Saturday, December 15, 2012

14 Hours - An Insider's Account of the 26/11 Taj Attack by Ankur Chawla



About the book (from here: 26 November 2008. The world watches in horror as Mumbai is ripped apart by coordinated terrorist attacks. Among the locations targeted is the century-old iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Colaba. By the time the siege ends, the hotel has suffered severe damage—and dozens have lost their lives. In 14 Hours, we encounter for the first time a full, eyewitness account of the shocking tragedy—from Ankur Chawla, an operations management trainee with the hotel in 2008.

My thoughts: Let me just say it, I did not like this book at all. I was very keen on reading it and I was very disappointed. I probably wouldn't have finished it if I didn't have to write a review. The writing was terribly clumsy and the structure of the book was too haphazard for my taste. I realize how the author's experiences during the 26/11 attacks deserved to be captured in the pages of a book, but I just think he should have hired someone to do it for him.

I expected a book about a terrorist attack to be hair-raising but the emotions in this book are stunted. At times it felt like I was reading a child's account of the attack. With lines like "Those who a few hours ago had been relishing exquisite and expensive malts and cuisines were praying now to return home safely. The fear and insecurity in the eyes of the bigshots of Mumbai was a rare and shocking sight." (page 20) and the mention of taking pictures of some burnt bodies of the terrorists just seemed too immature. I didn't like this book for the very same reason that I didn't like reading Anne Frank's diary: while the events mentioned were truly harrowing, the person narrating them was just too childish. I didn't like the tone of the book either. It was too simple, often repetitive, too straight-forward and just very casual.

Don't even get me started on the language. I was tempted to keep a red ball pen in hand to correct the mistakes that the book was infested with. The sentence construction was awkward and there were grammatical errors on literally every other page. At times, it was almost on the verge of being funny: take, for instance, this sentence: "You can't understand my pain, unless you are the father of a daughter." (page 56) I do know what he meant to say, but couldn't it have been expressed better? Not to mention, words like "quagmire" seemed to be thrown in for an artsy effect, apparently. I always wonder where people find such words. It would have helped if the author had paid more attention to all the prepositions rather than wasting time coming up with fancy words.

The editing wasn't good either. Some words were skipped entirely from the sentences, turning a chilling experience into an odd one: (paraphrased) The broken glass fell above my. Don't people get their books edited before getting them published? If I ever publish a book with so many errors, I wouldn't be able to live with myself.

That being said, what the author had to go through, the events shown in the book were without any doubt, terrifying. The author has made it a point to mention every single detail he remembers, which I do appreciate. The book is an in-depth itinerary of his 14 hour experience being stuck in the hotel. I only wish someone else writes a book about the Taj attack, that better conveys the emotional experience.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program and BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books.

1 comments:

Ankit the Writer said...

It is pitiful state of Indian publishing. It seems they are running on the concept of "Something is better than Nothing." The publishers honesty and creditability certainly requires some cross examination

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