[Adrian Levy] ↠´ The Siege: The Attack on the Taj [roman PDF] Ebook Epub Download ↠´ There are two ways in which I could write this review 1 Tell you about the incompetency of the system which allowed such a brazen act of terrorism on Indian soil to escalate to previously unseen levels Right from the botched up handling of external and domestic intelligence handling to the readiness of the police, the security groups or the nation there are countless things I can talk about.
2 Puff up my chest and say that even after this mayhem, India saved a lot of hostages and the battle no matter how bloody it turned out to be, was a victory.
However, I am not going to take either of these routes Instead I wanted to put into words a few images that I can recollect which are closely linked to this incident This review has nothing to do with the book and yes you have been warned 1 26 November 2008 It was close to 11 PM and I had my nose buried in some book My mobile phone lights up with a text from a friend which saysTurn on the TV Something s happening in MumbaiWith no inkling as to what is going on, I did as I was asked to and got the first glimpses of what was to become a fever that gripped the country for the next three days What the news told me first was that it was a series of explosions and knowing Mumbai for what it was, I went off to sleep thinking it would all be normal by morning It wasn t I still remember the first thing I heard the next day from the TVMumbai situation Army DeployedEvery minute at office and home for the next few days was of updates from the media A colleague of mine runs to us as we are wrapping up a meeting in office and saysPardon me for barging in but they have rescued all the hostages at the TajWe all cheered at the top of our voices.
The National Security Guard NSG commandos who led the rescue operation became overnight heroes In the days that followed, there were kids who tried jumping from heights and hurt themselves reenacting the way they saw the commandos rappel down to Nariman house in Mumbai The violence left a lot of people bristling, armchair generals who wanted immediate war with Pakistan Then again there were the armchair commandos among us who sat at home and dissected the operation saying they should have gone this way or that way or shot at the terrorists in this fashion, all from the comfort of their living rooms As it happens in India, all this was forgotten in a day or two 2 Late 2012 It was the second day of a national conference I was attending and we were all fresh after lunch and at the verge of sleep The next speaker of the day was a middle aged man who looked rather inconspicuous He introduced himself as the VP HR of the Taj group and without preamble began by saying thatI was there in 2008 when it happened at the TajThe crowd slowly quietened down Following this, in a very calm and unpretentious way and without the aid of a presentation he delivered a stunning account of what happened as a business group s management team watched its flagship property being destroyed and its employees being massacred He told us about men and women who gave up their lives trying to protect their customers There was an anecdote he recounted of a waiter in one of the dining rooms who helped 32 diners escape from the burning room before being cut down by a hail of bullets from the terrorists He looked at us and saidThe man would have earned in a month what some of you here earn in a half day or a day Yet he showed no hesitation to put his life on the lineThe management team went to visit his widow days later in a small one room apartment who politely refused the compensation offered to her She put her arms around her young son and saidSir thank you for the money but I cannot take it I want my son to aspire to be like his father and nothing elseHe continued in this vein telling us of all that happened and how the TATA group finally emerged from this pit of despair with all its employees rallying around it in the hour of need Somewhere as he went along, the first tear rolled down my cheek Suddenly self conscious, I wiped it away to see almost everyone in the room in a similar state No one made an effort to hide their tears and when finally the man finished speaking, we gave him and the team a standing ovation To this day, nothing has moved me as much as that 20 minute speech 3 April 2013 I stood before the Taj hotel leaning on a brick lined railing and looking up at the mighty structure There were no signs anywhere from what happened 5 years ago I looked behind me at the sea where fishing boats bobbed and tourists clamoured on passenger boats en route to the Elephants caves For those of you who have not been to Mumbai, it might tough to explain how much grandeur and the daily humdrum of life intermingle at this place To your one side is the majestic gateway of India and the Taj hotel to the other side The streets are filled with tourists and vendors and the place is never quiet even for a second To my one side stood a bunch of school goers, happily snapping selfies in front of the hotel and to my other side was a teenaged couple with their hands entwined and smiling that happy smile of being in love A tea vendor strolled over to me askingSaab, chaismiling a toothless smile I could only wonder how fast the scars would have healed for the Mumbaikar.
Later that day, I sat in Cafe Leopold where the senseless shooting had begun There are still scars and bullets lodged in the pillars and the wall of this place and a waiter who caught me staring at them smiled and nodded before walking along on his errand Mumbai always comes back to normal, no matter how much anyone tries to hurt the sense of life in her Mumbai, On The Night Of November , Lashkar E Toiba Terrorists Attacked Targets Throughout The City, Including The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, One Of The World S Most Exclusive Luxury Hotels For Sixty Eight Hours, Hundreds Were Held Hostage As Shots Rang Out And An Enormous Fire Raged When The Smoke Cleared, Thirty One People Were Dead And Many Had Been Injured Only The Courageous Actions Of Staff And Guests Including Mallika Jagad, Bob Nichols, And Taj General Manager Binny Kang Prevented A Much Higher Death Toll With A Deep Understanding Of The Region And Its Politics And A Narrative Flair Reminiscent Of Midnight In Peking, Journalists Cathy Scott Clark And Adrian Levy Vividly Unfold The Tragic Events In A Real Life Thriller Filled With Suspense, Tragedy, History, And Heroism The Siege 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel is an unusually compelling non fictional account of the notorious 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which captured the world s attention I can corroborate the word of other commentators who praise the depth of research by authors Cathy Scott Clark and Adrien Levy the level of detail they have compiled is incredible Moreover, you can count me as one of crowd who found this book to be an absolutely absorbing pageturner it was compelling than many well written thrillers for which I have a voracious literary appetite This is a reading experience that will definitely entertain as it informs and excites, frightens, and above all, engrosses you.
The rich detail The Siege conveys while maintaining a seamlessly fast paced narrative of the events in question distinguish it as a unique achievement of its authors as much as a find for its readers However, the genre here is of course not thriller fiction this is non fiction, investigative journalism about real happenings that impacted real people Certainly, the measure of the quality of such a work must be greater than its ability to absorb and entertain its readers it must be a fitting representation of some important truth I find that the authors take too many literary liberties in presenting the facts to be true to the heart of the factual material Principally, details are fictionalized or at least stylized for the explicit purpose of imitating novelistic techniques used to hook readers interest in the given author s designed plot The opening lines of The Siege s Prologue provide a strong example of this phenomenon A sliver of moon hung over the Arabian sea as the dinghy powered towards The Queen s Necklace The ten man crew of Pakistani fighters rode the black waves in silence, listening to the thrum of the outboard motor their supplies barely seemed enough to take on the world s fourth largest city p 1 Here, the authors flesh out the characters of the perpetrators by fictionalizing their experience prior to the attacks, and they highlight Mumbai s glamour and importance in order to highlight the importance of the action to come for the primarily Western Western oriented audience of the book Make of it what you will it leaves a bad taste in my mouth I conclude that these techniques fall flat at best, and at worst, they strike this reader as downright unseemly when used to frame life and death deciding moments in the lives of real human beings such as form the basis of the nonfictional story at hand Despite the fine journalistic detail and exceptionally compelling presentation, I must give this account of the terrorism in Mumbai a deeply ambivalent review.
Please be advised I received my copy of this book through a Goodreads book giveaway.
Let s talk about incompetence.
Political incompetency is not a new thing for India In fact, Indian politicians would make a clean sweep of Gold, Silver, and Bronze if there was such a thing as The Incompetency Olympics.
Talks about 26 11 terrorist attacks of Mumbai usually start with the involvement of Pakistani rogue intelligence agency, ISI, the terrorist organization, Lashkar e Taiba, and end with the only captured terrorist, Ajmal Kasab hanged on 21st November 2012 What people don t talk about is what Indian politicians and Mumbai police really did or didn t do, rather at the time of the attacks.
There were multiple warnings given by various agencies both at home and abroad about possibilities of such attacks 11 warnings suggested the plan would involve multiple simultaneous attacks 6 warnings pointed to a seaborne infiltration But as is always the case, the people responsible for the security of the nation were unmoved The only exception was Vishwas Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Police for Zone 1, Mumbai, who contacted the coast guard and asked what was being done to beef up security Nothing, was the reply.
On the other hand, Lashkar e Taiba had already amassed an Operation Bombay war chest of 21,68,000 rupees 14,000 They were so confident of lack of any retaliatory action by India that its moneyman kept the funds in his own account under his real name at the Allied Bank in Drigh Colony, Karachi.
Finally, the day arrived when 10 terrorists attacked 6 juicy and vulnerable targets in Mumbai simultaneously Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Malabar Hill, the Leopold Caf , the Trident Oberoi hotel, Nariman House, and the Taj hotel.
Mumbai police were in total disarray right from the start No one had the slightest inclination about what in the hell was actually happening Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare was killed along with 3 other officers by the terrorists Kasab and Khan on the first night On the other hand, Commissioner Gafoor sat outside the Trident Oberoi Hotel in his staff car, 1.
5 km away from the main target, the Taj, where he would remain right till the end Later, he would defend his decision by saying that he was playing it by the book, which required him to lead from a secure position out in the field Meanwhile, the besieged city and its guests were expecting an immediate counter attack, which would come after the elite counter terrorism force, the NSG National Security Guard , arrived from New Delhi, 3 hours away from Mumbai by air But thanks again to the inefficient and indifferent government it would take them much much longer than that to arrive in Mumbai.
At the Taj, the Quick Response Teams stationed in Mumbai finally arrived, but in a tragi comic turn of events, they were assigned to marshal the press instead of storming the besieged hotel Small units of police and soldiers aimlessly circled the hotel, following Commissioner Gafoor s instructions to not to take any action on the terrorists until the correct agency the NSG arrived The whole deplorable situation could be summed up perfectly by a snippet of conversion overheard by the police between a terrorist and his handler in Pakistan who were in constant contact with each other during the whole siegeQahafa handler greeted him and Ali terrorist replied By the grace of Allah we have broken the doors with our legs to light the fire And we found five chickens We don t roam around this freely at home Even the gunmen were amazed by the lack of a counter attack We are roaming on the third, fourth, fifth floor, waiting for them Nobody is coming up Tell those bastards to come up Someone talk to us, this is no funIt s not that it was NSG s fault for the delay In a forensic account submitted after the event to the Home Ministry, it was detailed that a combined task force was unofficially mobilized at 10.
05 p.
m.
, on 26 November 2008, just 22 minutes after the first shots were fired By 10.
30 p.
m.
, they were ready to deploy to the nearby Palam airstrip, from where an aircraft would fly them to Mumbai Even at the time of such unprecedented crisis, in a series of purely bureaucratic hogwash, after much paper pushing, they were finally given a go , three hours after the first shots had been fired But then, it was revealed that NSG s transporter plane was 250 km away in Chandigarh, so Research and Analysis Wing RAW , India s foreign intelligence service, was contacted for help RAW agreed to lend an Ilyushin 76, which could only carry 120 troops, which meant it would require three trips to Mumbai to assemble the necessary force It didn t end there the plane crew was missing, and the transporter had not been fuelled Finally, when at 01.
45 am, they were leaving they were requested to pick up the Home Secretary from his residence, although this meant a significant deviation from their intended route, hence further delaying the mission The plane took off around at 02.
30 am, when the slaughter in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus had already finished, and terrorists had set in at Chabad House, the Trident Oberoi, and the Taj On the other hand, many politicians from all around the country were already arriving before the NSG with their entourage in Mumbai without any delays an added pressure for the already confused Mumbai police who had to provide them with additional guards for their security.
The NSG was aware of the shortcomings of their mobilization strategy and had reported the same to the ministry in 2006 that its mobilization strategy was critically flawed They had proposed creating four regional hubs, but the proposals went unanswered naturally Moreover, it was reported that the Black Cats as the soldiers of the NSG were called were just limping along because of corruption and lethargy in procurement by the ministry Their applications for lightweight boots, Kevlar helmets and modern body armour, as well as hands free communications sets, were collecting dust.
Meanwhile at the Taj, Commissioner Gafoor still stationed in his car outside the Trident hotel , flatly refused a request of some officers to enter the hotel Only the MARCOS Indian equivalent of US Marines was allowed to do what they could until the NSG arrived Sunil Kudiyadi, the Black Suits chief, went into the hotel, supported by a small unit of marine commandos Needless to say, the Mumbai police still roamed the perimeter of the hotel.
Some might find the criticism of Mumbai police in the light of these events a bit harsh, but the fact is that that Sunil Kudiyadi made it in and out of the hotel numerous times, while the Mumbai police looked on A few officers of Mumbai police did went inside the hotel, but had to retreat as they were severely outgunned The terrorists had hand grenades and AK 47s, while the police officers only had their side arms As an added disgrace for the police, the majority of guests were rescued by the Taj hotel staff The Taj staffers went out of their way and showed commendable courage in the face of a crisis and did the work which the Mumbai police should have been doing in the first place Without the staff s initiative, the death toll would have been tenfold.
When one staffer after much running and hiding managed to come out of the Taj through a backdoor, he found two police constables languishing on the hotel steps and chewing tobacco They were thoroughly disinterested with anything he had to say and shooed him away When another Taj employee went to a nearby police station after coming out of the Hotel by himself to present his eyewitness account, he found that the station was locked.
Under such dismal conditions, the NSG finally arrived and rescued the remaining 300 guests from the Taj, 250 guests from the Trident Oberoi, and 60 people from the Nariman House Apart from the terrorist killed earlier and Ajmal Kasab who was captured alive , the rest of the terrorists were eliminated, but not before they had claimed 166 victims.
After the attacks, many foreign connections were discovered As expected, most of the perpetrators were from Pakistan, but some clues also pointed towards David Headley real name Daood Sayed Gilani , who had done the recon of Mumbai for the attacks Headley was a double agent, who worked for the DEA of the USA as a paid informant, so after his arrest, USA refused to extradite him and sentenced him to 35 years in a US prison instead.
As is the norm with any post crisis investigations in India, a laughably unacceptable two man panel of Pradhan Commission was formed to investigate the war like attacks on the city They were not allowed to cross examine the intelligence services, politicians or the NSG They finally filed a flimsy 64 page report in which they acquitted the Mumbai police, only accusing Commissioner Hasan Gafoor for remaining invisible throughout the ordeal The Commission also recommended various methods and equipments to be installed to detect future attacks Surprising nobody in India, none of them have been implemented as of writing this Just a month back, I read in Times of India that the procurement process of CCTV cameras for Mumbai was still in a limbo as there was confusion and disagreement regarding the tendering process Remember, 5 years have already passed since the Mumbai attacks.
This book does not wade much into the muddled and corrupt waters of Indian politics and frankly, I don t blame the authors , but Catherine Scott Clark and Adrian Levy has done a commendable job of writing this much needed book about the siege of the Taj Hotel, which, in my opinion, is a slap on the faces of Indian authors who have disgustedly shied away from their duty of reporting about their country s most trying plight in recent times.
Unavoidably, after the debacle, party paid media and politicians started talking about the undying spirit of Mumbai and India and how it always overcomes every grief Spirit has nothing to do with it People still have to pay their bills, and unlike Indian politicians, they actually have to go to work and earn their living, come what may.
There are two ways in which I could write this review 1 Tell you about the incompetency of the system which allowed such a brazen act of terrorism on Indian soil to escalate to previously unseen levels Right from the botched up handling of external and domestic intelligence handling to the readiness of the police, the security groups or the nation there are countless things I can talk about.
2 Puff up my chest and say that even after this mayhem, India saved a lot of hostages and the battle no matter how bloody it turned out to be, was a victory.
However, I am not going to take either of these routes Instead I wanted to put into words a few images that I can recollect which are closely linked to this incident This review has nothing to do with the book and yes you have been warned 1 26 November 2008 It was close to 11 PM and I had my nose buried in some book My mobile phone lights up with a text from a friend which saysTurn on the TV Something s happening in MumbaiWith no inkling as to what is going on, I did as I was asked to and got the first glimpses of what was to become a fever that gripped the country for the next three days What the news told me first was that it was a series of explosions and knowing Mumbai for what it was, I went off to sleep thinking it would all be normal by morning It wasn t I still remember the first thing I heard the next day from the TVMumbai situation Army DeployedEvery minute at office and home for the next few days was of updates from the media A colleague of mine runs to us as we are wrapping up a meeting in office and saysPardon me for barging in but they have rescued all the hostages at the TajWe all cheered at the top of our voices.
The National Security Guard NSG commandos who led the rescue operation became overnight heroes In the days that followed, there were kids who tried jumping from heights and hurt themselves reenacting the way they saw the commandos rappel down to Nariman house in Mumbai The violence left a lot of people bristling, armchair generals who wanted immediate war with Pakistan Then again there were the armchair commandos among us who sat at home and dissected the operation saying they should have gone this way or that way or shot at the terrorists in this fashion, all from the comfort of their living rooms As it happens in India, all this was forgotten in a day or two 2 Late 2012 It was the second day of a national conference I was attending and we were all fresh after lunch and at the verge of sleep The next speaker of the day was a middle aged man who looked rather inconspicuous He introduced himself as the VP HR of the Taj group and without preamble began by saying thatI was there in 2008 when it happened at the TajThe crowd slowly quietened down Following this, in a very calm and unpretentious way and without the aid of a presentation he delivered a stunning account of what happened as a business group s management team watched its flagship property being destroyed and its employees being massacred He told us about men and women who gave up their lives trying to protect their customers There was an anecdote he recounted of a waiter in one of the dining rooms who helped 32 diners escape from the burning room before being cut down by a hail of bullets from the terrorists He looked at us and saidThe man would have earned in a month what some of you here earn in a half day or a day Yet he showed no hesitation to put his life on the lineThe management team went to visit his widow days later in a small one room apartment who politely refused the compensation offered to her She put her arms around her young son and saidSir thank you for the money but I cannot take it I want my son to aspire to be like his father and nothing elseHe continued in this vein telling us of all that happened and how the TATA group finally emerged from this pit of despair with all its employees rallying around it in the hour of need Somewhere as he went along, the first tear rolled down my cheek Suddenly self conscious, I wiped it away to see almost everyone in the room in a similar state No one made an effort to hide their tears and when finally the man finished speaking, we gave him and the team a standing ovation To this day, nothing has moved me as much as that 20 minute speech 3 April 2013 I stood before the Taj hotel leaning on a brick lined railing and looking up at the mighty structure There were no signs anywhere from what happened 5 years ago I looked behind me at the sea where fishing boats bobbed and tourists clamoured on passenger boats en route to the Elephants caves For those of you who have not been to Mumbai, it might tough to explain how much grandeur and the daily humdrum of life intermingle at this place To your one side is the majestic gateway of India and the Taj hotel to the other side The streets are filled with tourists and vendors and the place is never quiet even for a second To my one side stood a bunch of school goers, happily snapping selfies in front of the hotel and to my other side was a teenaged couple with their hands entwined and smiling that happy smile of being in love A tea vendor strolled over to me askingSaab, chaismiling a toothless smile I could only wonder how fast the scars would have healed for the Mumbaikar.
Later that day, I sat in Cafe Leopold where the senseless shooting had begun There are still scars and bullets lodged in the pillars and the wall of this place and a waiter who caught me staring at them smiled and nodded before walking along on his errand Mumbai always comes back to normal, no matter how much anyone tries to hurt the sense of life in her Quick Book Review The Siege by Cathy Scott Clark and Adrian LevyWhat s it about The 26 11 attack on Taj focussed on that specifically Good Things Breadth and Depth of Research both Primary and Secondary.
A google search on the references alone will blow ur socks off yet a humble acknowledgement from the writer duo that such deep trauma often twists recollection of reality and hence versions of the same event could be different opposed Narrative chronology and veracity verified by cctv coverage, transcripts of conversation between terrorists and handlers and also by text messages of survivors.
Secondly, page turning writing esp for a non fiction book A ticktock acccount after the first 50 pages this book is totally Un putdownable.
Bad Things First 50 pages are terribly written Please skim through and have hope Excessive details sometimes which get into the private lifes of those deceased Also at places gets over dramatic Loses sharpness in last 30 pages of the story but picks up in conclusion.
All in All a must read book but not for the faint hearted.
If you plan to read this book please choose an appropriate time recommend weekend Will keep you up at night Undoubtedly one of the best non fiction which reads very much like fiction of 2013.
Quick Book Review The Siege by Cathy Scott Clark and Adrian LevyWhat s it about The 26 11 attack on Taj focussed on that specifically Good Things Breadth and Depth of Research both Primary and Secondary.
A google search on the references alone will blow ur socks off yet a humble acknowledgement from the writer duo that such deep trauma often twists recollection of reality and hence versions of the same event could be different opposed Narrative chronology and veracity verified by cctv coverage, transcripts of conversation between terrorists and handlers and also by text messages of survivors.
Secondly, page turning writing esp for a non fiction book A ticktock acccount after the first 50 pages this book is totally Un putdownable.
Bad Things First 50 pages are terribly written Please skim through and have hope Excessive details sometimes which get into the private lifes of those deceased Also at places gets over dramatic Loses sharpness in last 30 pages of the story but picks up in conclusion.
All in All a must read book but not for the faint hearted.
If you plan to read this book please choose an appropriate time recommend weekend Will keep you up at night Undoubtedly one of the best non fiction which reads very much like fiction of 2013.
This is an account of the terrorist siege in Mumbai, India in November 2008 There were ten terrorists, well trained and well armed, who attacked a major railroad station, a restaurant, a Jewish Chabab House, and two large hotels They killed 166 people and over 300 hundred were wounded Anyone in the vicinity of this heinous attack had their lives transformed forever They killed indiscriminately, firing their AK47s into large crowds, maiming and killing young and old, poor and rich, women and children.
This book details the siege at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel chosen deliberately because it is a landmark in India We are given eyewitness descriptions of what took place and most interestingly a background to this terrorist attack One of the members was captured alive and immediately revealed much information.
The attack originated and was planned over several months in Pakistan The terrorist group is called Lashkar e Toiba and they are directly supported by Pakistan s ISI the intelligence network After the attack, with the obvious links to Pakistan, an internal Pakistani investigation ensued This ended abruptly when the chief lawyer and prosecutor was killed in Islamabad So once again Pakistan is a difficult country with several halls of mirrors all vicious and protracted.
We are also provided with a most interesting portrait of an American Pakistani his mother American, his father Pakistani named David Headley aka Daood Saleem Gilani He scouted and mapped out the areas, like the Taj Hotel, for Lashkar e Toiba months before the attacks took place.
I also got a very uncomfortable feeling for the security and policing arrangements in Mumbai one of the twenty largest cities in the world The closest SWAT team was a three hour flight away For over 24 hours the terrorists, who were equipped with AK47 s, grenades and explosive devices were merely confronted by a few policemen with glock pistols and antiquated rifles The people in the hotel coped as well as they could they were essentially on their own for many, many long horrifying hours.
This book provides us with a dark view of the new age we live in We have a foreground the events that happened and a background of the misguided people who organized this carnage.
A few hours into their attack on the Taj Mumbai an exclusive five star hotel located in the Indian city of Mumbai , frustrated and tired terrorists complained to their Pakistani handler that they were getting bored waiting for Indian security forces to engage them One terrorist in fact said this was no fun The irritated handler told them to blow up portions of the hotel in the meantime For some reason they kept failing to do so, probably because they were too tired This is hilarious not if you were a hostage at the Taj Mumbai the terrorists were worn down not by the alacrity of the Indian security establishment, but by their inefficiency The NSG National Security Guard , a special forces unit of trained commandos had begun to mobilize in New Delhi, 20 minutes after the first shots were fired at the Taj But there was no plane to fly them to Mumbai Once the plane was procured, there was no machinery to load their kits onto the plane So the commandos had to do it manually They had to wait for their boss to pick up the Indian Home Secretary despite the Home Secretary being informed that this would lead to wastage of valuable time Once the plane carrying the NSG and the Home Secretary reached Mumbai, there was a large convoy of cars waiting for the Home Secretary But there was nobody to transport the NSG to the Taj Mumbai They had to unload their kit manually yet again This is the kind of uniquely Indian absurdity that would inspire cynical cartoonists and humorous columnists But cynicism and humor in India are often poor masks to hide tears of impotence Quite a few senior police officers of Mumbai police refused to engage the terrorists citing the reason of outdated weaponry The Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor failed to follow procedure on many occasions much to the anger of senior officers who reported to him If procedure had been followed, hostages could have been saved and terrorists could have been trapped in one building by the time the NSG arrived The terrorist Ajmal Kasab was captured through the foolhardiness of unfit Mumbai policemen who were desperate enough to take on AK 47 carrying terrorists with their lathis and fists Without Kasab s confessions, it would have been tough for India to establish that the terrorists came from Pakistan It was not the elite commandos with modern weaponry who captured a terrorist alive, but Indian police a symbol of Indian mediocrity, wretchedness and inefficiency The Siege contains many such humbling revelations that I have listed above I liked the book s slow build up Like William Friedkin took time to introduce Demon Pasusu to us, Levy and Clark take a long time establishing characters mostly the Taj s staff and place there are long descriptions of the labyrinthine interiors of the Taj There are many Demon Pasusu s David Headley, the recce man who sold this project to the Lashkar would rival Anders Breivik for sheer wickedness and ingenuity even though he never killed anybody, Ajmal Kasab the brainwashed terrorist who later regretted his acts and the many faceless spooks within the Lashkar and Pakistan ISI I was working in Navi Mumbai a new built Mumbai suburb with its own malls, pubs, restaurants and slums that was becoming overpopulated when I left it in 2012 when this terrorist attack happened I remember some of my colleagues saying that the attack was a blessing in disguise because rich people were affected and hence something might actually get done This might seem callous But they were merely reacting to a larger Indian callousness and tendency to forget As V.
S.
Naipaul pointed out No civilization was so little equipped to cope with the outside world no country was so easily raided and plundered, and learned so little from its disasters.
I only got 1 2 way Insanity coupled with incompetence it s just too dire for me to want to read any When will this threat of fanatic jihad be seen for what it is Since 9 11 or this horrid, horrid event inside The Taj, nor numbers of other bombings and massacres of innocent victims on 3 or 4 continents doesn t seem to have rung any of the right bells now, I do despair.
They are continually soliciting killer volunteers every day from Europe and the Americas on the internet for this exact kind of work And getting 10,000 takers a year from a Reuters report, I just read Looking at the lives of the terrorists themselves in these last days before this siege in this book Complete insanity structured by nice family men for the proper ways to say good bye It s too stomach turning to continue reading for me And we argue and hold hubris about use of language or team names or offense Being blown up or tortured is a fairly larger offense, and is given a tsk tsk or deemed in the same fairness arena Bread and circuses here in the USA are coupled with a don t look behind the curtain politico in free world countries We are living right now in a fantasy land about this fanatic Islamic movement Our government reaction dwells in a place similar to a cross between types of distraction from the latter days of Rome coupled with The Wizard of Oz orchestration.
Hate abounds, and it seems it is blind to any other alternative but theirs It is as real as dirt and sky And it is coming And I wouldn t be at all surprised that my grandchildren will have to deal with its consequences as my Father s did with the Nazis.
Pop history in the vein of Black Hawk Down Well written, well researched Brings home the horror and cold blooded evil of the attack very well A bit thin in the afterword section In fact, surprisingly so Considering how much research the two authors seem to have managed, a little information about what happened or did not happen in the aftermath would have been nice PS the authors show the full horror of the attack as well as all the ineptitude and bungling in the Indian response and a lot of heroism as well , but say very little about the unusual nature of the terrorist network that produced this horror That their aims and abilities are above average is one thing, but that the state support they receive also goes beyond the norm is never explicitly stated This is a mistake If you have gone to the trouble of writing this book and feel so strongly about it, its good to put in perspective as wellto bring out the novelty and shock of the new and the worse about this network and its supporters.
Review to come soon Meticulously researched by authors Cathy Scott Clark and Adrian Levy, The Siege 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel is a riveting account of the Nov 26, 2008, terrorist attack on Mumbai, India, by ten young Pakistani men affiliated with the group Lashkar e Toiba.
The staff of the Taj Hotel men and women who were chefs, waiters, restaurant managers and security personnel performed countless acts of heroism during the siege and many sacrificed themselves so that others could escape Although ill prepared materially for the attack some patrolmen were armed with pre World War II bolt action rifles, others only with bamboo canes many of the Mumbai police displayed exceptional valor and commitment while attempting to stop men armed with assault rifles, grenades and plastic explosives.
The narrative is gripping, filled with tension and stories of heroism and heartbreak In turns the reader will experience dread, triumph, tragedy and simmering frustration at the inadequate response by city, state and national authorities Mumbai was not prepared for the violence these ten men visited upon it, which is all the staggering given its proximity to Pakistan and prior record of terrorist bombing activity.
I give full credit to the authors, as they tell a highly complex story interweaving the personal stories of a dozen or people swept up in the attack in a natural, eminently readable style I ve seen this book favorably compared to Mark Bowden s Black Hawk Down an assessment I wholeheartedly agree with Veteran investigative reporters well versed in the region, Scott Clark and Levy provide insight into the motivations of the Lashkar e Toiba and the different paths the ten men took to get to the point where they were stepping off a boat on the shores of India, bent on killing and sowing terror Without relying on a linear timeline, the narrative shifts seamlessly between various eyewitnesses and participants, with some events told from multiple perspectives.
Although the attack against Mumbai involved targets than the Taj Hotel, as the title suggests the luxury hotel is the prime focus of this book The events at the Trident Oberoi Hotel, train station and Chabad House are referred to, but not examined in detail The narrower focus doesn t make this book any less critical to understanding what happened future readers should just be aware it is not all encompassing.
I highly recommend it.
The Siege 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel is an unusually compelling non fictional account of the notorious 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which captured the world s attention I can corroborate the word of other commentators who praise the depth of research by authors Cathy Scott Clark and Adrien Levy the level of detail they have compiled is incredible Moreover, you can count me as one of crowd who found this book to be an absolutely absorbing pageturner it was compelling than many well written thrillers for which I have a voracious literary appetite This is a reading experience that will definitely entertain as it informs and excites, frightens, and above all, engrosses you.
The rich detail The Siege conveys while maintaining a seamlessly fast paced narrative of the events in question distinguish it as a unique achievement of its authors as much as a find for its readers However, the genre here is of course not thriller fiction this is non fiction, investigative journalism about real happenings that impacted real people Certainly, the measure of the quality of such a work must be greater than its ability to absorb and entertain its readers it must be a fitting representation of some important truth I find that the authors take too many literary liberties in presenting the facts to be true to the heart of the factual material Principally, details are fictionalized or at least stylized for the explicit purpose of imitating novelistic techniques used to hook readers interest in the given author s designed plot The opening lines of The Siege s Prologue provide a strong example of this phenomenon A sliver of moon hung over the Arabian sea as the dinghy powered towards The Queen s Necklace The ten man crew of Pakistani fighters rode the black waves in silence, listening to the thrum of the outboard motor their supplies barely seemed enough to take on the world s fourth largest city p 1 Here, the authors flesh out the characters of the perpetrators by fictionalizing their experience prior to the attacks, and they highlight Mumbai s glamour and importance in order to highlight the importance of the action to come for the primarily Western Western oriented audience of the book Make of it what you will it leaves a bad taste in my mouth I conclude that these techniques fall flat at best, and at worst, they strike this reader as downright unseemly when used to frame life and death deciding moments in the lives of real human beings such as form the basis of the nonfictional story at hand Despite the fine journalistic detail and exceptionally compelling presentation, I must give this account of the terrorism in Mumbai a deeply ambivalent review.
Please be advised I received my copy of this book through a Goodreads book giveaway.