Turning Leaves 6

Spare by Prince Harry


Memoir of a Senior British Royal


The book that the whole world was waiting to read. The book that has sold a “record” 1.4 million copies in just 24 hours and has sold more than 3.2 million copies worldwide after just one week of publication. Prince Harry's “Spare” memoir will likely rank among the bestselling memoirs of all time, they say. I would agree with that. The book has been beautifully crafted. The 416 pages is interesting and available in digital, paperback, and hardcover formats and has been translated into fifteen languages. There is also a 15-hour audiobook edition, which Prince Harry narrates himself.


If you want to get voyeuristic pleasure looking into the strife and conflicts of the British Royal Family, a family that is a thousand years old, in which sibling rivalry and familial favoritism seems to be just as vicious as in any other common family then this book is for you. If you want to read about a young prince who lost a much beloved mother at the tender age of twelve and thus remained traumatized into his adulthood this book is for you. This book is about a sensitive young man with the best of intentions to do good but who is prevented from doing so because of intense and absurdly hostile negative press who literally ‘pick’ on him to make their fortunes. However, should a high-born prince be so sensitive like us commoners? Shouldn’t he be immune to the ever-vigilant and persistent press? To leave his own much-loved country, family and friends because of intrusive members of the press seems rather a far-fetched reason for taking such a life-changing decision.

The book opens with the dramatic death of his beloved mother and the tough times the prince went through to adjust to the void left in his life. Part 2 is about his military training programs, actual duties in combat zones and his travels to the North and South Poles. The third and last part is, of course, you’ve guessed it, his courtship, marriage and settling down in California. There are candid descriptions of many things private but that is the nature of modern biographies and memoirs. The book is hugely honest and outspoken but tilts often to ‘oversharing’. Each of the three parts, is written in short numbered sequences making for easy and interesting reading. But what I liked the most is that one gets to read first-hand the Queen’s English! And, to realize that the English that we use, both written and spoken, is exactly the same! How thrilling that was!


But all said and done, one finishes reading the book feeling sympathy for a sweet, well-meaning prince, relegated to leading the life of an exile in a faraway land away from his father and brother.



Turning Leaves 5

Home in the world by Amartya Sen

Published: 2021

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 395


Memoir of the 1998 Nobel Prize Winner for Economics

This memoir is, of course, first and foremost, full of economics. It is a first-hand account of actual happenings in the academic world of economics during the fifties into the seventies of the last century. The author, Amartya Sen, outlines his life, beginning with his early years spent in Mandalay in Burma, then Dacca, finally settling into school without walls in Santiniketan, West Bengal in India. He mentions how he was influenced by his scholar grandfather and the Tagorean philosophy andsystem of education. He attends college in Calcutta graduating to study further at Trinity College, Cambridge. He returns back to India to teach at Jadavpur University. Later, he teaches at D-School at Delhi, the capital of India. The book is about a distinguished journey by a brilliant scholar and thinker who has more than one home in this world and is comfortable in all his diverse homes.


This book is for economists. There are many references to well-known economists of the mid-20th century and their work. Books are referred to which will make for further reading, both for economists and for readers like us, who know no economics. This book is for Bengalis, the people of the state of West Bengal, India and the people of Bangladesh. There is a lot of history which they would find interesting. The Rivers of Bengal and The Urbanity of Calcutta are particularly interesting to read. Sen has spoken eloquently on them. The ancient remains found scattered around the general Calcutta region indicates why the British founded the city in the place where they did. And, if you happen to be a Vaidya then you definitely need to read this book written by the most globally honored Vaidya of all.


Amartya Sen comes from a family of professors and scholars. He says that he was more comfortable in expressing himself in Bengali and Sanskrit till he mastered English. So, he proves that it is more important to be a good student of a language rather than to be a ‘native speaker’ of it. The book is most eloquently written. The style is simple and easy to read. The tone is friendly and young. One can go through the almost 400 pages quickly and easily.


This is a truly global book. For world citizens this book is a must read, not only for knowing about economics from a Nobel Prize winner but for knowing about Bengal and about British India.  The book ends rather abruptly. We hope that that means there will be a sequel soon.    







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© Debjani Sengupta 2019