While growing up, Apartheid and Nelson Mandela were very common subjects that were part of TV news everyday. Though, I had some idea of what was happening in South Africa, I had no idea about the details till I finished reading this book “A Rainbow in the Night” by Dominique Lapierre recently. I vaguely remember a college debate amongst friends talking about South Africa pulling out of Cricket World Cup if the referendum on Apartheid was not successful in favor of abolishing it.
It is really surprising that just 20 years back there was a regime as racist as South Africa and there could be millions of people suffering from Apartheid which means “separation”. An idea that was planned as brutally and as comprehensively as Hitler had done for Nazi Germany against Jews. The idea was that Blacks and Whites will co-exist in the same country but will be separated from each other for rights, economy, socially and physically. Of course, everything was decided by the Whites all the time and it was meant to bring in the complete subjugation of worlds oldest race.
The author has really made reading of history interesting for many subjects and even in this book, he has traced the history through hundreds of years from the time when Dutch came first to South Africa to create a stopover for their ships going to Asia. But the focus of book remains Apartheid and how it evolved over the years and what kind of struggle people had to endure to finally abolish it.
As usual to his style, the author has also talked about some of the good work that was done by some white people during all these years and that only highlights that in any race there are always bad and good people and these good people act as rainbow in the dark and keep the hope alive.
This has been one of my favorite books due to multiple reasons. It is written very well but more importantly this book opened my eyes towards the Arab-Israel conflict for the first time. My understanding of the whole situation was very little and consisted of some news about Israel and Yaseer Arafat and lot of bombings at that time. This book gave me some background and enough information on the conflict for me to appreciate the enormity of the situation and plight of people through hundreds of generations.
The book is based on very detailed research and interviews done by authors Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins and represents un-biased view of the events that led to the creation of the state of Israel. The struggle for creation of Jewish state did not start in 1948. It actually started much earlier when Jews started migrating to British occupied Ottoman Empire which consisted of Palestine and Jordan. Jews were few in number but bounded by a common thread looking for their own homeland and had very good and strong leaders amongst them. Arabs on the other hand were large in number but divided without a central leadership that could drive them.
The book describes very well, how the superior intelligence gathering and leadership of Jews and lot of help from their friendly countries helped them in their fight for the state of Israel. Even though United Nations had passed the resolution for state of creation of Israel and division of Palestine, there were many unsaid things including the issue of Jerusalem which is holy city for Jews, Arabs as well as Christians. In the end the state had to be won and Jews did win in some cases and have managed to create their nation for past 50 years but the conflict still goes on.
I have read more on the subject in other books but this book has been most authentic and un-biased till date.
This is also one of the most talked about book that became more famous after the movie adaptation. This was the first book that I had read from Dominique Lapierre and at that time I was not sure on what to expect. But the reviews about the book made me curious. On one hand it was a popular book but at the same time it was based on slum dwellers of Kolkata and written in documentary style. But this is where the unique way of writing of Dominique Lapierre scores way above all the other authors in same genre.
His research about the subject of the book is massive and he is able to really bring forth the true facts in his book. At the same time, the book is not the collection of facts. It is a very human story written with emotions and real characters. When I read the book the whole city of joy was in front of my eyes and I could feel the emotions of the characters in the book.
The story is about a rickshaw puller who comes to city from his village in search of job and how he ends up in a slum to make living for his family. The story also involves a young Polish Priest who comes to live in the city of joy to help poorest of the poor. How he overcomes all the hardships and how people start looking up to him is the endearing story of this book.
I have seen the movie as well and even though changes have been made in the movie, it is still a very good adaptation. Specifically, Om Puri has done an amazing work in this movie.