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HT Picks: This Week’s Interesting Reads

A political novel, contemporary stories from Tibet, and an expose by a nuclear planner all feature on this week’s reading list

books Updated: Feb 09, 2018 18:52 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Tibet,political thriller,nuclear war
This week’s picks include a collection of short stories, a past paced novel, and a chilling ‘memoir’. (HT Team)

RACE COURSE ROAD BY SEEMA GOSWAMI

Set largely in the Prime Minister’s official residence, the Race Course Road complex, Race Course Road revolves around the aftermath of the assassination of a sitting Prime Minister and the battle for succession that ensues within his family, with the elder son and heir, Karan Pratap Singh, trying to fight off the challenge presented by his charismatic half sister, Asha Devi.

As the search for the murderer continues, sex scandals surface, revelations about dodgy arms deals rock India, and rival TV anchors shout and spar even as the country undertakes one of its most bitterly contested general elections ever.

Who will get to live in Race Course Road once the votes have been counted? Who will get to rule India for the next five years? Who will be the new Prime Minister of India? Read the ultimate insider’s political thriller to find out.

OLD DEMONS NEW DEITIES EDITED BY TENZIN DICKIE

Split between political occupation and exile, scattered across continents, languages, new professions and lifestyles, what common self can Tibetans muster today? With its appetite for and attentiveness to experience, Old Demons New Deities disarms the question. Tenuous belonging is the theme of choice in these stories, explored with warmth and style, worldly wisdom and sly humor. Choosing not to lean on the armature of nationalist cant or religious tradition, they embrace human variety and desire, the animating principle of the imagination. This is what makes the future viable, for the world at large no less than Tibet.

THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE BY DANIEL ELLSBERG

One day in the spring of 1961, soon after my thirtieth birthday, I was shown how our world would end... What I was handed, in a White House office, was a single sheet of paper with a simple graph on it. It was headed ‘Top Secret - Sensitive’. Under that was ‘For the President’s Eyes Only’.

From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon papers, the first insider expose of the awful dangers of America’s hidden, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that is chillingly still extant.

At the same time that former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a cache of top-secret documents related to America’s nuclear program in the 1960s. Here for the first time he reveals the contents of those now-declassified documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg’s hair-raising eyewitness account of the most dangerous arms build-up in the history of civilisation, whose legacy - and proposed renewal under the Trump administration - threatens the very survival of humanity. It is scarcely possible to estimate the true dangers of our present nuclear policies without penetrating the secret realities of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, when Ellsberg had high-level access to them. No other insider has written as candidly of that long-classified history, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Ellsberg’s discussion of recent research on nuclear winter shows that even a ‘small’ nuclear exchange would cause billions of deaths by global nuclear famine.

Watch: #Bookstack that features the week’s most interesting reads

Framed as a memoir - a chronicle of madness in which cEllsberg acknowledges participating - this gripping expose reads like a thriller with cloak-and-dagger intrigue, returning him to his role as whilstle-blower. It is a real-life Dr Strangelove story, but an ultimately hopeful - and powerfully important - book.

First Published: Feb 09, 2018 17:58 IST