CODE TO ZERO

Author      :  Ken Follet

My Rating :  3.4 / 5

220px-CodeToZeroCold war and particularly space race are often one of most discussed topics in the subject of History. Based on this theme, the way how CIA and KGB operate discreetly trying to steal information from each other through double agents is focused in this novel. Ken creates an air of tangible tension throughout the book which is obvious to the genre and storyline he has selected. Usually I mention the highlights of the book in my reviews but this time I would like to mention the things which I learned or felt during my reading.

1. Capitalism vs Communism:

                   “It is something which happens in your childhood, otherwise never”

Well, I should say that I disagree with Ken in this issue. As a kid I was inclined towards Russia and communist ideologies but as I grew I felt that true equality between people in a society can never be achieved even under the control of totalitarian government. Nevertheless, the idea of US born citizens getting influenced by the communist ideology and preparing themselves to deceive their country-land was marvellously narrated by the author. It almost seemed like the author was expressing his idea that sometimes basic instincts and notions dominate personal life and patriotism. I should admit that though I didn’t feel that his idea was practical – the dialogues between the characters were convincing enough.

2. Coup d’etat:

Though I personally believe that capitalism is a better ideology, I shall also note that this is exactly where US loses its points. I knew about the Taliban uprising and Iraqi regime change (partially before reading this book) but when the country of Guatemala was mentioned I came to know that Iraq and Afghanistan were just two of the many coup d’etat missions conducted by America for the benefit of its economic interests. Apparently it was evident how a large section of the society would raise their voice against government actions. But still, how come banana be the reason for a regime change ?!?!?!

3. Swinging relations:

As the story progresses, the hero of the story finds that the man whom he considered as a best friend tries to murder him and the woman who was his college love deceives him in marriage. Also, he comes to know that the man who he chooses to distrust and the woman who he has ignored turn out to help him at the right time. Well sometimes those misunderstandings happen in our lives too, don’t they ?? However, the lead of the story has lived with it for over a decade, too large time to avoid shock – common in espionage activities I guess.

Who can buy this book ?

If you are a person who love spying activities, secret missions, double agents and counter-fights, you will love this book. However you shouldn’t be expecting someone breaching into a foreign country and bringing down a criminal or an organization, rather you should settle with far less than that. Still, the book with its engrossing narration is worth a read if you are a lover of this genre. For others, go for it if you are too bored.

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CHANAKYA’S CHANT

Author – Ashwin Sanghi

My Rating –  4 / 5

History is the most fascinating thing when it comes to novels. I heard the name of Chanakya for the first time during a budget session being carried out by the finance minister of India, denoting him as an ace economist known till date. After reading the novel it appeared to me as if most of the Indian movies have been inspired from various themes of Chanakya’s biography such as revenge, fighting for justice, sacrificing love etc. The history of Chanakya interweaves with the politics of modern India suffering from religious differences, caste feeling and corruption. These two stories run parallel to each other, with the latter inheriting the ideologies of the former. I would like to mention the highlights of the book:

340 B.C:

The history has been effectively narrated as it deals with the tyranny of the lustrous emperor Dhanananda, who controlled the major portion of present day geography of India and who executes the innocent and revolutionary Chanak, father of Chanakya for his selfish needs. This marks as the beginning of the story, which is later followed by the journey of Chanakya to Taxila University, arguably the first established university in the entire world which graduated many students and princes from India, China, Korea and central Asian territories in various streams. The epic picks up its pace as Chanakya grows to the position of a teacher at the University. He believed that strength lies in unity and wanted to unify Bharat under an able emperor to protect the country from external forces. At a point of time I felt that I reopened my history book of 9th standard as I passed through the phase of the Greek hero Alexander’s invasion of Sindh defeating the powerful emperor Paurus in a battle and reinstalling him into the throne as an honour of his bravery shown in the battlefield. The later epic deals with how Chanakya succeeded in making Chandragupta Maurya, one of his trusted disciples as the emperor of unified Bharat using his cunning tactics.

For a brief period I wondered whether Chanakya was positive or negative. He misuse’s his childhood crush, asks his disciple to trap a princess under an illusion of being loved, play’s dirty political tricks in order to achieve his personal goal, but what keeps him positive throughout is the very goal which he wants to achieve.

Modern politics:

                                         The fiction part of this historical fiction begins when a man by name Gangasagar finds an ancient tabloid in Sanskrit language at the ruins of Pataliputra, the capital city of Chandragupta which contains the chant as mentioned in the title of the novel encrypted on it. He resembles the Chanakya character of ancient India. The character of Chandragupta is inherited by Chandinigupta, dramatically both Chandra and Chandini meaning the same word moon but surprisingly the latter being a female. Even this story gave me the same feeling that whether Gangasagar was a good or a bad guy. He forces Chandini to be single and never lets her to fall in permanent masculine relations. He deceives several people and never let them to grow in their political career after using their popularity. He involves in share-market scams, bribes several journalists, misuses the electoral voting machines and uses every dirty trick possible to bring his beloved and selected candidate Chandini closer to the throne of Prime minister of India.

I wonder what impression would Pakistani and Chinese citizens will have once they read this book, as it deals with the possible operations undertaken by RAW(Research and Analysis Wing) agents in the interiors of respective countries. Well Sanghi, though it is an open truth, you cannot tell it openly !!!

Women power:

                                     It appeared to me as if there was lust, prostitution and fornication in almost every chapter, both in ancient and modern India. Many downfalls of emperors and destruction of politicians are a result of these carnal desires. Though the author didn’t make any such statement, I realized that women are not only the positive power who result in the creation of humanity but can also be a negative power if they are misused or when their mental instability of control are taken as an advantage. After all, this is what we learn from history or literature……..a lesson !!!!

Who can buy this book ?

                                         I can assure you that this novel is not a history textbook. Actually, anybody can read this book irrespective of their age and gender but I recommend it to people who have a reasonable knowledge in politics as well as economics. Here, I don’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy this book if you don’t, but you can’t enjoy it to the maximum because the particular phase of novel where it deals with these aspects may turn out to be dry. If you want to witness the possible political change in India, then go ahead as this book provides a thrilling visual