last five months of war from the perspective of LTTE activists/sympathisers as well as innocent civilians.

The book tells the tale of human suffering, the ugly face of war and the futility of it all in the voices of several – a U.N. official, a pro-LTTE TamilNet journalist, the head of the LTTE Peace Secretariat (Pulidevan) who was killed under controversial circumstances, a government doctor, a nun, a teacher, an LTTE media department woman functionary with two children, an LTTE fighter, a shopkeeper and a rape victim married to an LTTE fighter.

Significantly, most of the people who have lived to tell their story have "managed to buy their way out of the island nation by heavily bribing the corrupt military, police and bureaucracy."

The book is definitely for the brave hearted, as some of the truth can really wrench you. But beneath the coldness of war and the suffering, you glimpse the triumph of the human spirit, the courage of a people who have moved on despite the circumstances. And that's what makes this a compelling read.

* * *

Pataudi: Nawab of Cricket: Edited by: Suresh Menon with Foreword by Sharmila Tagore (Harper Sport, Rs. 499).

Dashing, smashing and one of cricket's early superstars, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, whose other name was Tiger, was perhaps one of the most distinguished and undisputed 'Nawabs' of Indian cricket.

A right-handed batsman, he made his first-class debut in England, for Sussex in August 1957, when he was just 16. Tiger was someone who changed the way cricket was perceived and played. As the youngest captain (he was only 21) who led India in 40 Tests, he forged a national identity in a team where that was sometimes divided by regional lines, and helped raise the bar of fielding and bowling like never before.

Despite the handicap (he lost one eye to an accident even before he became a pro), Tiger was a force to reckon with from the moment he made his Test debut against England in December 1961 till 1975.

This book is a compilation of essays by fellow cricketers, friends and family, summing up Tiger, both on and off the field. Some of the contributors include Farokh Engineer, Abbas Ali Baig, Bishan Bedi, Mike Brearley, David Woolley, Naseeruddin Shah, Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Chappell, N. Ram, Tony Lewis, Vijay Merchant, M.J. Akbar, Suresh Menon, Ray Robinson, Mudar Patherya, Rajdeep Sardesai, John Woodcock, Rahul Dravid, Robin Marlar, Ted Dexter, Mike Coward, Saba Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan.

Who better than Suresh Menon to be at the helm of this book? A well-known sport journalist, Menon has edited books on many sportspersons, including Sachin Tendulkar. A touching foreword by Tiger's wife Sharmila Tagore lends a personal touch.

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In this Issue

The sad, sad state of Chepauk Palace
Will Metro moves threaten Ripon Building, VP Hall?
On the Bookshelves – Of war and wickets
CUMTA should have a wider role
He took up a host of public causes
The illustrious scientist who teamed with C.V. Raman
From R'puram Medical School to Stanley Medical College

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Madras Eye


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