Friday, August 24, 2007

Reading Time!

Last three weeks I was fortunate enough to read four good books - thanks to my vacation in Vancouver and unavailability of internet connection in my new apartment. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all these books and wish I could continue to read more at this pace.

During my visit to Vancouver I could read the book China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power by National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent Rob Gifford. Rob traveled across Route 312, 3000 miles journey starting at Shangai and ends all the way on the border of Kazakhstan. This book shows the contradiction in the growth of China – fast growing cities and increase of starving villages. One of the heartburning narrations in this book is about a town in China where majority of the people have AIDS – thanks to the blood donation drive a decade ago. The author talks to few AIDS patients who complain about the total neglect by the government. He talks about the corruption prevailing in the society and the government and how the villagers are trying to cope up with rapid urbanization. A good read if you are interested in knowing about a country that is supposedly going to become the next global super power.

I have read few books about Israel-Palestine conflict but most of it I felt was extremely biased towards Israel. I was looking for a book that can explain to me in simple language what this conflict is all about and the book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid was the right answer. In this book President Jimmy Carter takes you through the Palestine-Israel conflict through the years and the effort he had taken as President and ex-President to solve it. He talks about Camp David accord signed during his Presidency, the suffering of Palestine people in the hand of Israel army, various failed peace initiatives etc. Even though it is not a great book it is a good read for someone like me who is trying to understand the entire conflict. If you already know about the history of this conflict my suggestion is not to spend any time reading this book.

Since reading Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward where he attributed CIA director George Tenet as saying that Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) case in Iraq a “slam dunk” I was very much interested in knowing Tenet’s side of the story. George Tenet’s new book At the Center of Storm- My Days at the CIA explains his side of the story. The book begins with his appointment as the Director of Central Intelligence in 1997 and ends with his resignation in 2005. First part of the book explains the efforts of intelligence community in tracking down terrorists prior to 9/11. Then he explains the role of CIA immediately after 9/11. The third part of the book explains the war in Iraq where he takes the reader to the various stages of planning and execution of Iraq war. He admits the various mistakes made by his agency in analyzing and reporting the raw intelligence from Iraq about WMD. A great book that takes one through the inner working of the US intelligence agency. I loved reading it.

The other book I finished reading just now is Leadership by Rudolph Giuliani former Mayor of New York and Republic President hopeful. I have read a lot about him soon after 9/11 but this is the first time I was able to read what he exactly did in detail soon after 9/11. He writes about the various planning involved in making the different government agencies well oiled to face an emergency situation like 9/11. He explains in detail how he was able to turnaround the image of New York City that was leading in crime rate to one of the lowest in the nation by the time he left office. The book is full of his leadership views – what a good leader should and should not do – like “Prepare Relentlessly” or “Surround Yourself with Great People”. I am very much impressed by this man. This book is for anyone who wants to understand more about successful leadership qualities.

I am now reading “The Assault on Reason” by former Vice President Al Gore. I have read few chapters in the book and I am deeply impressed by the unfathomable knowledge Al Gore possess.

As a concluding note – I wish we have same number of books releasing in India pertaining to current affairs.

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