The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel

Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy. Penguin, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-312375-0
This impressive work of journalistic research and reconstruction offers a revelatory look inside the November 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, during which 10 highly trained gunmen deployed by the organization Lashkar-e-Toiba brought the world’s fourth-largest city to its knees, with four of the terrorists taking over the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The landmark’s physical size and symbolic stature account for the efforts by Lashkar, and it is likewise where Scott-Clark and Levy concentrate their narrative, contextualizing and recreating the events of three harrowing days in and around the damaged, fire-engulfed hotel. The authors offer multiple perspectives, including those of staff, guests, hostages, police, security, and political officials, as well as the gunmen’s Karachi-based handlers (who used online telephones and Google Earth to assist the killers). In addition to providing a riveting human drama, the book highlights the woeful lack of state security. The authors, meanwhile, explain the factional pressures and international political context driving Lashkar to expand its mission beyond Kashmir. As in their last book, The Meadow, longtime South Asia correspondents Scott-Clark and Levy deliver a meticulous, insightful, and dramatic account of an extraordinary episode in modern warfare, again emanating from the longstanding India-Pakistan contest over Kashmir. In so doing, they also persuasively illustrate the entangled personnel and politics characterizing the larger playing field of state and nonstate terrorism. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates (U.K.). (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 10/29/2013
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1580-6
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-0-14-312608-9
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-241-00366-4
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