As comprehensive and knowledgeable as Hiro’s earlier Inside India Today (1977; reissued 2013).

THE AGE OF ASPIRATION

POWER, WEALTH, AND CONFLICT IN GLOBALIZING INDIA

An insider’s economic report on the perils and scandals of India’s precipitous drive into a market economy over the last decades.

Since 1991, India’s New Industrial Policy—reducing the “license raj” and encouraging private companies in banking, insurance, telecommunications, and air travel—has enriched many and impoverished many in the world’s largest democracy. London-based author Hiro (A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Middle East, 2013, etc.) looks at the impact of globalization both on villagers and on the institutions involved, thus encompassing both the small and big pictures. Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, has led with the neoliberal pro-investment “Gujarat Model,” since 2001, despite being darkly tarnished by the spate of anti-Muslim violence that broke out in Godhra, North Gujarat, in 2002. Running on the slogan “India Shining,” the BJP underscored a new era of “illicit gains” by politicians and the “exponential growth in sleaze, which was related to the acceleration in deregulation and privatization.” Recently rehabilitated, Modi trounced the traditional Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of the Congress Party in 2014, ensuring a continued policy of swadeshi, or self-reliance, regarding the global economy, becoming the darling of the United States and feeding the deep chasm between the haves and have-nots. Hiro pointedly explores the miraculous growth of the satellite town of Gurgaon—at least in terms of land and property values, as it still lacks in basic public services and infrastructure (the sad but all-too-familiar “Dickensian underbelly” that is the byproduct of globalization). In subsequent chapters, Hiro examines India’s need for massive loans from Western banks, encapsulated in the Tata Group story; the incredibly powerful Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley; the “scandalous neglect of India’s agriculture”; the rise of slums; and the continued role of the Maoist Naxalites and the grass-roots efforts to combat corruption.

As comprehensive and knowledgeable as Hiro’s earlier Inside India Today (1977; reissued 2013).

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62097-130-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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