A substantial and visually arresting guide to five centuries of Sikh shrines.

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THE SIKH HERITAGE

BEYOND BORDERS

An illustrated history of important sites in Sikh history in Pakistan.

In this oversized, sumptuously illustrated picture book, Pannu takes readers on a comprehensively detailed guide to the shrines and holy places of great figures from the Sikh faith. The book looks at 84 such sites, providing a great deal of information alongside stunning color photos by the author. Pannu searches through the Janamsakhis, the Sikh scriptures, and seeks to “incorporate logic and rationality in their interpretation,” and then supplies readers with images of many of the places mentioned in these and other Sikh writings. The book covers a broad expanse of history, from the days of Sikhism's founder, Guru Nanak, in the late 15th and early 16th centuries to the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947 to the present day, when relations between India and Pakistan remain raw and turbulent. In his introduction, Pannu expresses the hope that his crossing of borders in search of a shared cultural heritage might be a harbinger of the future: “I remain optimistic that a day will eventually dawn when everlasting peace will prevail, and works like this book will prove to be both educative and enlightening.” Over the course of 400-plus pages, the work covers Pakistani sites in Sheikhupura, Kasur, Nanakana Sahib, Narowal, and Lahore. In each chapter, the author pairs historical mentions of the place and shrine at hand with photos of its current appearance, and the juxtapositions between past and present often result in a compelling dissonance.

With a minimum of fuss, Pannu intriguingly deploys quotations from scriptures and historical accounts alongside his photos, which he’s taken over the course of years. The prose tells readers of places sacred to Sikh tradition, featuring locations as sacred to Sikhs as Bethlehem or Gethsemane are to Christians. Yet the excellent photographs very often show dilapidated, sometimes defaced ruins that no passerby would ever guess held greater significance. One example of a lone gurdwara—a type of block-tower that’s ubiquitous throughout the book—is all that remains of the Gurdwara Lahura Sahib in the village of Ghavindi, where Guru Nanak once rested beneath a Lahura tree. Guru Hargobind’s visit to the village of Padhana, as recorded in the Mahima Prakash Vartak, was an occasion for the Sikh holy man to dispense calm wisdom—but Pannu’s photos of the interior views of Gurdwara Patshavi VI display a squalor and decay that even the author, as an optimistic guide, can’t ignore: “The decoration inside the smaller, third-story structure is quite beautiful, despite the aging and deteriorating floral embellishments on the ceiling.” Parked mopeds lean against the chipped and flaking walls of buildings where living saints once shared the peace and insight of the Sikh faith’s central tenets; street lamps and power cables obscure once-glorious gurdwaras from street views. And the juxtaposition is ultimately spellbinding; readers will be able to feel the weight of centuries on these holy places as Pannu shares religious passages that have better weathered the passage of time.

A substantial and visually arresting guide to five centuries of Sikh shrines.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73329-370-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pannu Dental Group

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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