Amritsar 1919

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Read 03/06/2019-16/06/2019

Rating 4 stars

Read for the 20 Books of Summer readathon hosted by 746 Books.

Back in April I watched Sathnam Sanghera’s film about the 100th anniversary of the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, India and was shocked at how little I really knew about the Raj, and about British brutality towards Indians. I mean, I knew we weren’t the blameless bringers of all things good that British history wants British people to believe, but I hadn’t realised the extreme distance we were from that fantasy. I wanted to know more about the massacre, so I reserved Kim A. Wagner’s book, published this year for the anniversary, at the library.

It’s an excellent exploration of what led up to the massacre and what followed, giving more weight to these elements of the meaning of Amritsar than to the massacre itself. He sets Amritsar in a wider social and political context that enables him to outline the need for reform in British politics and the reluctance of the ruling class to respond to that need. Continue reading

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Double Drink Story

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Read 03/05/2019-06/05/2019

Rating 2.5 stars

The full title of this autobiography is My Life with Dylan Thomas: Double Drink Story. It is Caitlin Thomas’s memoir of her life as Dylan Thomas’s wife. I bought it on a whim at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse on the last day of my holiday in Laugharne. Earlier in the week, I’d read Aeronwy Thomas’s memoir, which didn’t put Caitlin or Dylan in a particularly good light. I was interested to know Caitlin’s take on things. Continue reading

This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else

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Read 28/04/2019-03/04/2019

Rating 5 stars

This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else is a history of the Manchester band Joy Division, drawn from oral history interviews compiled by Jon Savage and from music press reviews and interviews, and fanzines. It made me nostalgic for a moment in my childhood where I could only ever have been an observer. Continue reading

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

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Read 08/03/2019-10/03/2019

Rating 3 stars

Claudia Rankine’s reflections on American society and the advent of loneliness is a strange and wonderful thing. I have no recollection of why I reserved it at the library other than that I read an article that I can’t now find in which the writer of the article referred to Don’t Let Me Be Lonely in a way that made me want to read it. Continue reading