Facts win over fiction on bookshelf

Browse on through a pile of serious non-fiction titles this week.

1.Book: "The Victoria Cross: A Love Story"; Written by Ashali Varma; Published by Pearson India; Price: Rs.375

Prem Bhagat of the Indian Army was awarded the Victoria Cross in the year 1941, for his gallant action during World War II, which was described as "the longest continued feat ...Of sheer cold courage".

He was a young 2nd lieutenant then, and was in love. He often wrote to his beloved, Mohini from the front, but his letters never talked about the ordeals of the battle. Instead they dwelled on the small details of everyday life, light-heartedly described, despite the pervasive presence of death in the trenches of war.

He returned home a hero, but thought lightly of it. Interestingly, according to him, his greatest feat was to have obtained permission from Mohini`s father to marry her.

The "Victoria Cross: A Love Story" recounts the story of Prem and Mohini. A memoir written by their daughter, this book is a tribute to her parents. It presents a true story of courage and love, spanning six decades - from the battlefields in Africa during World War II to India after Independence and beyond.

2.Book: "Miracles Happen"; Written by Dr.Brian Weiss; Published by Hay House; Price: Rs.399

The New York Times bestselling author of "Many Lives, Many Masters", Brian Weiss delivers a powerful revolutionary teaching on the physical, emotional and spiritual healing available to all through embracing the reality of reincarnation.

It is a remarkable teaching tool that can be used by all to improve their lives, to evolve along their spiritual paths, to experience more joy, love and happiness in the present moment, and to ultimately understand that there is no need to fear death as we are all immortal and innately spiritual beings.

Brian Weiss` conversion from skepticism towards reincarnation to confirmed belief has had a profound effect worldwide. Each story is used to illustrate practical lessons for how you too can comprehend this revelation and draws upon Brian`s and his daughter Amy`s
practices as past-life regression experts.

3.Book: "India`s Tryst with Destiny: Debunking Myths that Undermine Progress and Addressing New Challenges"; Written by Jagdhish Bhagawati and Arvind Panagariya; Price: Rs.599

Policy discourse in India tends to be dominated by assertions unsupported by facts. Often, the result is the creation and perpetuation of myths of all kinds.

Thus, many believe today that poverty, illiteracy and ill-health afflict India because its leadership ignored them in favour of growth for its own sake; that the economic reforms that focused on growth have failed to help the poor, especially the socially disadvantaged; that any gains claimed in poverty alleviation derive from the use of progressively lower poverty lines; and that even if gains have been made, with one in two children suffering from malnutrition, reforms have done precious little to improve health outcomes.

In this definitive book on economic reforms in India since Independence, Bhagwati and Panagariya decisively demolish these and other myths, which critics use as weapons to wound and maim the reforms.

Using systematic data and analysis, they forcefully show that once the debris of critiques of India`s reforms is cleared, it becomes evident that intensification of reforms - that allows sustained rapid growth - is the only way to lift millions out of poverty, illiteracy and ill-health.

4.Book: "Headley and I"; Written by Hussain Zaidi; Published by Harper Collins India; Price: Rs.350

For most of his childhood, Rahul Bhatt did not know a father`s unconditional love - a vacuum that the advent of David Coleman Headley filled for a while. David Headley: the dashing, intriguing Pakistani with one brown eye and a green one, a man who could pass himself off as American quite easily, a charmer of men and women alike.

Headley inveigled his way into Rahul`s simple world and, in no time, swept him
off his feet. It is only when ten men made a mockery of Mumbai in a well-planned act of terrorism, that Rahul realized how close he had come to being a part of the careful plotting and the innumerable reconnaissance that Headley carried out. This is a complex tale of human relationships and the deceit therein.

It is the story of Rahul Bhatt, an aspiring Bollywood actor, and his encounter with David Coleman Headley, the man who was responsible for a ruthlessly executed carnage, in which 166 people were killed and over 300 injured in the 59 hours that brought Mumbai to heel and shook India.

A pulse-racing narrative, told in the voices of Bhatt and Headley, the book traces the months leading up to the horrors of 26/11 and the long months of interrogation that followed.

5.Book: "The Magic of Saida"; Written by M.G. Vassanji; Published by Penguin-India; Price: Rs.499

Descendent of an African slave and a Gujarati trader, Kamal Punja grew up in the ancient town of Kilwa, on the coast of East Africa. Kamal, who never knew his father, is given away by his mother to better his prospects. Years later, after a flourishing career as a doctor in Canada, he returns, in search of Saida, his childhood sweetheart.

But where is Saida, and why are his efforts to find her being thwarted? Feverish, delirious, and perhaps delusional, Kamal is haunted by the past as he struggles to trace the woman he thinks he betrayed. Along the way, he must face the truth of his mixed lineage and be accountable for a chain of events he had unwittingly set off.

Set in the vivid world where Africa, Arabia and India meet, where history, poetry, and magic combine, "The Magic of Saida" is a haunting story of enduring love and lost childhood.



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