I was deeply disturbed when 26/11 took place. I remember staying glued to the TV wondering when the madness will end and I remember feeling frustrated when the details began to tumble out. The details and revelations in The Siege are bound to shock you more.
Adrian Levy and Scott-Clark are investigative journalists whose previous works include The Meadow and Deception. The entire book is pieced together based on the information they received from their various sources. The acknowledgements and the source list reveal the amount of effort that has gone into writing the book.
The book is mainly centred around the Taj and hence there are only very brief mentions about the other targeted areas. It starts off with a list of ‘Dramatis Personae’ and these are the people whose accounts or stories have been woven into the overall narrative. The stage is then set with lavish descriptions of the Taj in the first chapter.
The writing is taut and incredibly fast-paced. Apart from the chapters on the actual events of 26/11 there are 2 chapters dedicated to the stories of David Headley and the terrorists. They reveal details that are bone-chilling. The brainwashing is not done through ad-hoc conversations but through systematic propaganda in areas of extreme poverty.
Another startling revelation that was made in the book was of course about “The Honeybee” – a point that was feverishly discussed in the media when the book first came out but was later quietly dropped.
The selflessness and courage of the Taj employees deserves special mention. The book talks of an instance where the employees formed a human chain to shield their guests from the onslaught of bullets. I salute them !
The Mumbai police officers who risked their lives to take on two gun-toting terrorists deserve all the praise we can possibly give. They were responsible for finally catching Kasab and killing his partner. The clinical precision with which the NSG carried out their mission is awe-inspiring. It makes you feel immensely proud of your soldiers and makes your heart swell with pride. At the same time, the delays and mistakes caused by red-tapism makes you fume ! It seems the NSG weren’t even provided with proper transit vehicles.
Its tough because it has a lot of uncomfortable truths but still its a definite must-read for everyone !