Saturday, 30 March 2013

Miscellaneous reads

Now here's a listing of a bunch of books that I found to be different from your general variety of books. Read on to find out more.

  1. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  2. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
  3. Strong Medicine by Arthur Hailey
  4. The Bourne Series by Robert Ludlum

The Godfather

This book revolutionised thinking and culture in America and was Puzo's seminal piece of work which laid the foundations for future crime novels. As most would already know, Godfather here refers to the head of a Mafia family and is responsible for the welfare of that family as well as the successful running of the illegal activities carried out by the family.
The book's lead roles emphasise on respecting the family heritage, the Italian culture and a do-or-die attitude to protect one's family. What makes the book remarkable is the portrayal of the Godfather, his persona, his ability to solve the toughest situations through reasoning and dialogue and the unbelievably smart advice he gives his kids even in the face of adversity and danger. It also brings to light the nature of the world, how a democracy functions(not like we didn't know this earlier), what greed and the desire for power make people do, results of lack of anger-management, betrayal and its consequences, the love for family et al. I especially liked the devious strategies employed to thwart one's enemies and traitors. This novel is the complete works. Everything you can encounter in life is depicted somewhere in this book.

I haven't had the opportunity to read the sequel to this book though, 'The Sicilian', but it did not gather the same kind of fame that The Godfather did.

Another one of Puzo's books, The Last Don, focused less on the crime part and more on the love part. But since it also contained devious plans and strategies to get rid of enemies, it didn't fail me. Absolutely enjoyed this book too. In many ways though, this one seemed like a quick read compared to the Godfather, probably cause of the writing style and content. Some of the content in Godfather felt unnecessary at times(probably because Puzo left you on a cliffhanger in the previous chapter and took you to another character in the following chapter) but this book had a continuous link throughout. Of course, there were cliffhangers, but it seemed like it was more structured and there was continuous action in the book. All said and done, both the books are well worth reading.

Godfather description by Tom Hanks

Check out this video to see what Tom Hanks has to say about the Godfather in You've Got Mail.

The Day of the Jackal
This is the best crime/action book out there, believe me! It absolutely blew my mind off. The detailed description of every step taken by the hired assassin, right from creating fake identities to identifying the vantage point for the kill, every bit of it was remarkably done. Add to that the fact that the high profile target is already alerted about the assassination attempt! The book has two perspectives - the assassin's and the secret agency's which is trying to identify and capture the assassin before he makes the kill - and both are equally enthralling. Saving the first few chapters of the book which laid the groundwork, I can't recall any moment during the rest of the book which made me feel like I was getting bored or why the author had to put those details in the book. No regrets and no time wasted in this book.

Strong Medicine
Heads up, this book is very very different from the remaining books I have recommended so far. It is kind of
like a documentary spruced up with mystery and thrill. Let me explain. Arthur Hailey is the kind of author who provides absolutely all the information that exists on a particular topic. So when he explains about the process by which experimental drugs turn into marketable medicines, he takes you step by step through the entire process spanning the different teams, approvals and organisations involved. Needless to say, this makes up for a lot of information on drugs. Now for the mystery and thrill part. Since the drugs are made by a company, it entails making money. So, Hailey gets the opportunity to show you the manner in which conglomerates think and how the decisions are taken to make profits. This is certainly a good read, but I warn you, there will be times when you feel an information overload. Since I liked the manner in which he portrayed the wrong actions of the individuals in the company to enhance their interests, as well the information about drugs/medicines, I enjoyed the book in its entirety.

The Bourne Series
A trilogy of action books, this is a wonderfully written series with detailed instructions on how to become an assassin as well. The first book I came across which had such detailed description on steps to take to live a life of an assassin. The series consists of:

  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
In the first book, the lead role Jason Bourne suffers from amnesia and is trying to fend off attempts on his life from terrorist groups, paid assassin as well as the CIA. At the same time, he is trying to recover his memory while safeguarding a woman who is stuck with him. Wow, quite a handful on his plate, even for an assassin. Ludlum pulls this off with grace and unparalleled writing skills. While reading an action scene in the book, you literally picture that happening right in front of you, every single move too, even the complicated assassination moves used in one-to-one combat.
I can't describe much about the next two books since that is bound to reveal Spoilers but to make sure you are interested in them, I can tell you this - Jason Bourne becomes the hunter in the next two books vis-a-vis the target as in first book. A trained assassin out to kill, now that's definitely a book worth reading, especially when it is written by Ludlum.

There are several other books on Bourne out in the market, but they aren't written by Robert Ludlum.