The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Paperback Pickings

Of sons and fathers

My Father’s Keeper (Abacus, £ 4.99) by Stephan and Norbert Lebert is a gripping, sometimes painful, account of the way the children of Nazi leaders dealt with the legacy of their names. It is, as the subtitle says, “an intimate history of damage and denial”, translated lucidly by Julian Evans. The series of interviews of the children, now on the brink of adult life, are conducted by another father and son pair. The text unfolds on many levels, and is many-layered in time, throwing unusual crosslights on history, turning known facts about Nazi leaders’ family lives inside out through the memories of the children, sometimes bringing the then ongoing Nuremberg trials into their deserted living rooms. The tormented context enriches this foray into the most inescapable, puzzling and intimate of relationships.

The King of pirates (Hesperus, £ 5.99) by Daniel Defoe is part of this publisher’s series of reprints of short, often neglected, classics. The novel, written in 1719 following the success of Robinson Crusoe, is an outrageous pseudo-justification by the pirate captain, Avery, supposedly to counter false accounts about him. Defoe’s version of “realism”, that is, fantasy and high adventure pretending to be recorded fact, is as enjoyable here as in Crusoe or Moll Flanders. The fun lies as much in Defoe’s deadpan yarn-spinning, as in his expert narrative of the high seas and his witty celebration of amorality.

a brief history of everything (Gateway, Rs 150) by Ken Wilber is modestly slim given its span: 311 pages of edifying text and a few more pages with an appendix (about holons emerging holarchically) and an index including presumably everything from aperspectival madness to Sankhya yoga. It is a relief to know one can go to Wilber to find out anything about everything, since he studies (with meticulously incomprehensible diagrams) “everything”, from the emergence of material life to the evolution of consciousness, and ends with the collapse of the “Kosmos” and a search for the “radiant Spirit” in the flatland of post-modern times. But need one search further'

operation black thunder: an eyewitness account of terrorism in punjab (Sage, Rs 295) by Sarabjit Singh is an insider’s perspective on and analysis of terrorism in Punjab. Singh is a retired IAS officer, who had been deputy commissioner of Amritsar from 1987 to 1992 and was intimately involved in operation Black Thunder. The volume is remarkable both as experience and as document.

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