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Kashmir, Pakistan & history on book shelf

New Delhi: The book case this week is serious and fires reality shots on issues like terror, Kashmir, Pakistan and history.

1. Book: `The Meadow`; Written by Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott Clark; Published by Penguin-India; Priced at Rs.499

In the summer of 1995, six tourists were kidnapped in the mountains of Kashmir. The ransom note said the kidnappers were from an unheard of Islamic outfit and they wanted the release of Pakistani militant leader Maulana Masood Azhar (later responsible for the attack on the Indian parliament). The kidnapping electrified the world and put the global spotlight on Kashmir.

Within four days, one of the prisoners had made a hair-raising escape. A month on, he was found, beheaded by his captors who had carved their name into his flesh. In the background, camped out in Delhi, the families of those missing struggled to keep their hopes alive, while international governments negotiated frantically and the Indian army, police and intelligence services tried to follow the trail.

But the remaining four hostages were never found, their case forgotten. The book tries to probe the fate of the missing hostages and puts the story together.

2. Book: "Pakistan on the Brink"; Written by Ahmed Rashid; Published by Penguin Books India; Priced at Rs.1,431

Now that Osama Bin laden is dead, Pakistan is threatened by internal power struggles. The relationship between US and Pakistan is at an all-time low and as the US and Britain begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan, what are the possibilities and hazards facing the world`s most unstable region? Where is the Taliban now, and how do they figure in the future of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan? What does the immediate future hold, and what are the choices that Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West can make?

These are some of the crucial questions that Ahmed Rashid takes on in this follow-up to his acclaimed "Descent into Chaos". Rashid had predicted that the Iraq war would need to be re-focused into Afghanistan, and that Pakistan would emerge as the leading player through which American interests and actions would have to be directed.

3. Book: "Highway 39: Journeys Through a Fractured land"; Written by Sudeep Chakrabarti; Published by Harper Collins India; Priced at Rs.450

In "Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured land", the writer attempts to unravel the brutal history of Nagaland and Manipur, their violent and restive present, and their uncertain and yet desperately hopeful future as he travels along Dimapur, Kohima, Senapati, Imphal, Thoubal and their hinterlands - all touch points of brutalized aspiration, identity, conflict and tragedy.

These are the lands where militants not only battle the Indian government but also each other in a frenzy of ego, politics and survival, and enforce `parallel` administrations. The writer`s journey introduces the reader to stories that chill, anger and offer uneasy reflection like a 14-year-old Naga girl who dies resisting a soldier`s attempt to rape her - and is now an icon. An eleven-year-old girl abducted by police in Manipur because they want to trap her parents and a staged shootout in Imphal that kills a former rebel, and also an innocent lady and her unborn child.

4. Book: "The legend of Amrapali"; Written by Anurag Anand; Published by Shrishti; Priced Rs.150

Aryavart (around 500 B.C.), was a land of many prosperous kingdoms and among the most prominent of them was the Vajji Confederacy - one of the first democratic republics known to mankind. Vaishali, the capital of the Confederacy and that of the illustrious Lichchavis was not only a centre of commerce and political activity but also the blessed motherland of Amrapali.

The book is the story of mayhem and turmoil brought about by the obstinate desires of one man - a man blinded by the intoxication of power. It is a story of sinister plots and political wizardry, of unbridled passion, of naked ambitions and dogged loyalties that lead to the transformation of an innocent young girl into one of the most revered, even worshipped, and occasionally feared personalities of her times, the courtesan Amrapali.

5. Book: "The Innocent"; Written by David Baldacci; Published by Pan Macmillan; Priced at Rs.350

Back in DC after successful missions in Edinburgh and Tangier, assassin Will Robie sees his latest assignment, to eliminate a US government employee go badly wrong. Robie is now a wanted man. But it seems that he`s not the only one on the run. Young teenager Julie Getty is devastated by the inexplicable murder of her parents in their home. Who wanted them dead, and why, is a mystery. But Julie is smart enough to believe that their killer will come after her. Robie and Julie meet when he saves her from an attempt on her life as they were trying to leave town. The police investigating the hit start to take an interest in Robie. He`s particularly attracting the interest of Special Agent Nicole Vance, who believes that the two cases are connected. Robie finds himself in a dangerous position as he is tasked to investigate a crime at which he was present. Does he need to change sides to save lives - including his own?

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