Last Train to Istanbul – by Ayşe Kulin

Last Train to Istanbul – by Ayşe Kulin

                                             Train to Istanbul is the story of the daughters of Fazıl Reşat Paşa, Selva and Sabiha; members of a prominent Muslim Turkish aristocracy. Set in the Second World War, it simultaneously explores the transformation of the Turkish society to a modern one and the descent of humanity to its very basic animalistic else where. Here selva is the rebel, marrying a Jew, Sabina the conformist living the high socialite life, Paşa the father caught between his prejudices and his modern preaching, and as in all stories of the Second World War, Nazi’s are the villains.

                                             The book starts off with a brisk pace, setting stages, characters and their motivations; in short there is so much promise and potential in the first several chapters, it’s almost reminiscent of the great classics. But unfortunately the author shies away at the first sign of a conflict, almost glossing over the very core principles that motivates it’s characters. This pretty much deflates the story, either the author deliberately chose to restrict herself or an editor got it out with a chain saw .

                                             What I found most disappointing in the book is not the story,  but the authors unwillingness to delve deeper into the emotions and motivations of her characters; ofter rendering them to be flat, delusional and plain unreasonable at times. It is quite clear that the author was in some sense in a hurry, especially in the later chapters she rams through the story, wrecking its very basic elements, even to the extend of causing a dramatic escape from the nazi occupied France to feel like like a fun joy ride.

                                             In short, its a good read, light and hearty, but its not the best of Turkish literature, Ayşe Kulin has much promise but the Last Train to Istanbul is not her seminal work by any measure. In Verdict; I give Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin a 2 out 5, there are better books out there to spend you time with.

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A Higher Loyalty – James Comey

A Higher Loyalty – James Comey

“The higher loyalty is to lasting values, most important the truth.” – James Comey

                                    These words by James Comey, which comes half way through the book are what the essence of the book is supposed to be. The tell-all expose of the controversial, former Director of the FBI, is the detailed narration of various ethical dilemmas; he addressed during his life-time and his process of resolving them. The content of the book can be quite simple be summarized as a footnote to the absolutely crazy election of Donald trump and the antics of his administration there-after. Lets be honest there is no need for an exposé on the current administration, they do that aplenty themselves.

                                    James Comey has done irreparable damage to the institution he headed, being called a hack to a tool to being absolutely clueless at times, intervening inadvertently in the 2016 Presidential Election (if the book is to be believed) and leaving the reputation of the FBI in tatters. His one saving grace turned out to be the president himself; who managed to make mismanagement so commonplace that Comey’s charades were but on in a parade of many exuberant ones. His handling of some of the most critical investigations were questionable at the most generous, including Clinton’s emails, Wiener’s wiener and of-course the beloved pee-pee tapes and dossiers.

                                    Keeping this in mind, it is quiet easy to spot the real purpose of this book, rather than an overwhelming urge to expose the truths behind the curtains of power, the book’s purpose is the redemption of its authors reputation and credibility. The contents are a series of apologies and explanations mashed together incoherently to form a semblance of integrity. There is no higher loyalty here, the book is no leadership manual, there is hardly any situation put forward were the founding principles laid forth in the initial pages are deliberated, nor of labored nuanced decisions made. May be its the bits lost due to series of edits and cut courtesy of the intelligence agencies or it is the authors own constraints that leaves this book devoid of content and render it as mere hogwash.

                                    In conclusion; If you have been exposed to the torrent of news, you are already well informed of everything that Comey talks about, all you are missing is him trying an angle on it. I give A Higher Loyalty by James Comey a 2 out of 5.

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The Future of Humanity: Michio Kaku

The Future of Humanity: Michio Kaku

This book by the renowned physicist and science aficionado Dr Michio Kaku is a anthology of all that is latest and greatest in science right now. He explores the future of humanity in the decades and centuries to come,  He explains how the current technology will evolve and how that evolution will transform our species from a single planetary civilization to a multi planetary one and then onto being a true galactic civilization; living and thriving among the stars.

His book starts with the revival of space race in modern times, The race to colonize mars and how far humanity is from achieving that objective. He proceeds to explain in scientific terms where humanity is as a civilization and what it should become to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs; an insurance policy of sorts. From there on he moves deeper into the physics of inter planetary travel; slowly increasing the complexity of topics being tackled. He proceeds to the  colonization of our solar system and later to the star systems nearby; going over the progression of humanity in great detail.

Eventually reaching the realm of the abstract and science fiction. He starts speaking about the Unified field theory aka the The theory of everything, Time travel, wormholes, structure and existence of multiverses and so on.

To a nerd, this books offers little; at-most it is a reminder of that is great and wonderful in the world. Who the book really serves is the uninitiated, the many sophomore dork who can gain insight and be inspired by the world carefully laid out by Michio Kaku. This book like its author is a great advert for the future of humanity.

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What price are we willing to pay?

What price are we willing to pay?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

– Martin Niemöller

                       There is a reason that today I start with the profound lines of Martin Niemöller, In a world divided on any number of lines, devoid of any nuance, where the shades of grey are all but gone. Where we kid ourselves, sitting in our comfort zone, with utmost an lackadaisical shrug, when we impart gravitas to the grave miscarriages of justice that happen right in front of our very eyes.

                       Everyday we stand not with our crucified brethren, in their excruciating despair is yet another day we move closer to the inadvertent breaching of our very own social fortresses. Echoing the words of Martin, Who will fight along us tomorrow when we excuse ourself from fighting for the besieged, who will be left to fight along us?

                       It is disheartening to think that in this age of readily and freely available information, we stand as a species more vapid and ignorant; refusing to learn from our mistakes, even the most recent of ones. Today the very grandsons of soldiers who fought in Europe to liberate it from fascism can be found embracing the very absolutist ideology that was defeated with much bloodshed. It bequeaths great shame on those heroes who lay waste their potential for an ungrateful tomorrow.

                       How is it that we are today in golden age of human ingenuity gold fishes; needing to lose and regain freedom; to have to fight the very same fights again and again against the very same foe. Only for as much as to appreciate what is already there. How is that today the great pillars of our society that stood the tests of millennia so scalded and emancipated that they require the round the clock protection from self-righteous peanut-brained zombies of vigilantes.

                       As the clock ticks close to Ragnarok and as the giant abyss of chaos become ever the more omniscient, it is the right time if ever to remember Martin Niemöller and his wise words. Today we must stand aware and awake; alert to the many threads that coming knocks; ever ready to take arms to defend the freedom that we have won at great cost. To make the last stand for our brethren when called upon.Her

 

 

Note : Thanks dad, for all the words you have ever said to me the poem of Martin Niemöller were the most profound.

 

Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami

                                  Men without women is a collection short stories of, lets face it men without women. They revolve around the lives of men who has been left out without women; some willingly chose it and some by the hand of fate. What is common among them are the fact that they all eventually lose their women and as Murakami finally concludes “When you have lost one women, you have lost them all”; they lose it all.

                                  These are stories that are daunting and that linger on after the first read; some even demand a greater look and some leave a lingering sense of incompletion. For most part no story here is complete; the author demands of us the effort to conclude them and that is ofter frustrating as many of  these stories demand and extract an emotional connect.

                                 Of the half dozen stories here, a few stood out to me as a reader here. “Drive my car” the first of the stories revolves around a actor who hires a female driver to chauffeur him around and confides in her the tragic marriage of his and his friendship with his wife’s suitor after her death. “Scheherazade” which depicts one day of a man and his married mistress, and the subtle yet lovely exchange between them one day (This one left me wanting more).

                                  Murakami has a way of extracting different emotions of different people and that has always ended up dividing his readers quite deeply in factions; and these stories are no different, some scream misogyny and some see beauty.

Verdict : These stories and nevertheless beautifully crafted and eases the reader through the pages and elicits deep emotions. deciphering Murakami is a profession and that for another man to take up, for me they are beautiful and lovely.

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The Golden House – Salman Rushdie

The Golden House – Salman Rushdie

                        Disappointed, thats is the short and long of it. Coming from Salman Rushdie,  The author of  books like Haroun and the Sea of Stories and The Midnights children, The Golden house was expected to excite and entice; it was as his books before expected to be a delight to read and unfortunately the opposite seems to be true. This book required an laborious effort to consume and an undue tenacity to finish. I believe like  all Salman was compelled to comment on the current socio-political state of affairs both home and abroad, but this books in hindsight appears to be a bad outlet for such a social commentary. A short concise series of editorials would have served a better purpose. Unfortunately this is what Slaman chose and I feel this attempt has failed both as a book and as a social commentary (coming from a lesser author may be an argument can be made but not from The Salman Rushdie).

 

                        The Golden house is the story of Nero Golden and his children seen through the eyes of René, an young film maker, set in a an exclusive private garden in lower Manhattan. The goldens are altruistic people with pretentious roman names, eccentric in their own way and always running from something or the other, a dark past, some shady business, sexuality and often life and truth itself. The characters are eccentric in an half -hearted attempt at mimicking the flamboyance of The Great Gatsby but as a recurring theme in this book; failing (if not miserably, then convincingly so).

               There are some genuine spaces when Rushdie comes on to being his old self, when words start flowing with a forgotten vigor, when prose tends to be poetic and beautiful more so. But as mirages in a hot midday desert, they are fleeting and ephemeral.

Verdict : If this is your first foray into Rushdie’s works I suggest you start elsewhere, if not then I suggest elsewhere as well. You lose nothing by not reading this book and if you dont read the Rushdie you know and love would shine a bit brighter.

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Bernie Sanders : Our Revolution

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It is not often that a book review becomes more a review of the author than the book itself; albeit they overlap nonetheless to a certain extend. Bernie is a man who needs no introductions any more; little over an year ago that was hardly the case. Over an year and a half ago when he was just the obscure senator from Vermont this was hardly true. This book chronicles the remarkable journey of Bernie Sanders and the astonishing rise of democratic socialism in a capitalistic United States.

In this book, Bernie in his own unmistakable words takes the reader through the 2016 Presidential primary and its numerous turning points. He explains how he broke out o f his own obscurity in the wider public space and into the icon that he is today. It covers everything, his intends, his motivations, his rallies, town-halls, the battles lost the victories won and above all else his convictions. Our revolution offers less to the sanders fan than the general public; to the uninitiated the book is very much a great window into the world of democratic socialism.

As an external observer, some one not from the States, Bernie and what he stands for is not as revolutionary as it appears to the Americans, universal health care and free education are hallmark of most progressive regimes. This doesn’t undermine his effort to redeem his nation and bring it to the forefront of human development.

In short this is a book that is not necessarily a must read for all but is nevertheless a good book that offers a brief glimpse into the rot in the United States political system.

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Rated : 3 of 5.