Nov 14, 2019

Review: The Murder on the Links

The Murder on the Links The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My brother used to read Agatha Christie books often when he was studying for medicine. That was the first time I heard about the author. Even though he had recommended reading I was not interested.

So many years have gone, I saw this book in Prime reading and choose to read. I was hooked to her writing style, the twist is unexpected and I will soon follow reading Hercule Poirot adventures.


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Nov 2, 2019

Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From

The author has brilliantly summarized the findings of ancient DNA in this book. Though I had Genetics in my college years, I did not find difficulty in the genetical terms. The author Tony Joseph has taken much pain in explaining the basic concept of genetics. 




The book looks into how and when modern humans, or Homo sapiens, first arrived in India, what evidence they left behind for us to see, who their descendants are today, who else followed them as migrants to this land of ours, how and when we started farming and building the world's largest civilization of its time. And also he has explained why this civilization declined and what followed after.

The evidence from prehistory is better known and understood by us is through the archaeological excavations, objects made by ancient people, fossils and the DNA of the individuals who were ancient and who are now living.

The author also pointed out why he had published this book. Tony Joseph was fascinated by the Harappan Civilization and the questions left behind by them, what happened to the people who built the largest civilization of the time and where did they go? The book was substantiated by the facts provided by David Reich, Vagheesh Narasimhan, K.Thangaraj, Lalji Singh, etc.

The author has provided the groundwork needed for us in understanding the basics of genetics, mutation of genes, haplogroups, mtDNA and Y - chromosome, the climatic conditions that have prevailed during the study period.

65,000 years ago, Out of Africa migrants entered India, there they found strong competition between archaic humans who were living previously. The migrants endured and they were termed as the First Indians. By 4700 BCE or so, Iranian agriculturists from the Zagros region intermingled with first Indians who then went on to create the Harappan Civilization. The people of Harappan civilization is a mix of the descendants of the First Indians and the Iranian agriculturist migrants.

The author has allotted one entire chapter to the Indus Valley Civilization which he calls "The Harappan Civilization". He also points out the language of the Harappan people is Dravidian, he also provides facts given by David W. McAlpin from his book "Proto Elamo -Dravidian', the similarities between Elamite language and Tamil such as 'umi' (chaff), "ellu' (sesame), 'ni' (you), 'kattil' (cot or throne).

(Image from Harappa.com)

 
In chapter four the author touches the controversial subject of Aryan migration. It is been clearly proved beyond doubt by DNA analysis that people from Steppe who dominated Europe entered India during 2000 BCE or 1900 BCE, by this time only they find evidence of their particular Y- chromosome (R1a-Z93) which came from the Eurasian Steppe region.

A remarkable book, an eye-opener and a detailed study on the DNA of ancient Indians. This book made me purchase another book titled "Who We Are And How We Got Here" by David Reich.

Oct 9, 2019

Operation Copperhead Chapter 1

Copperhead - adventure, drama, secret, even a dash of romance.

I thank Net Galley and Europe Comics for providing me with a copy for review. The graphic novel Operation Copperhead Chapter 1 is by Jean Harambat who is the author and also the Illustrator. The story is that a girl serving tea in the set of Death on the Nile, asks Niven and Ustinov, how long they know each other. And Peter Ustinov tells her that, they were known to each other since Copperhead. And the girl questions them about what is the meaning of Copperhead? Both Niven and Ustinov elaborate the story.


In actual life, Niven and Ustinov served the British Army. Ustinov as private later Batman to Niven, while he was working with Army Film and photographic unit for the morale-building film. Niven had a minor part in the deception operation. The graphic novel is based on this fact of these two actors.

The story is told in flashbacks and the author has intelligently used anecdotes from biographies of Niven (The Moon's a Balloon) and Ustinov (Dear Me), blurring the fiction. Another example is the private talk of Niven with Winston Churchill.

The artwork is not bad in some frames it is outstanding. I had difficulty in reading some frames as the font is thin and narrow.


Sep 25, 2019

Review: Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm Eye of the Storm by Jack Higgins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another superb thriller by Jack Higgins. The author has created alternate history involving bombing of No.10, Downing Street. A cat and mouse game between Sean Dillion and Martin Brosnan and cameo of Liam Devlin.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

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Sep 19, 2019

Review: One Day Wonders

One Day Wonders One Day Wonders by Sunil Gavaskar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A superb book on the Benson and Hedges World Cup 1985 held in Australia and Rothmans Cup in Sharjah. A detailed account from the Ace opener Sunil Gavaskar on his captainship, Indian batting and bowling especially Srikanth, Kapildev and spin legend Sivaramakrishnan.

A must book for cricket fans.

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Sep 14, 2019

Review: Sita - Tamil

Sita - Tamil Sita - Tamil by Amish Tripathi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My brother told me about Amish Tripathi and the books he had written. Keeping that in mind I choose the book 2 of The Ram Chandra series. The characterisation and the management of Lord Ram explained by my teacher Mathi Srinivasan in my college days also piqued my interest to read this book. But I was very much disappointed that Sita is depicted as a warrior and the adventures of her look like water down version of Lara Croft - Tomb Raider.

In the story, Hanuman teaches Sita about martial arts! Hanuman has been known to her before Lankan episode looks ridiculous enough that made me stop reading the book.

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Sep 3, 2019

Ashoka: the Search for India's Lost Emperor - Review

Charles Allen one of the great chroniclers of India, a traveller, and a historian his book Ashoka The Search for India's Lost Emperor is a discovery of the Great Indian King who patronised Buddhism and showed religious tolerance.

The above book has 16 chapters, The Breaking of Idols, The Golden Column of Firoz Shah, Objects of Enquiry, Enter Alexander, Furious Orientalists, The Long Shadow of Horace Hayman Wilson, Prinsep's Ghat, Thus Spake King Piyadasi, Brian Hodgson's Gift, Records of the Western Regions, Alexander Cunningham the Great, Sir Alexander is Excelsis, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, India after Cunningham, Ashoka in the Twentieth Century and The Rise and Fall of Ashokadharma.

This book is not about the life history of Ashoka, as many may feel, it is about how the great king and his work once again brought to the general public.

The entrance of British colonial rule in India paved the way in finding out the lost and forgotten period of ancient India. The laborious work carried out by John Marshall (1670), Jesuit priest Joseph Tiefenthaler (during the 1750s), jurist, scholar, philologist and a child prodigy able to speak fluently in thirteen languages William 'Oriental' Jones (1770s), James Prinsep (1830s) followed by Alexander Cunningham and John Marshall the man behind the discovery of Indus Valley Civilization and finally the Asiatic Society re-discovered Ashoka.

Not only the above mentioned the early writings such as Vishnu Purana, Mahavamsa and the travel accounts of Xuangzang helped to shed light on the subject. 


Click the above image to enlarge.

The book further delves into how the Brahmi script was deciphered, the findings of Rock Edicts, Pillar Edicts and stupas. The author also gives us the facts about the burning down the Buddhist library by a warlord Muhammed Bakhtiyar, removal of the golden pillar by Firoz Shah, the brahmans who tried to suppress the records and some kings after the Mauryan dynasty defaced most of the structures erected by King Ashoka. 

The above image shows King Ashoka faints on seeing the condition of Bodhi Tree. Click the above image to enlarge. The images are from Wikipedia.


The general consensus on the date of Ashoka.
(1) 302 BCE - Birth of Ashoka.
(2) 285 BCE - Birth of Ashoka's eldest son Mahinda
(3) 282 BCE - Birth of Ashoka's eldest daughter Sangamitta.
(4) 274 BCE - Death of Bindusara.
(5) 270 BCE - Ashoka anointed as the King by the help of Chanakya's grandson.
(6) 265 BCE - Ashoka's conversion to lay Buddhist.
(7) 261 BCE - Conquest of Kalinga.
(8) 260 BCE - Ashoka issues first Minor Rock Edicts and also starts his stupa building programme.
(9) 259 BCE - Ashoka issues Kalinga Rock Edicts.
(10) 253 BCE - Ashoka inaugurates Third Buddhist council.
(11) 252 BCE - Ashoka sends his eldest son Mahinda to Lanka to institute missionary programmes.
(12) 243 to 242 BCE - Ashoka issues Pillar Edicts.
(13) 240 BCE - King Ashoka celebrates the five-year festival.
(14) 239 BCE - Death of Ashoka's Queen.
(15) 235 BCE - Ashoka's marries Tishyarakshita. And also Ashoka celebrates the five-year festival.
(16) 234 BCE - Queen Tishyarkshita leads Anti-Buddhist faction and is executed. Followed by Ashoka's grandson and son of Kunala, Samprati becomes the heir apparent.
(17) 233 BCE - King Ashoka dies in Cock Monastery.

The Rock and Pillar edicts of King Ashoka is given as an appendix. The narration in the book takes us to the 3rd century BCE, for the past one month I have been living in that century, enjoying every page of the book. A collectors edition for history buffs especially Indian history.

Aug 6, 2019

Review: The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is the compilation of seven lectures given by Stephen Hawking. The first lecture is the outline of history of the universe from the big bang to black holes. He briefly describes the previous ideas about the universe.

The second lecture he describes theories of gravity of Newton and Einstein that the universe is either expanding or contracting but not be static. A detailed explanation of the big bang in layman's language finds place in the lecture.

The 3rd lecture the author talks about black holes. How a black hole is formed and some information on the singularity and quantum mechanics.

The 4th lecture is about black holes are not black holes and elaborates on the quantum mechanics of energy leaking out of black holes.

In the 5th lecture the author applies his quantum mechanical ideas to the big bang and the origin of the universe, and he proposes that the space-time is finite and its extent is without boundary. (Needs second time reading to understand).

In the 6th lecture he questions why the laws of physics is time symmetric and why the past is so different from the future. I find it little bit difficult to grasp at first. If some one posts a video for this principle it will be much appreciated.

In the 7th and final lecture is about the most famed Unified Theory. He closes that lecture with an optimistic view of science which I quote below.

"However, if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all be able to take part in the discussion of why the universe exists. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason. For then we would know the mind of God."


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Jul 16, 2019

Celtic Empire - Clive Cussler

One of my favourite hero "Dirk Pitt" latest adventure "Celtic Empire" wirtten by Clive has been released couple of weeks back. Below is the blurb.
 
Clive Cussler, "The Grand Master of Adventure," sends his intrepid heroes Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino on their wildest, boldest mission into the ancient world, unlocking extraordinary secrets and solving hideous crimes. Another fabulous read from the most beloved series from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.
 


The murders of a team of United Nations scientists in El Salvador. . . A deadly collision in the waterways off the city of Detroit. . . An attack by tomb raiders on an archaeological site along the banks of the Nile. . . Is there a link between these violent events? The answer may lie in the tale of an Egyptian princess forced to flee the armies of her father three thousand years ago.

During what was supposed to be a routine investigation in South America, NUMA Director Dirk Pitt finds himself embroiled in an international mystery, one that will lead him across the world and which will threaten everyone and everything he knows--most importantly, his own family. Pitt travels to Scotland in search of answers about the spread of an unknown disease and the shadowy bio remediation company that may be behind it. Meanwhile, his son and daughter face a threat of their own when the discoveries they have made in an Egyptian tomb put killers on their trail. These seemingly unrelated riddles come together in a stunning showdown on the rocky isles of Ireland, where only the Pitts can unravel the secrets of an ancient enigma that could change the very future of mankind.

May 14, 2019

Review: The Critical Years Of An Immortal Legend

The Critical Years Of An Immortal Legend The Critical Years Of An Immortal Legend by Dr. H.V.Hande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tear jerker book on three-month critical period of MGR life in 1984. This book is a treasure trove of information pertaining to the treatment given to MGR in India and abroad.

I was little astonished that how MGR's doctor did not took any steps from September 15th to October 4th on health issues that have arised during the function in Thanjavur, Dr. Hande has clearly stated that in the blood test the creatinine Puratchi Thalaivar MGR blood on September 15th. In medical terms the urine should have high level of creatinine and blood should have low level, it means the kidney is not functioning properly, it was a clear message that MGR's doctor should have checked his kidneys, unfortunately nothing was done.

This book can be developed into a wed series so much info packed nicely. The author who was also the Health Minister in MGR's cabinet his role on timely intervention of assembling not only doctors but also engineers who gave crucial advice of how to make air travel of MGR safely are neatly given.

MGR fans will shed tears in couple of chapters for sure. In two chapters my eyes welled up and I was not able to continue my read.

The help MGR has given to many took shape in helping him back when the situation was worse. Timely diagnostic help of Dr. Kanu from Japan his episode of single passenger flight through Singapore airlines, which I already know during my IATA studies are worth to mention.

In all Dr. Hande has beautifully recorded the extraordinary come back of the legendary MGR from his illness. A collector's edition, a must book for MGR fans.


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Review: புரட்சி தலைவர் எம். ஜி.ஆர். மறுபிறவியெடுத்த வரலாறு

புரட்சி தலைவர் எம். ஜி.ஆர். மறுபிறவியெடுத்த வரலாறு புரட்சி தலைவர் எம். ஜி.ஆர். மறுபிறவியெடுத்த வரலாறு by டாக்டர் எச் வி ஹண்டே
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tear jerker book on three-month critical period of MGR life in 1984. This book is a treasure trove of information pertaining to the treatment given to MGR in India and abroad.

I was little astonished that how MGR's doctor did not took any steps from September 15th to October 4th on health issues that have arised during the function in Thanjavur, Dr. Hande has clearly stated that in the blood test the creatinine Puratchi Thalaivar MGR blood on September 15th. In medical terms the urine should have high level of creatinine and blood should have low level, it means the kidney is not functioning properly, it was a clear message that MGR's doctor should have checked his kidneys, unfortunately nothing was done.

This book can be developed into a wed series so much info packed nicely. The author who was also the Health Minister in MGR's cabinet his role on timely intervention of assembling not only doctors but also engineers who gave crucial advice of how to make air travel of MGR safely are neatly given.

MGR fans will shed tears in couple of chapters for sure. In two chapters my eyes welled up and I was not able to continue my read.

The help MGR has given to many took shape in helping him back when the situation was worse. Timely diagnostic help of Dr. Kanu from Japan his episode of single passenger flight through Singapore airlines, which I already know during my IATA studies are worth to mention.

In all Dr. Hande has beautifully recorded the extraordinary come back of the legendary MGR from his illness. A collector's edition, a must book for MGR fans.


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Apr 17, 2019

Review: Vivek, Vishnu, Oru Vidukadhai

Vivek, Vishnu, Oru Vidukadhai Vivek, Vishnu, Oru Vidukadhai by Rajesh Kumar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As usual stuff, very interesting plot line. Nearly after 30 years I am reading Rajesh Kumar novels, thanks to Amazon prime.

The protagonist Vivek takes up the murder case of D.I.G. Palraj and I.A.S. Officer Ravinder by snake bite. Same time he receives sms from the killer which fuels the plot line, the real killer is revealed in the climax. An interesting read.

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Mar 27, 2019

Review: Famous Assassinations

Famous Assassinations Famous Assassinations by Sarah Herman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Net galley for providing me a with a copy of Famous Assassinations by the author Sarah Herman.

The author provides information of some of the assassinations of most notable figures in history. Some we know and most we don't.

The author Sarah Herman has categorised killings of notoriety from earliest written records to the present, she also given backstory for the assassinations.

The common and mostly known by us are the killing of Emperors/kings to make room for others to the throne, murdering religious leaders for political mileage. But in this book we will find many unknown instances which has the same base.

The book is pretty neat in providing overview and this will help people who needed further study can use this as a spring board.


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Feb 17, 2019

Review: Kumarikandama Sumeriama?

Kumarikandama Sumeriama? Kumarikandama Sumeriama? by P.Prabhakaran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author have given out some facts that could relate that the people of Sumeria are proto Dravidians and some of the Sumerians settled in Dilmun which is termed as a heaven in Sumerian cuneiforms. The author Prabhakaran say that the city Dilmun is Tamil Nadu or South India. The book made me to buy other books related to this topic of human evolution and also about Indus Valley Civilization.

The author has substantiated some facts that there is no submerged country Lemuria which is believed to have existed and was near Kanyakumari. As there is no archaeological evidence till date to disprove his idea. He has given some examples of names from Sumeria and I found other similar words to early Tamil and one such is a place called Mari.

As per the research the first homo sapiens born in East Africa and they started to migrate to other places, and homo sapiens took the seashore route to reach other countries and as such humans came to South India not earlier than 80,000 years before that is earlier than any other civilization. How could we say that Sumerians came to South India as first with their superior culture

A good book to start for those having much interest in Archaeology and human evolution.

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Jan 18, 2019

Alaskan Storm–Book Review

I was awestruck by the authors narration of action scenes. Ananthsimha's writing is joy to read, The novel has 134 pages can be read in one sitting but I feel reading it slowly might help us to go through the intense action he has put down on the paper.



It's a trilogy and the author has kept us waiting to read and anticipate what will be in the sequel. The subject the author has chosen is some what real and I have had a little chat with him on that subject.
The author who is now in early 20s has a bright future in writing action novels, his knowledge about the weapons, types of vehicles used in combat and terminologies are awesome.

Kudos Ananthsimha for your success in your first novel. 

Jan 6, 2019

Chennai Book Exhibition

Yesterday I went to the Book exhibition, it had 852 stalls nearly half for Tamil language. I spent two and half hours and purchased five books and two comics.

books

Click the above image to enlarge

I added another three Clive Cussler books of to my library.

(1) The Sea Hunters (Non Fiction) took me 2 years to get hold of this book.

(2) Treasure of Khan – A Dirk Pitt novel (my favourite hero)

(3) The Tombs (A Fargo Adventure)


Jack Higgins

The Eagle Has Flown –spectacular sequel to the The Eagle Has Landed.


Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind

Jan 2, 2019

The Grey Ghost

10 The Gray Ghost

March 1906, Rolls-Royce Limited had put all their money, and that of their investors into this improved six cylinder engine. Every last penny had gone into the design of that, as well as a chassis meant to withstand the harsh country roads. When the world seemed to laugh at them, saying it couldn't be done, they'd persevered. And now they were on the verge of accomplishing the impossible.

ahrens_fox

Clive Cussler sitting on the Ahrens Fox Pumper Fire Engine.

Did they, yes they did and the car named Grey Ghost was stolen by one of his employees. Detective Isaac Bell finds out the stolen legendary car. After some decades the owner of Grey Ghost now tries to sell the car and again the car vanishes and the theft was blamed on Albert Payton. Sam and Remi Fargo's who are related to the Paytons take up the case and finds out the Grey Ghost and a hidden treasure.

fox

fox2

fox3

(Ahrens Fox Pumper Fire Engine photo courtesy by Walter Winterburn, Admin of Clive Cussler Collector’s Society)

A different kind of adventure story with family sentiments. The novel has a love story of Jonathan Payton and Miss Lydia Atwater which comes in way of journal, an interesting and creative way of storytelling used by the author.

The book too has a hostage situation and how cleverly the Fargo's handle.

The adventures of Fargo's are top notch, the escapades are many and I liked their break out from a burning warehouse using Ahrens Fox pumper fire engine (the one shown in the book cover). The couple faces all kinds of hurdles even their accounts get frozen, their movement restricted and overcoming these dire situations are thrilling to read.

I want to quote one instance involving Remi and an annoying lady in the ticket counter.

Train to Calais was set to leave than five minutes. The woman in front of her was at the window, busy asking questions about what to do with her luggage once she was on the train.

Remi watched the clock ticking. Worried, she leaned forward and said, "About how much longer will you be? I'm about to miss my train."

The woman looked back at her, an annoyed expression on her face. "If you don't mind, it is my turn."

I apologize, Remi said, clasping her hands together. I just found out my father's been taken to the hospital. He might not make it.

The woman appeared unmoved.

"And his dog is locked in the house with no one to take care of him."

Why didn't you say so? The woman moved aside, allowing Remi to pass.

After buying the ticket, the lady says "I hope your dog is okay!"
(Some people attitude is always the same)


Kudos Mr.Cussler and Robin Burcell for succeeding in making yet another action, adventure reading for the fans.

My rating:

177042407