As a shy child and insecure teenager, books were my assured friends; but I read less with the passage of time. To stay on track, I’ve signed up for the GoodReads Reading Challenge. This year I’ve challenged myself to read 20 books (a lot less than previous years, but it’s a start!). Here I’ll review recently published books of note. All others will feature directly on my GoodReads profile, which you can follow by clicking here.
Title: Laid to Rest: The Controversy Over Subhash Chandra Bose’s Death
Author: Ashis Ray
Publisher: Roli Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2018
Genre: Historical Non-Fiction
Purchase Link: Amazon
Historical literature is my favourite genre. So Ashis Ray’s book exploring the controversy surrounding Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s death intrigued me. Bose was a famous leader of the Indian freedom struggle. Despite being at variance with Gandhiji’s philosophy, he was popular with the masses. He formed a militant unit called the INA (Indian National Army) to fight the British in the Second World War. His sudden disappearance at the end of World War II shocked the world. Many loyalists and family members refused to believe the evidence of the plane crash that killed him.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Picture courtesy: www.oneindia.com
This sparked many fictional accounts of him living in exile, away from prying political eyes of the party in power, i.e., the Congress. Others believed he returned to India stealthily and imparted teachings in the guise of a holy saint. To lay the controversy to rest, many committees and commissions were formed over the last 70 years. Three of these were sponsored by different Indian Governments and many others by international ones. Private knowledge seekers did their own research. With the exception of the Mukherjee Commission of 2005, all findings concluded that he died in a plane crash on 18 August 1945.
Picture courtesy: www.indianexpress.com
Ashis Ray, the longest serving Indian foreign correspondent, seriously flexed his journalistic muscles for this book. Distantly related to Bose, he was closely involved with the P.V. Narasimha Rao government’s attempt to return Bose’s remains to India from their current resting place in Japan. Over 30 years of his career, he has extensively researched this topic in Taiwan, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Britain and the United States. In August, 2016 he started the blog www.bosefiles.info, which culminated in this book.
Ashis Ray. Picture courtesy: www.rolibooks.com
“Laid to Rest: The Controversy Over Subhash Chandra Bose’s Death”, is aimed at history buffs, political honchos who’ve denied the death for their personal gains, and ardent supporters of Bose. The book is written like an extended feature article, relying on the multitude of material that recorded the event. From the flight’s take-off till Bose’s death in a military hospital, his cremation and remains being stored at Renkoji Temple in Japan; hard evidence has been meticulously provided.
Having read the book, I can’t imagine proceedings taking place any other way. Ray has left no room for doubt by quoting multiple sources. At the book’s launch by Roli Books at Bikaner House, I was surprised when two separate members of the audience vehemently questioned Bose’s death despite overarching evidence. It showed me that people believe what they want to believe. Ray’s book is much needed proof to finally lay the controversy to rest and facilitate the final step for conclusive proof, a DNA test of Bose’s remains.
The book is tedious at times with great attention to detail, but I believe that makes it more conclusive! I’d recommend this book to everyone interested in Bose and this period of history.
Book rating: 4.5/5