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The political-security environment in the Pacific: Evolutionary change

4.6 out of 5 stars 482 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 31 pages
  • Publisher: Defense Intelligence College (1991)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006DI42C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (482 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a truly great book. It chronicles the story of 4 individuals from very different sectors of the Indian Caste system.

Not only does it accurately portray the political and social situation in India in the 1970s,it reflects the predudices within the upper castes and the fatalistic attitude of the lower castes, formed from their religious beliefs that suffering is their destiny and the reward will be in the afterlife.

This story is overwhelmingly sad and also shocking as the reader can identify the ethical question of human suffering for a possibly laudable goal (in this case it is population control). However, the novel is also uplifting in a peculiar way; that individuals who struggle so hard to exist in appalling conditions can find joy in their lives is humbling. It also allows the reader to identify with the predudices and to see a situation from another side. Maybe at the end of the book, the reader feels that they have grown a little in spirit and have the capacity to be a 'better' person as a result.

For me, the mark of a great book is one that remains with you long after the back page is read. This is such a book.
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Format: Paperback
By far the best novel I have ever read. It is a joy to envision the milieu for this epic novel. You cannot help but be drawn to the characters and their plight. An often moving and emotional insight into the lives of India's street beggars and an excellent reminder of how deeply the caste system is embedded in this lost society. The portrayal of corruption, inherent at every juncture of 1970-80's India, leaves the reader with a sense of injustice and an added impetus to read on in the hope things may get better. A marvellous and compelling book, and a must on any bookshelf!
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Format: Perfect Paperback
This novel is really fabulous. Mistry is a spectacular storyteller with a wonderful way of writing about the minutiae of daily life and weaving it into a wider picture of what was happening in India in the mid 1970s. The story is incredibly depressing - I kept turning the page in the hope that things wouldn't get any worse, but they inevitably did - but the ending provides some sort of closure and a sense of the main characters gaining some happiness in their lives. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. Please read it!
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Format: Paperback
Rohinton Mistry is an unusual voice in contemporary literature. His compassion for his characters is evident throughout his writing, going to great lengths to create tangible, likeable subjects. Whereas many other recent booker-shortlisted authors have either tried to radically play with narrative form (David Mitchell) or are ostentatious in the style of their prose (John Banville), Mistry is an invisible presence in his novels. Although he is primarily addressing the bigger picture of 1970s India under the tyrannical 'Emergency' powers imposed by Indira Ghandi, the story is told very much on the human scale. Despite some of the horrors depicted in 'A Fine Balance', Mistry does not pummel the reader with them, and the comic side of the tragedy is never far away. The lightness of touch should not be confused with flippancy, but a taste for revealing the absurd in what was everyday life for many Indians at the time and indeed now. From the monstrosity of forced sterilisation to unbelievably brutal caste violence, the author prefers modest clarity in description, allowing room for the reader's mind to do the rest. As one character observes of another: "his sentences poured out like perfect seams, holding the garment of his story together without drawing attention to the stitches". This metaphor of tailoring is central in the book; the sewing together of disparate pieces to make something beautiful, greater than a sum of its parts. There is something of Dickens in this allegorical framework, and the life and humour brought to the poor and destitute.

'A Fine Balance' begins with the unlikely union of four people from different ends of the class spectrum, and spends the first half of the book looking back into their lives.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. I read it several months ago and it is still haunting me with its brilliance. One of the best books I have ever read.

I have always been fascinated by India and the vast extremes in fortune that co-exist there. I've visited the country and known a lot of Indians and one thing that has always struck me is that they seem to have no concept of self-pity or even sympathy for others. There seems to be an acceptance in the Indian culture that life is unfair. Sitting around thinking "woe is me" gets you nowhere. However the reverse side of that is that people don't really expect their circumstances in life to change dramatically. The American dream, that "anyone can be President" idea, doesn't exist in India. The class that you're born in will be the class you die in. Accept that, and move on.

Against this background, we have Ishvar and Omprakavash, who are born in a lowly caste. They are trying to improve their lot in life through hard work and taking calculated chances, but again and again life knocks them back. Dina, too, is a plucky heroine full of ingenuity. She is also trying to make the best of her circumstances.

If this was an American novel it might have had a neat and happy ending. Instead life deals these people some unspeakably terrible cards. There are parts of this book that are almost unbearable to read. Horrible, horrible things happen to Ishvar and his family. But how do they people react? They keep going. The connections they have with the people around them sustain them and get them through, and then life gets better (and the book gets easier), for a while. In the end it is Maneck, who on paper has the easiest circumstances, who has the least resilience to life's ups and downs.
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