Kudos to Gotham Chopra for offering a spiritual discussion on escalating violence and terrorism around the world as well as scrutinizing the effects of global homogenization. Using the model of Buddha's journey from privileged prince to wandering pauper to a man of authentic power, Chopra (the son of Deepak Chopra) speaks to his own journey as an international journalist for Channel One. Chopra is at his best when he writes as a journalist, presenting vivid scenes, characters, and dialogue from the edges of war, terrorism, urban drug abuse, and natural disasters. From the streets of New York to the war in Chechnya to the hotbed of Pakistan, Chopra delivers an unromantic yet highly spiritual account of the wisdom of the earth's people. All the while he asks the right questions: "Why are we here? How are we all alike? What causes terrorism? How can we create a world with more peace?"
Sometimes Chopra sounds like a naive prince, eagerly ruminating age-old spiritual questions as if for the first time. While covering Hurricane Floyd in Florida he asks, "When you strip away your address, your inheritance, your job, your diploma, your credit cards, frequent flier packages, and your various PIN numbers, without all those things telling you who you are, are you able to find a true identity for yourself?" Yet, at other times he sounds like a humble pauper becoming a fully empowered man. "I seldom go to places to do stories without some element of fear inside me.... But the fear I feel in Pakistan is different. It stems from confusion, not only about who I'm going out to talk to, but who it is I am myself. I feel I am wearing two badges in particular--I am an American, I am Indian--and neither is welcome in this strange place." Although his dispatches aren't tightly connected, this roaming reporter does connect readers to a global network of fascinating and highly spiritual thinkers--not in the lofty monasteries or holy sights, but in the trenches of war, terrorism, disaster, and despair. And for this we thank him. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
This curious amalgam of New Age spirituality and war reporting is the second book from the second generation of Chopra ruminators. (Gotham is the son of bestselling author Deepak; his first book of nonfiction was Child of the Dawn.) Its framework is ambitious for such a slim volume. Examining nine steps drawn from the life story of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha "fare," fear, refuge, surrender, discipline, temptation, freedom, compassion and death Chopra travels to the world's hot spots (including Pakistan, China, Kashmir and the Yucatan) as a correspondent for Channel One. Although accounts of touring Chechnya with a band of unpredictable Russian guides and meeting with members of the Sri Lankan army referred to by the State Department as a "pack of bloodthirsty murderers" are gripping, Chopra's analysis of age-old conflicts seems strained and oversimplified. Unfortunately, he's not always mindful of the warning he receives from a recalcitrant Yucatan elder who accuses him of being an analyzer rather than a watcher: "There's a difference between witnessing the world as it is and trying to force your own reason around it." Chopra is at his best writing what he knows, especially when he interviews a Hindu uncle who was living in Lahore when Pakistan secured official partition from India in 1947. This account of the death of another relative at the hands of an angry Muslim mob is worthy of a book unto itself in fact, it may just be the saving grace of this one.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.