I have never reviewed a book in my blog but I suppose that there had to be a first at some point of time and what better book to review than this one.
A friend who is a retired Indian Air Force officer had reviewed this book for his select group of friends in his mailing list and I quote from that review. “……..the enigmatic smile, the charismatic face of VK, got to me again. I threw down xxxxxx and picked up VK. For two days I did not go to work and read the book in two straight sittings, till past midnight. After reading even the Index, till the back cover, I just put the book down. ‘Courage & Conviction’, is echoing in my mind, resonating between my ears. It is an ‘un-put-down-able’ book.”
This friend is a phlegmatic no nonsense kind of a practical businessman who is incapable of hyperbole. Coming from him this was like what is said in Tamil, வசிஷ்டர் வாயாலே ப்ரும்மரிஷி Vashishtar vaayaley Brihmarishi. Transliterated this means that it is like Sage Vashishta calling someone Brihmarishi. The background to that is that it was extremely difficult to get Vashishta to accept someone as Brihmarishi. Many tried but few succeeded. That little diversion is for another blog post in detail!
I was quite impressed by the review and rang up my friend and asked him whether the book will be as appealing to me, a civilian and his unequivocal response was that it would indeed be and he further added that every Indian must read it to understand what goes on behind the scenes in the Indian army.
I promptly bought the book and exactly as with my friend, I could not put the book down till I finished it.
It is an amazing story of a soldier starting from his childhood to becoming the Chief of the Army Staff and the trials and tribulations that he goes through in the process. There is every bit of human emotions that all of us go through playing throughout and added to that the shenanigans of interpersonal problems, bureaucratic apathy and/or skullduggery, politics, corruption etc, makes for a remarkable read.
Since he is much younger than I am, every incident that he writes about happened during my time, every problem India faced was made known to all of us, and the Indian army’s joys and sorrows were shared by all of us. There are people who feature in the book that I have met and known and some of the things that the General writes about comes as a surprise, albeit pleasant. I have been to almost all the places that he writes about except the border areas and the front lines. I have known other services officers who have had similar problems with their families and particularly family accommodation and children’s education. It was as though the General was articulating what many of my friends could not.
General V K Singh now retired, fought another battle a few months ago and got elected to the Indian parliament. He is currently the Minister of State of External Affairs and Minister of state (independent charge) for the North East Region. When that assignment was announced, I was quite puzzled as were all my friends but after reading the book, everything falls into place and the logic of that combination is impeccable.
The least I can do for such a book is to recommend it as being very readable. Kunal Verma’s presence is very palpable and the General readily acknowledges this. I hope that all my Indian readers and those non Indians interested in reading about a soldiers’ soldier will read this book. I have no hesitation giving it a [rating=6] rating.