"Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World" by Hugh Miles is a biography of a TV network hated in the west as a mouthpiece of the terrorists and in the middle east as a mouthpiece of the west. If they are hated by everyone and yet have a tremendous impact by becoming one of the largest networks in the world, don't you think they must be doing something right?
Hugh Miles traces the journey of Al Jazeera birthing out of a grant in Qatar by the Emir until the end of the Iraq war in 2005. Sometimes the book reads like a fan tribute and sometimes raises some serious questions about the editorial policy, financial autonomy etc. But mostly it feels like the former.
While narrating the story of Al Jazeera, the author holds a mirror to the western world and it's spineless media that abdicated it's duty under the garb of patriotism in the run up to the Iraq war. He exposes the hypocrisy of the western world that talks of freedom of speech while curtailing it in the middle east by supporting authoritarian regimes and despots.
This is a great book not only to learn more about the Al Jazeera but also the geopolitical dynamics of the Gulf.
In the book, there is an instance where Qatar is boycotted by it's neighbours over Al Jazeera and something similar is playing out currently. I thought this would be the best period to judge the objectivity of the news channel. I have to admit that the coverage so far has been quite balanced and sober (unlike majority of the English news channels in India).
Rome: The biography of a city
What's the first thing one picks up when intending to go sightseeing? Most likely a guide book? The popular guide books (like Lonely Planet) cater to more than sights ie food, experiences etc. Christopher Hibbert's "Rome: The biography of a city" is an unconventional guidebook that intertwines history of the …read more
The History of Rome
How did Rome end up becoming such an important city? How did it's story start? Michael Grant, tries to compress nearly 1500 years of history into 300 pages. The book's language is simple but condensing so much into a single book is quite overwhelming. Nevertheless, this book is a great …read more
The Big Short
How would you feel if you made millions of dollars through trading? In seventh heaven, I guess?
How would you feel if you made millions of dollars betting against the herd? When the herd's collapse could shutter some of the biggest financial institutions and push thousands of home owners on …read more
Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Seabiscuit was the horse that held up the spirits of not just it's owner but thousands of Americans during the Great Depression. The horse had gone unnoticed until it came into the stable of Charles Howard, a successful America car dealer. Charles Howard appointed Tom Smith to train the horse …read more
Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History
The plunder of Somanatha by Mahmud of Ghazni was supposed to be a watershed moment in Indian history. It is usually summed up as the start of Islamic rule in India and the oppression of majority Hindus.
Romila Thapar investigates if that is the case. She concludes that is not …read more
Early India From the Origins to 1300AD
When one generally talks of Indian history, we immediately assume the story of Kings, wars, their golden administration and vilification of the other neighbouring kingdoms. But Romila Thapar's "Early India from the Origins to 1300AD" is a different kind of a history book.
It emphasises little on kings and stories …read more
Annihilation of Caste
Annihilation of Caste was supposed to be the last speech to have been delivered by Dr. B.R Ambedkar before he gave up Hinduism and converted to Buddhism. The speech was to have been delivered before an anti-caste organization in Lahore in the 1930s. But the anti-caste group found Ambedkar's …read more
M.Krishnan was amongst India's earliest nature conservationist and policy expert. This book is a collection of short stories on his tryst with nature's creations.
Some of the stories are everyday stories like the author's encounter with a snake in his backyard or with common birds like crows. Others being …read more
The Price of Inequality
One of the reasons for the Arab Spring protests in 2010 and the subsequent Occupy movement in the 2012 was the symptom of globalization, rampant inequality.
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize awarded economist and the author of this book discusses the causes of inequality and the ways to fix it …read more