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A Thousand Suns: Witness to History Hardcover – 6 Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (6 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684858665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684858661
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 889,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Dominique Lapierre was one of the pioneers of the subjective news story, a man who was never afraid to put himself, both physically and emotionally, at the heart of his reports. It is a style that has been often imitated, but as A Thousand Suns shows, has seldom been bettered. In 1944 Lapierre won his own footnote in history by misdirecting the German tanks and accelerating the liberation of Paris by two days, and you could argue that ever since he has been making sure that other people get the credit they deserve. A Thousand Suns is both a personal memoir and a testament to the notable characters Lapierre met along the way from the great and the good, such as Mother Teresa, to the infamous, (such as Caryl Chessman who was executed in San Quentin in 1960), to the more anonymous. Throughout, Lapierre is always looking for the personal details that make the stories come alive. And he finds them. He discovers that General von Choltitz, the Nazi in charge of occupied Paris, had had an overcoat made in the summer of 1944 "because he thought it would be cold in a POW camp". From Kozo Okamato, the only surviving Red Army Faction (RAF) member to bomb Lod airport, that he became a terrorist after being dumped twice by girlfriends. "At the time the RAF seemed a less demanding lover." These are the insights that make Lapierre¹s work sing and he is never afraid to find the humanity in even the most apparently evil of people. This is both a virtue and his undoing, as Lapierre sometimes allows his obvious affection for his subject cloud all judgment. This is especially true of his accounts of Lord Mountbatten of Burma. Mountbatten was a known charmer, but his record on the partition of India does not bear scrutiny. His fudging of the boundaries and the speed with which he acted was undoubtedly a significant factor in the mass bloodshed that followed. Lapierre lets him off the hook with a single sentence, "By extricating his country from the Indian wasp's nest without spilling a drop of British blood, Mountbatten had saved Great Britain from one of those colonial wars of which France had made a speciality". Even for a partisan observer, this simply will not do. But a journalist who cares too much is always preferable to one that doesn't care at all, and Lapierre especially so, for the range and depth of his reportage if nothing else. He harks back to a more innocent age when public figures were more innocent and trusting; few journalists would get anything like the access to equivalent figures today. Enjoy him, warts and all. You won't see his like again. --John Crace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In that spring of 1960, fifteen years after the collapse of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, two political tyrannies still held sway in Western Europe. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ashutosh Jhureley on 2 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Got "A Thousand Suns" as a gift and it was wonderful experience reading Dominique Lapierre. He is a genius story teller.. book is full of emotions, inspiration and admiration.

In addition to his account of experiences, interactions, interviews and research, this book is collection of excerpt from all other work from Dominique Lappierre (and Larry Collins) - O Jerusalem!, Freedom at Midnight, Is Paris Burning?: How Paris Miraculously Escaped Adolf Hitler's Sentence of Death in August 1944, City of Joy....

It is great book, worth having in your library. But keep in mind that it is his point of view, you and many others may not agree. I don't agree with few and hence not 5 star for me.

After reading "A Thousand Suns", I couldn't resist reading his other books. I read "O Jerusalem!". Then it was "Is Paris Burning?" and "Freedom at Midnight" and "Five Past Midnight in Bhopal".... read all these back to back.

-- ashutosh jhureley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on 2 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
Dominique Lapierre was one of the twentieth century's most prolific international journalists and a highly prolific author of both novels and historical works, many together with his lifelong coleague Larry Collins.
In this digest he takes us through some of his greatest journeys and encounters with people who shaped the course of events. He includes some of the encounters behind his joint works with Dominique Lapierre, such as his interview with Ehud Avriel, who helped Jews to escape Hitler's infernos to get to the Holy Land, and gathered together arms to help the fledgling State of Israel survive the overwhelming military force of six Arab armies who attacked the tiny state, as soon as the United Nations agreed to partition of Palestine.
He also describes the starvation and misery of Jerusalem's Jewish inhabitants during the siege of that city by Arab armies intent on massacring all of Jerusalem's Jews.
Some of the events described in his article about Avriel, who Lapierre was a good friend of are recorded in O Jerusalem!
He also recounts his interviews with Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was instrumental in negotiating the independence of India and it's aprtition into the two states of India and Pakistan.
Lapierre was with Mountbatten a few days Mountbatten's assassination by IRA terrorists in 1979.
He also recounts his meetings and interviews with the men behind the assasination of Mahatma Ghandi, as result of Gandhi's favorable policies towards India's Moslems.
These events form part of the bakground to Freedom at Midnight.
Lapierre details his relationship with the man who was executed for somebody else's crimes, Caryl Chessman, and Chessman's campaign from prison against the death penalty.
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By Tex Brave on 16 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
Great book with some crazy stories that just appear from nowhere...If you like Lapierre, you'll love this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Make Your Hobby Your Profession ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 13 May 2005
By Datar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
1. 'A Thousand Suns', a fascinating book by Dominique Lapierre, famous author of books like `Is Paris Burning' and `City of Joy' takes its title from and Indian proverb that the author chanced upon during his stay in South India. It comes from (as indicated by the author) "Behind every cloud, there are a thousand suns". A perfect message for life in present day's gloomy outlook of life.

2. It goes without saying that the book, which has such a beautiful and motivating title ought to be full of life energy and epitomize everything that is the very essence of meaningful life. This book actually is a byproduct, but a beautiful and useful one. It consists of 15 independent well researched real life stories, which the author encountered in the run up to doing a specific assignment mainly related to the prime characters or places related to these stories, initially as a news correspondent and later as a writer.

3. At the end thus, he filed his reports / wrote his books, but the enduring beauty of life enshrined in the background of these reports / books remained. The author has really done a wonderful service to mankind by writing this book; else such beautiful pearls of human endeavor, wisdom, perseverance and enterprise would have been lost forever.

4. Written in a simple style with stress on delivering the message right, the author might have not achieved perfection of narrative, but what needed to be achieved i.e. delivery of the essentials of beauty of life has been achieved with perfection.

5. It is rightly said that `make your hobby your profession and you would not have to work for a day'. It is evident from reading this book that Mr Lapierre seems to have not worked for a day but have thoroughly enjoyed this life following his passion for writing.

6. All those who have faith in life and mankind and all those whose faith on these is wavering for some reasons must read this book to derive the requisite benefit.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A rivetting, if not accurate, read 4 Jun. 2000
By Karina Bray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This dude knows how to write. Throughout the book, his passion, respect and sometimes joy as he describes life's adventures and the amazing people he has met permeate his writing. He brings the events to life, makes them very real.
In particular, his horrific account of the death of Caryl Chessman brought tears to my eyes. How could it be that in a so-called civilised country such deaths continue? I was outraged and appalled to learn from Lapierre that of the 500 death executions since 1977, 'seventy-five concerned men and women whose innocence was proven after their death.' 75 innocent people killed! Mon dieu! Er no, actually -- I've since found out from various anti-death penalty web sites that in fact 75 (or now around 85) people were released (ALIVE) from death row after their innocence was proven. The distinction, I think, is rather important!
He also claims that 'California has remained faithful to its gas chambers' as a manner of execution. As far as I could find out from various government and anti-death penalty web sites, California uses primarily, if not solely, lethal injection to dispose of its unwanted citizens.
Lapierre's account of 'tarantulas as hairy as apes' in Africa would excite ecologists -- who perhaps foolishly think wild tarantulas exist only in the Americas -- as much as his (unfortunately mistaken) sighting of a rhinoceros excited his host in the Ivory Coast.
Characterising Mohatma Gandhi with temporal accuracy, if somewhat dismissively, as 'an elderly half-naked Indian...living in poverty' no doubt adds credence to his amazement at the 'miraculous alchemy' and mutual understanding that existed between Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten. But is it really so miraculous when one considers that the middle-class Gandhi had studied for and received a law degree from London University and practiced as a barrister in South Africa for 20 years? Is it so miraculous that two educated men with experience in and a good understanding of each other's cultures could then understand each other?
Obviously any account of events is going to carry some subjectivity, like his rather derogatory characterisation of Gandhi, but it's disturbing when things presented as facts, like the huge number of innocent death row victims, are blatantly incorrect. It made me wonder how many other factual errors I'd inadvertantly absorbed as truth.
Nevertheless, it is great read, lively and interesting, and his contribution to the welfare of the poorest of the poor in India goes beyond admirable. Just take the 'facts' with a grain of salt!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Interesting 14 Feb. 2001
By Lesley West - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book by a man who has obviously had a fascinating life. He takes us across many continents and interviews many people, throwing in anecdotes about his life and interests.
However what stops me giving this book a 5 star rating is the fact that I feel that some of the topics are given superficial treatment (despite the lengths of the chapters), and there is too much emphasis on the author's own involvement. Fair enough, you might say, it is his book about his experiences, but I feel it is these experiences which should take central stage.
This is however only a small criticism, and it is a VERY interesting book, about interesting people in interesting times.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This compelling anthology moved me deeply! 30 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The events Dominique experienced in his professional and personal life are related in a very witty and soulful manner. It is a book I am proud to own in my library and give as a gift, knowing the proceeds are given to a great humanitarian cause!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
a must for anyone who has ever read a Lapierre book! 21 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful series of adventures and relationships brings the reader into the fascinating world of Dominique Lapierre. He carries us back through his many and widely varied "assignments" as a journalist and author over the last 50 +years. Dominique and his wife shared many of the experiences .He makes you feel he is talking directly to you and sharing feelings that are close to his heart. Anyone who has ever read "City of Joy" and was moved by the story of Calcutta slums will really be interested in the background stories he provides which lead the writing of the book. I was only familiar with the author through his "City of Joy" book but after finishing "A Thousand Suns" I am anxious to read his other books. Longtime fans of the author will certainly relish this latest addition to their Lapierre library but anyone reading these stories will be caught up in the author's ability to evoke a sense of hope in seemingly hopeless situations.
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