Share via Email The eyes would widen and the head move from side to side in the striking Bengali gesture of affirmation. Journalists who covered the Bangladesh war in remember the phrase with a mixture of amusement and frustration. Lakh is the Indian word for ,, and it sometimes seemed as if the majority of Bengalis knew no other number, or, if they did, it was "crore" — ten million — at least when describing the atrocities and depredations of their West Pakistani oppressors. Reporters had no doubt that there were such atrocities. Some of them witnessed bloody incidents or their aftermath, but for the most part correspondents had to rely on the accounts of others.

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Shelves: non-fiction It is a book worth reading. Yes, Bangladeshis will hate it, and the reasons for the hate are obvious, since the book challenges the narrative established by the Bangladeshis regarding their secession from Pakistan.

No one likes their truths to be debunked, their heroes portrayed as petty terrorists. Sarmila is a neutral observer, being an Indian and herself a Bengali. However she manages to stick to history. This is not a book which discusses the politics of the secession movement. Its focus is It is a book worth reading. Its focus is the politics of war, and how war narratives are established, at times by defying the facts on the ground.

This is a historically well-established truth: The victor writes history. As such history is nothing but a fable, unless seen from all sides, and accommodates all points of view. So we see how facts, numbers, words and evidence were twisted in the history of the war to either magnify the killings that happened during the war by the Pakistan Army, or to hide the killings done by the Pro-Liberation forces.

The author admits at the beginning her intention was to focus at the micro level. She thus interviews various participants on all sides, the victims and the perpetrators.

In the end she establishes that the figure of 3 million killed by the Pakistan Army and , women raped is patently fabricated, as are many other incidents and events attributed to them. Since the foreign media had limited access much of what was published in the foreign press was hearsay and not actual facts on the ground.

The narrative thus found it easier to gain currency worldwide. This was a mistake that lost the Pakistan Army its PR war. Unlike what the reviewers before me claim, the interviewees are not anonymous. Their names and where they were at the time of the events are mentioned in the book. Another reviewer claims that the Hamood-ur Rehman Commission Report declared 3 million dead.

That is untrue. The Commission declared a figure of 26, Instead of being furious, perhaps my Bengali friends should read the book with a cool head. We, and that includes myself, as citizens are generally the victims of government lies and propaganda. I, myself have learnt that teh textbook history I was taught about the Partition differs from the truth.

Those who are today painted as villains in Pakistan are not villains at all. Hers is another addition to the list and not something new, albeit with a different approach.


Dead Reckoning by Sarmila Bose - review

Request Inspection Copy Description This ground-breaking book chronicles the war in South Asia by reconstituting the memories of those on opposing sides of the conflict. It was fought over the territory of East Pakistan, which seceded to become Bangladesh. Through a detailed investigation of events on the ground, Sarmila Bose contextualises and humanises the war while analysing what the events reveal about the nature of the conflict itself. The story of has so far been dominated by the narrative of the victorious side. All parties to the war are still largely imprisoned by wartime partisan mythologies.


Books and book chapters



Dead Reckoning



Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War


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