Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: When A Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage And Its Aftermath

When A Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage And Its Aftermath by Manoj Mitta, HS Phoolka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I rarely read non-fiction books. Maybe it's because reality is something that is already there around me. However, this book was one of the very few non-fiction books that I have read and would probably read again.

When the first woman prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated, riots ensued. As it was said that her Sikh bodyguard who shot her, thousands of Sikhs were murdered, raped, beaten, driven away, and forced to hide or deny their very existence during the anti-Sikh Riots.

This book contains eyewitness accounts and other information (both from sources that are official and unofficial) of what went on during those very troubled times. The title of the book has roots in remarks made by Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv, who said, "When a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little." The tree is meant to symbolize Indira Gandhi and the shaking earth denotes thousands of Sikhs who were murdered in retaliation for the assassination.

The book is tough reading not because it is badly written but due to the fact that many of the eyewitness accounts paint such gruesome pictures of what happened during the riots. The book may not appeal to a lot of people but it is one of the best books written about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which is considered by many as genocide. The book also raises a lot of very uncomfortable questions as to who the people behind the riots were, why they did what they did, and many others.

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Posted by: Bames Pabla
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  1. It's always tough reading about real-life brutality, don't you think? And I'm currently writing a book about a tough topic--the sex slave industry--and all of the unsavory aspects that go along with it. (Although my story is a fictionalized account of a serious problem.) But it's important that we're aware of our brutal history, isn't it? When we can't tolerate the reality anymore, we can always pick up a good fiction book to escape, right?

    1. I agree with you, Kim. Reality can be tough reading when it's about the darker side of life. I guess that is the reason I usually drown myself in fiction books. :)