4 out of 4 stars
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In Border Post 99: No Man’s Land, Kedar Patankar tells the story of two soldiers ordered to occupy military positions alone in the no man’s land between India and Pakistan. Each soldier, though posted alone, has his own story and adventure while at their single post.
Lieutenant Sharma of the Indian army is fresh out of officer training, and we learn of his fears and frustrations on a first assignment on his own but with contact with military command. The post is lonely, yet excitement arrives when Shamar encounters a lone Pakistani soldier, Captain Khan, with a similar assignment from his military command. Shamar takes his responsibility seriously, and although instructed not to shoot his enemy, he proceeds to carry out a battle strategy. Khan is an experienced soldier and reacts to Shamar’s attacks. The story unfolds as another enemy threatens both soldiers and they devise a survival strategy. The author cleverly closes the tale with a conclusion that gives the reader surprising satisfaction.
I like the fascinating description of each of the main characters which parallel their lives through their family backgrounds that neither one learns of until toward the end of the tale. I like the way the author brilliantly portrays the suspense of soldiering for an individual. This book gives the reader insights into the way soldiers have to cope with their assignments even as they tackle life’s problems which can be tricky. It becomes apparent that there are no simple solutions but individual efforts are worth the effort. As a reader, I found myself drawn to one person and then to another with a growing understanding of each character’s point of view. Like the characters, I dislike the careless disregard that top military commands have for the individual soldier.
The writer immediately attracts the reader’s attention and builds a case for him or her to keep reading. The reader will be pleasantly surprised with the depth and breadth of a narrative which appeals to someone who is interested in the way military people cope with their lives. This book is for someone who wants to understand how the military operates at a personal more than a military level.
The organization of this book draws the reader into each character’s story and family history with parallels that are striking. The pace of the action is enhanced by sub plots that keep the characters interacting with one another. The dramatic ending is strong. The perspective of no man’s land fits into a modern understanding of two nations in tension at a political level yet with boots on the ground that must cope with reality. The tone of the author’s writing is personal and draws the reader into the thoughts of the characters involved. Both narrative and dialogue skillfully bring the reader closer and closer to two people who get to know one another.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to anyone interested in soldering or military personnel. The book is well written and focuses on the personal side of military actions which are often confused by the soldiers who are expected to obey orders without question although both those who give orders and those who receive them know that there is more to military command than logic.
Border Post 99
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