I’ve read other books by Sidin, and enjoyed them – they have been light, fun reads, just like his tweets. Entertaining, and light-hearted. When I found out on Twitter that he was soon to publish a non-fiction book, I was intrigued. Even more so, when I read the subject of the book. Sounded just like the sort of books I love. I just had to get my hands on it. And so I did. It helped that the Kindle edition got released in the UK, which is something that never seems to happen with Indian authors’ books.
India. A land where history, myth and email forwards have come together to create a sense of a glorious past that is awe-inspiring…and also kind of dubious. But that is what happens when your future is uncertain and your present is kind of shitty—it gets embellished until it becomes a totem of greatness and a portent of potential. Sidin Vadukut takes on a complete catalogue of ‘India’s Greatest Hits’ and ventures to separate the wheat of fact from the chaff of legend. Did India really invent the zero? Has it truly never invaded a foreign country in over 1,000 years? Did Indians actually invent plastic surgery before those insufferable Europeans? The truth is more interesting—and complicated—than you think.
That pretty much sums up the book. We’ve all come across these glorious facts about India. Of how India invented zero, and how Indians were the pioneers in Plastic Surgery, and more. How many of these are really true? Were we truly world leaders in most things until the invaders plundered our country and brought it to the state it is today? Are we being gullible by believing it all or are we being needlessly sceptical by being cynical ? Well, read the book to find out. Sceptical patriot that Sidin is, he has gone around digging into archives of libraries, read up stuff and put together a very interesting book indeed. What sets this book aside is the author’s style of writing. He includes personal anecdotes and I personally loved the way he introduces most of the chapters, and the way he ended each of his analysis- with a ‘Sceptical Patriot Score Card’, showing exactly where we stand in terms of these truths/myths. The historical facts that he recounts are fascinating, some I have read about and others which make me want to go and dig up the books he has listed and read them. Cover to cover.
His writing style reminds me a lot of Bill Bryson’s books, but is more relatable, for me, as he speaks of things which I can relate to much more, so it made a great read for me. The subject was engrossing and it was absolutely unputdownable- I actually wished I could call in sick at work and read the book at home, but better sense prevailed.
What I liked most about the book was the last chapter. The way the author ended the book. Some of the things he talks about, I wish a lot of would read and understand. India would definitely be a much better place for that.
I know that sometimes people are put off by non-fiction books, but I think this one is the one to start with if you worry about a non-interesting book putting you off.
I would easily rate it 4.5/5. A brilliant book, and one that I enjoyed immensely.
About the Author
Sidin Vadukut is a journalist, columnist and blogger. He has an engineering degree from NIT Trichy and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad.
In a career spanning around a decade he has made automotive parts, developed online trading platforms, almost set up a retailing company and had a sizeable portion of a tree fall on his head. He is currently an editor with the Mint business newspaper.
This book is available on Amazon(UK) and Flipkart.