HT Picks; New Reads
On the list of interesting reads this week is an account of Oppenheimer’s life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War, a volume that goes beyond the news headlines to show how some of the most important political decisions in independent India were taken, and 16 beautiful stories on same sex love translated from the original Hindi
Picture of a brilliant physicist
The inspiration for the film Oppenheimer, American Prometheus was pronounced “A riveting account of one of history’s most essential and paradoxical figures.” by Christopher Nolan. A Pulitzer Prize Winner, this is the definitive biography of J Robert Oppenheimer, one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century. A brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, he later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress. In this acclaimed biography that was 25 years in the making, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin capture Oppenheimer’s life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War. Riveting and deeply informative, reviewers have called the work a tour de force and a multifaced portrait of the man.*
Going beyond the headlines
India’s prime ministers have taken decisions that changed the course of the country’s history. This book goes beyond the news headlines to provide an eye-opening account of how some of the most important political decisions in independent India were taken.
The author analyses the operating styles of the country’s prime ministers through the prism of six decisions of historic significance. These are as follows: the strategy that Indira Gandhi devised to return to power in 1980, after her humiliating defeat post the Emergency in 1977; the errors of judgment that led Rajiv Gandhi to undo the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shah Bano case; VP Singh’s implementation of the Mandal Commission Report to save his government which forever changed the face of contemporary politics; PV Narasimha Rao’s masterful indecision that resulted in the demolition of the Babri Masjid; the rapidly changing political scenarios that turned the avowed pacifist Atal Bihari Vajpayee into a nuclear hawk who greenlighted the testing of nuclear devices; and the mild and professorial Manmohan Singh, widely regarded as one of the country’s weakest prime ministers, who defied interest groups and foes within the political establishment to seal a historic nuclear deal with the United States-and upgraded the bilateral relationship to a new level. Based on hundreds of interviews that the author conducted with prime ministers, key figures in the political establishment, bureaucrats, aides, policymakers, and even fixers, the book provides remarkable insights that have been gleaned over 40 years of high-level reporting on the national political scene.*
100 Years of Hindi Fiction on Same-Sex Desire
On the Edge is a first-of-its-kind collection of short stories and extracts from novels centred on the theme of same-sex desire, translated from the original Hindi. The 16 beautiful and provocative stories featured here (published between 1927 and 2022) include classic works by Asha Sahay, Premchand, Ugra, Rajkamal Chaudhuri, Geetanjali Shree, Sara Rai and Rajendra Yadav, among others. An important anthology, On the Edge shifts the focus on stories and characters who have, for far too long, remained in the shadows and brings them (and us) into the light.*
*All copy from book flap.