Stephen Hawking, a troubled chapter in the nation’s recent history, and miniature painting feature on this week’s reading list.(HT Team)
Stephen Hawking, a troubled chapter in the nation’s recent history, and miniature painting feature on this week’s reading list.(HT Team)

HT Picks: New Reads

This week’s interesting reads includes a portrait of a genius, a former R&AW man’s look at a troubled chapter in the nation’s recent history, and a study of the remarkable miniatures in the TAPI Collection
Hindustan Times | By HT Team
UPDATED ON OCT 16, 2020 04:57 PM IST

A BEAUTIFUL PORTRAIT OF A BRILLIANT MIND

240pp, Rs 699; Penguin Random House
240pp, Rs 699; Penguin Random House

An icon of the last 50 years, Stephen Hawking seems to encapsulate genius: not since Albert Einstein has a scientific figure held such a position in popular consciousness. In this enthralling memoir, writer and physicist Leonard Mlodinow tells the story of his friend and their collaboration, offering an intimate account of this giant of science.
The two met in 2003, when Stephen asked Leonard if he would consider writing a book with him, the follow up to the bestselling A Brief History of Time. As they spent years working on a second book, The Grand Design, they forged a deep connection and Leonard gained a much better understanding of Stephen’s daily life and struggles – as well as his compassion and good humour. Together they obsessed over the perfect sentence, debated the physics, and occasionally punted on Cambridge’s waterways with champagne and strawberries. In time, Leonard was able to finish Stephen’s jokes, chide his sporadic mischief, and learn how the hardships of his illness helped forge that unique perspective on the universe.
By weaving together their shared story with a clear-sighted portrayal of Hawking’s scientific achievements, Mlodinow creates a beautiful portrait of Stephen Hawking as a brilliant, impish and generous man whose life was not only exceptional but also genuinely inspiring.*

ON OBFUSCATION AND OPPORTUNISM

296pp, Rs599; HarperCollins
296pp, Rs599; HarperCollins

The author, a former Special Secretary of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), examines a series of interconnected events that led to the rise of the Khalistan movement, Operation Blue Star, the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the anti-Sikh violence unleashed thereafter. With a timeline that moves from seven years before to a decade after 1984, the book strives to answer critical questions that continue to linger till today.
The narrative moves from Punjab to Canada, the US, Europe and Delhi, looking to sift the truth from the political obfuscation and opportunism, examining the role that the ruling party allegedly played, and the heart-rending violence that devoured thousands of innocent lives in its aftermath.*

MAGNIFICENT MINIATURES

252pp, Rs 2500; Niyogi Books
252pp, Rs 2500; Niyogi Books

Court and Courtship: Indian Miniatures in the TAPI Collection is a study of Indian paintings in which the author JP Losty explores the well-trod highways and the lesser-known byways of miniature paintings put together by the well-known textile collectors, Praful and Shilpa Shah.
Starting with a splendid 16th-century painting from the early Rajput Bhagvata Purana, readers will savour the variety of Mughal and other portraits of emperors, princes, courtiers, and of royal elephants and horses. Courtly pictures include several from the Deccan, Rajasthan, Central India, and the northern hills. Resplendent ladies in 18th and 19th-century attire adorn the pages, as do paintings acquired for the textiles and costumes they illustrate – jamas, paijamas, angarkhas, turbans, odhnis, patkas, canopies, and qanats.
Representing the classic texts of Sanskrit and Hindi literature are stunning examples from a 17th-century ragamala, the Shangri Ramayana, the Gita Govinda, Harivamsha, and Rasikapriya. Two of the most impressive paintings ever to come out of Nathdwara are featured here, from the hands of master artists Sukhdev Gaur and Ghasiram Sharma.*

*All copy from press releases

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