Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some good books

The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists by Michael Ross (Author), Jonathan Kay (Author)

Excellent memoir by a spy who worked for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Very well written. The author, Ross, is a Canadian by birth, who went to Israel by chance, liked the country so much so that he chose to convert to Judaism, became a Israeli citizen and then chose to serve in Israeli armed forces and then in famous Mossad. In this book, the author very tactfully writes about his life in Mossad. As a former secret officer, it is not possible to write about all his work due to its sensitive nature. That's where the authors excel. It's indeed an art to write interestingly when your hands are tied by code of ethics. A great book if you like to read about real life spies and their lives.

The Company She Keeps by Georgia Durante - Simply incredible story of one gutsy woman- the author- Georgia Durante. I could not really imagine one single person could go through so many testing times, trials and tribulations in one life time. Georgia not only went through many such tests but also emerged stronger and wiser from each experience. 'That does not kill you only makes you stronger' is no more true than in Georgia's case. Georgia grew up in Rochester. She went on to become one of the top models in 1970s. She was the famous 'Kodak Girl' for several years. She worked in other show biz related stuff. However, while she was going through her life, she also ran into many interesting people and situations created by them. Can you imagine a top model getting involved with mafia characters? On top of it, getting married to someone who was a pretty big guy in mafia those days? How about being the get away driver on some heists? Georgia had all those experiences and came pretty close to death many times. Then when she thought she was finally out of mafia related mess, a psycho gets into her life and becomes totally obsessed with her. This psycho nearly killed her in his obsession for her. Police could not help much against this maniac. So, Georgia had to go back to mob to get some help to get rid of this guy. Then FBI which was after mob was after Georgia. They wanted to cut some deals too. If you do not cooperate with FBI, they can set mob against you by spreading rumors that you are working against the mob. If you do cooperate with FBI, mob will come after you. What did Georgia do and how she came out of it? Then Georgia's daughter, who grew up in such dangerous conditions, became a drug addict. Georgia really did not need this. So, she put her in some de-addiction center in Montana. In the mean time, she was having enough problems from her third husband. While she thought, she finally met a good man, he died in a plane crash. Since Georgia had trusted all her money with her last man, she does not ready access to her own money. So, she is almost destitute once again! This goes on and on again. Ordinary people would have surely given up but not this gutsy woman. Finally, things start to change for better for Georgia. She now runs a very successful movie related business employing several people. Finally her life has been back on track. This is truly an inspiring book. At the end, like anybody who has gone through so much in one life time, Georgia also gets philosophical. She delivers some good points about life and God's choices etc. All in all a great read! If you watch bollywood films, have you watched 'Chandni Bar'? You may find some similarities. That movie ends in tragedy and in this one there is some good happening at the end.

Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin - Last year's financial disaster on the wall street is a great material for writers. As expected, many books have already come and many more are in the process. As expected, many writers wanted to be the first to come out with a book that chronicled those heady some 60 days in September and October of 2008 when everyone thought the world (at least the financial) has come to an end. It did seem so. With a major bank failing everyday, shotgun mergers between banks brokered by federal government, banks being nationalized. Everyone asked what's going on and nobody really knew other than what we read in news papers. No complete picture. This book, really a big one in size, systematically chronicles the disaster as seen by some of the very people who were part of it. All credit to the author who has beautifully dramatized the book. You really get a ringside seat and watch the meltdown blow by blow. Great book!

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