From Editor Unplugged to Strangers Of The Mist to The Emergency to India’s Biggest Cover Up, the books provide insight into major events and also exposes wrongdoings and corruption. The books, written by journalists, bureaucrats, generals and spies stand out for their depth, scope and storytelling.
Written by former investigative journalist and crime reporter Hussain Zadi, Dongri to Dubai attempts to chronicle the history of Mumbai’s underworld. This is the third part of Zaidi’s trilogy on the Mumbai Mafia, the first two books being Black Friday, and Mumbai’s Mafia Queens. Meticulously researched for over six years, the book follows the journeys of some of India’s most infamous gangsters- their love affairs, their Bollywood connections et al. Zaidi has mapped the Mumbai underworld since its beginnings in the 1950s to the 1990s-early 2000s, when the underworld dons literally ruled over Mumbai. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how the author draws parallels between political and economic policies and the rise of the mafia. For example, how the new economic reforms of 1991, and the subsequent shutting of the Mumbai Mills opened up the real estate business to Dawood. The book has all the essential elements of a Bollywood potboiler, and contains an exclusive interview with big daddy of the D company. Apart from being extremely informative, it is thoroughly entertaining, and unputdownable.
Co-authored by senior advocate H.S Phoolka- who has been fighting cases at the behest of the 1984 riots victims- and Manoj Mitta, the investigative reporter who has also written a book on the 2002 riots, this book’s title is a take on Rajiv Gandhi’s infamous speech at the Delhi Boat House, when he said “When a big tree falls down, the ground around it is bound to shake a little”, in the context of killings of Sikhs following Indira Gandhi’s death. The book doesn’t focus on the personal opinions of the authors, but hard hitting fact based reportage, and bone chilling stories that went unreported - of rape, loot, arson and cold-blooded murders. The blood-curling and nausea-inducing details of the anti-sikh riots are intense enough to give you sleepless nights.The book compiles documents, eyewitness reports, affidavits, and the reports of every enquiry/commission that has been set up to look into the 1984 riots, and tracks the action taken against the accused over the years.
Mehta’s book successfully quenches a reader’s perennial thirst for gossip, with juicy snippets emanating from the corridors of Lutyen’s Delhi, and the Press Clubs. Since Outlook was the first to break the Radia Tapes, an entire chapter has been dedicated to Niira Radia, who had sued Mehta in a London court. The chapter contains very insights on the “leaks”, on Radia’s relation with some of the biggest names in the industry, shady lobbying, and why it was in most people’s benefit to have the tapes leaked. The Lucknow Boy’s second memoir also talks about how he started the trend of bringing his glass of wine to prime time debates, the love-hate relationship between television and print media, the growing “agenda journalism”, and his 40 year-long career as an editor.
Anita Pratab, recipient of the George Polk Award, became the first journalist to interview the LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran in 1983, and is the only woman reporter to have interviewed him more than once. When journalists were not allowed inside the camps in Sri Lanka, she covered the conflict while undercover. In her book, Island of Blood, she has recounts her bone-chilling and graphic accounts of reporting from conflict ridden areas in South Asia- Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Kashmir. The section on Sri Lanka is the best account that one can get, since Pratap had unparalleled access and a sheer drive to report the stories. She not only managed access to the LTTE in Sri Lanka, but also in New Delhi, where Prabhakaran was kept under the tightest security possible. Another masterpiece is her interview with Shiv Sena supremo, Balasaheb Thackrey, right after the 1993 Mumbai blasts. Some of her first hand experiences are extremely gruesome but interspersed with humourous. Island of Blood is an impeccable work of investigative and conflict reportage and a must for anyone who wishes to familiarise themselves with the Sri Lankan war.
Collection of watchdog reporting from India