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THE SIEGE by Cathy Scott-Clark


68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel

by Cathy Scott-Clark ; Adrian Levy

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-14-312375-0
Publisher: Penguin

Well-researched account of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, with plenty of firsthand detail.

Starting with a group of 10 young fidayeen fighters approaching Mumbai by water on the night of the attacks, journalists and documentarians Scott-Clark and Levy (The Meadow, 2012, etc.) document everything possible, from the blow-by-blow account of the many hours the hotel was under siege to the recruitment and rigorous training of the Pakistani men who volunteered for jihad, however doubtfully. They even recount the story of the man who scouted targets for Lashkar-e-Toiba and, they believe, was acting as a double agent for the United States at the time. This has the benefit of providing a full, rounded picture and gives helpful background and context, most of which pulls readers deeper into the intrigue. Still, the sheer amount of detail can be overwhelming. Though the main focus is what happened at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, nothing is left out. The authors also recount events at a nearby cafe, a Jewish center, a smaller hotel and elsewhere around town. All the information from those who survived the attacks is compelling and well-written. With more guests present than the other targets, there were many stories to tell, and the authors make palpable the fear and despair of the guests and employees. They also bring attention to the many mistakes made by police and hotel security in the months leading up to the offensive—there were many warnings that such an attack might be coming—and on the ground while it was happening. Important and enlightening, these parts of the book are perhaps more terrifying than the rest. Through it all, though, there are just enough moments to applaud.

A great read that gives readers a better understanding of a terrorist attack from many points of view.