4 out of 4 stars
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Border Post 99: No Man’s Land by Kedar Patankar
Published by: Global Mind Publishing
Along the Pakistan-India border, formed in 1947, there are stretches of land to which neither country has an undisputed claim. These stretches of land are referred to as “no man’s land.” There is an understanding, albeit unspoken and unwritten, that neither side will station soldiers or weaponry in no man’s land.
India’s Post 99 isn’t acknowledged on a map because it’s located in no man’s land. It is Lieutenant Mangesh Sharma’s turn to patrol Post 99 for the next six weeks. Having just graduated from the Indian Military Academy, he is all nerves. Despite reassurances from Major Jadhav, Sharma’s commanding officer, that it will be an easy but solitary six weeks, Lt. Sharma is not the only person or thing prowling around Post 99.
Some of my favorite books are centered around war and military conflict. They touch on the gruesomeness, heartbreak, terror, hypocrisy and even love and humor that go on during such tumultuous times. No matter how macabre, I’m pulled into these stories in such a way that I always end up strongly rooting for or against the characters (almost pleading with the author, please let something go right, don’t kill this one, it can’t happen this way); however, it can be exhausting. It was with these expectations that I read Border Post 99: No Man’s Land. I was pleasantly surprised that the primary conflict in the novel is not about the destructiveness of war, but whether or not individuals can overcome the divisiveness of war. Border Post 99: No Man’s Land is stimulating without being taxing, allowing it to appeal to those who do not necessarily enjoy books of a grim nature.
There isn’t anything I disliked about this book. I admit I found myself smiling at a few of Major Jadhav’s appearances. While I don’t believe it was the author’s intention, I could not help imagining the Major as a similar persona to the Chief (or 'C'), Hawthorne’s boss, from Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana. I have zero reason to think the author designed the Major in a comical fashion, even a dark one; however, if he did, it’s one of several subtle strokes of cleverness.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. The writing was uncluttered but not artless. The details in the writing are necessary, but not explained in an excessive manner. For example, within the evergreen forest that extends all around Post 99, the author mentions the presence of an oak tree and later a poplar tree. I thoroughly enjoyed Border Post 99: No Man’s Land and recommend it to everyone. It is a work of fiction, more or less taking place in modern day.
Border Post 99
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