Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category


Helen Keller: From Darkness to Light

– Shana Susan Ninan

To wake up each day and not being able to see your face in the mirror. From a world of darkness and silence, Helen Keller carved out an illuminated life for herself and those around her. ¬†Noted by Mark Twain as “the most remarkable woman he ever met”, this miracle worker taught herself to live in a world of sight and sound, not withstanding her handicaps.

George Sullivan’s Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures is a photo-book about the life and times of Helen Keller. Starting off with a foreword from Keller’s great grand niece, Keller Johnson Thompson, the book takes you through Keller’s childhood, life with tutor-friend Annie Sullivan, days in the vaudeville circuit, and later on, as a goodwill ambassador.

All the photos are black and white, retaining its original charm and finesse. There’s one of her in a sari and Indian jewellery, when she visited india in 1955, one with Jawaharlal Nehru, too. If one isn’t familiar with Helen Keller, you couldn’t make out that she’s blind, from the photos alone!

There’s this spectacular photo of the water pump at her cottage – Annie Sullivan had let Keller run her fingers under the water pump, and when she felt the cool waters comfort her, Sullivan spelt out w-a-t-e-r for her. A page from Keller’s book shows how she learnt to write by keeping the pencil close to a ruler on the line.

Keller could “read” a person’s words by keeping her fingers on his or her nose, lips and larynx. Even more interesting is how she “listened” to music by placing her fingers on a violin or an organ and felt the vibrations! Amazing. The pages are also numbered in Braille script, but not raised. The cover is excellent, with a shot of Keller’s eyes, in a violet shade.


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Rating: 8.5/10 (6 votes cast)

To The Last Bullet – Admiring Ashok Kamte

Vinita Kamte, widow of Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, who was killed during the Mumbai Terror Attack on 26 November 2008, released Kamte’s biography at the Taj Mahal hotel last Tuesday.

To The Last Bullet is a telling revelation of the errors and neglects on the part of the police and the government in dealing with the Mumbai attacks and its interrogation.

The biography, which is co-authored by senior journalist Vinita Deshmukh glorifies his sacrifice to the nation and his family.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (19 votes cast)

A Marxian’s Word

Marx and Engels: A Biographical Introduction by Ernesto “Che” Guevara

That this unpublished introduction was written by a practicing Commie and a devoted Marxian makes this book credible. Spanning 70-odd pages, Che recreates the lives of Marx and Engels: he looks at the both of them from their birth to death, and deals with everything in between. The book also has interesting photographs and ample quotes of theirs.

Che was profoundly influenced by Marxism, and practiced it in his contribution to the Cuban Revolution and also in Africa, which he visited in 1965. We can draw parallels between Marx’s and Che’s lives. Both had left their family, so to say, in order to widen the world’s and their own conceptualisation of Communism; Marx by only having to relocate to London and Che travelling the world.

Marx and Engels were born in Rhineland, in a gap of around two years, but they associated with each other only in their youth. Marx was way ahead of Engels in most aspects. Hegels would only be dreaming of putting his idea on paper when Marx would have already made his a book. In some ways, both of them crossed paths – in the books they frequently brought out and in their criticisms. Later, they co-authored books, Engels often played the “elder” brother to Marx, both ideologically and in his personal life.

Verdict: Communists, students, activists and political scientists will love this book: absolutely insightful and crisp. The list of books by both Marx and Engels, and Che’s own reading is very helpful.

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Rating: 8.3/10 (6 votes cast)