Book Review

I have never been a big fan of the IAS i.e. Indian Administrative Service system. Despite the godly reputation associated with the people who qualify through the very tough selection system. This book provides an insider view of the bureaucratic system of India, where does it falter and much more. You actually get to know a lot more than merely what the book title suggests.

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I came across this popular talk of the author in YouTube and was impressed by it. You can check it here:
https://youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE&t=568s
I decided to buy the book to uncover more about what the author was saying. I have to say that the book does not offer much over what is already explained in the video. Yes there is expansion of the ideas and more text but to me it seemed like extra padding to make it a book.

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This book written in 1853 is a classic. During this period slavery was legal in southern states of the USA. Slaves were bought and sold like cattle. In northern states however the colored people could live freely as slavery was not practiced. During these times freed colored people from the north were kidnapped into the south and sold as slaves. The author of this book suffered this fate and spent 12 years as a slave in southern plantations.

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Ton of information and a lot of research. Few things I have did not like are: 1)I did not like the way it is organized. Sometimes there are sudden changes in narrative, you feel like you are reading a different book. 2) Somehow I found the last part a bit boring, it seems like the concluding part could have been a bit more elaborate. But overall it is a very good book for anyone interested in this topic.

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I came across the name Elizabeth Holmes in 2018 when her company “Theranos” was shut down. Did not know much about this company until that time, perhaps because they were yet to actually deliver something big. The more I began to read about it the more it got me interested. This book is written by an investigative journalist John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal, who began questioning the technology and practices used by Theranos in 2015, which led the company once valued at 9 billion USD to go bankrupt and eventually be shut. Holmes and Sunny Balwani, the number two executive are scheduled to face trial in July 2020 on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They may face up to 20 years jail time.

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I was particularly interested to read this book after I came across a news article somewhere about the falsity of ISRO spy case of 1994 and the investigation debacle by IB. The author Nambi Narayan was a prominent ISRO scientist with at least two major contributions of Indian space science.
1. Making India’s first liquid propulsion engine VIKAS with French SEP collaboration that is part of ISRO’s workhorse PSLV rocket.
2. Striking a deal with Soviet/Russia in getting seven cryogenic engines for India.
In November 1994 he and five others were accused of selling India’s space secrets to Pakistan through the help of Glavkosmos of Russia. In May 1996, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ernakulam accepted the CBI report discharging all the accused and proclaiming the ISRO espionage case as false. After that he has continued fighting legally with the state government, police and IB for the injustices done. Last year he received a compensation of INR 50 lakh (5 million) from the state government. The book travels to and forth in time covering author’s autobiography, ISRO’s journey and the spy case.

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Through this book the author takes us through the life of ten personalities that he thinks are significant in the story of globalization. They are Genghis Khan, Prince Henry, Robert Clive, Cyrus Field, Mayer Rothschild, John D. Rockefeller, Margaret Thatcher, Jean Monnet, Xiaoping Deng and Andrew Grove. The book is filled with information about these characters and the world at that time. I had read about some of these characters but I was not aware of Cyrus Field, Mayer Rothschild, Jean Monnet or Xiaoping Deng. However the spirit in which the book is written i.e. globalization, in my opinion it was only Cyrus Field and Jean Monnet who were aware of the effect their work will have on the future world.

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I had bought this book to read on a flight simply because it was marked as a bestseller in an airport shop. It will be always a memory in a journey which was otherwise horrible. The author is Mark Manson, a star blogger. He sees a problem in people trying to be positive or happy always. Human beings generate true pleasure for themselves by solving meaningful problems, so pursuing a life without problems is a contradiction. Another fact is everyone is NOT special, if it was the case then nobody will be special. So striving to become special as a life goal is a terrible idea.

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After “Nineteen Eighty Four”, this is the second book by George Orwell that I read. Where as 1984 focused on state of affairs inside country that has become an oligarchy this book focuses on how well meaning revolutions are taken over by dictatorships. Another contrast is Animal Farm feels more satirical as most characters are symbolic where as 1984 feels more real as it is about people in (exaggerated) dictatorial communist country. Where as “1984” is more descriptive about the events “Animal Farm” leaves a lot on the reader to think about.

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