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Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India Paperback – April 13, 1998


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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

India is a land of contrasts. It is the world's most populous democracy, but it still upholds the caste system. It is a burgeoning economic superpower, but one of the poorest nations on earth. It is the home of the world's biggest movie industry after Hollywood, as well as to the world's oldest religions. It is an ancient civilization celebrating fifty years as a modern nation. Now, as never before, the world wants to know what contemporary India is all about.

As she has proved in three previous books--her wry take on the marketing of the mystic East in Karma Cola; the rich historical saga of Raj; and the beguiling tales of A River Sutra--there is no better guide to India's multihued mosaic than Gita Mehta. She knows India in all its rich detail--its folkways and history, its culture and politics, its ancient traditions and current concerns. In Snakes and Ladders, she gives a loving but unflinching assessment of India today, in an account that is entertaining, informative, and wholly personal.

About the Author

In addition to her books Karma Cola, Raj, A River Sutra and Snakes and Ladders, Gita Metha has written articles for a number of Indian, European and American magazines, and filmed documentaries for European and American television. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and published in twenty-seven countries. She lives in New York, London and India. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; New title edition (April 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385491697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385491693
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.9 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ashish Mathur on November 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have read many books describing the life, culture and natives of India. Being an Indian, I must say that this book was not only a good narration of India but also came close to real India on many aspects. The collection of essays is great and covers many aspects with interesting and ammusing language. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested to know about life in India.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard Wells on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
In the past six months I've read at least twice that many books about India, and of them all "Snakes and Ladders" and Wm. Dalyrmple's "City of Djins" have been the best. Gita Mehta is an exceptional writer who manages to combine fact and emotion in a series of elequent essays. The last 50 years in Indian history - her first 50 years of independence - are a swirl of social change in a country that is aswril in its every moment. When you think "India" you must think of a dance of a billion richly colored veils. Ms. Mehta plucks veil after veil from the dance and by describing the veil she describes India. It's a remarkable achievement, and a real insiders view into the politics, arts, and life of an extremely complex nation. Ms. Mehta captures India in a short 220 pages and in doing so presents a view that other authors might take volumes to display. Highly, highly recommended!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on September 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I knew next to nothing about modern India, so I learned a lot from these breezy essays. Sure they wonder all over the place -- chapters jump from political topics to the draught to Indian yuppies, but for the casual reader, the essays are very entertaining and informatative. The effect is that of reading several short travelogues about India all in a row. Mehta writes well and makes some sharp observations about India's political development. I wanted to see more description of the various parts of India (the desert like areas versus the huge cities and vast fertile plains) because it is a land of such great contrasts. Most of the essays left me wanting to know more. I enjoyed the personal anecdotes from the author's childhood. Not a history book, but a good and easy to read overview for the Indian novice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Meredith Mani on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have trashed this writer in the past so trust me when I say this is one of her finest works. It's emotive, beautiful, descriptive (without being overt), and a wonderfully written feature about India. This book both instructs and entertains. I was engrossed from the start to the finish. As someone who recently moved to India I would not hesitate to reccomend it to anyone who wants to visit or has an interest in India.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By eswar@mbu.iisc.ernet.in on January 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
A very beautifully written book. The author has been very unbiased and yet so affectionate in her narration. Its a book all Indians can relate to and all foreigners must read before coming to India. She has captured all the vistas India has to offer, good, bad and ugly! Terrific!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By saliero on March 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some time ago I read a really outstanding piece of fiction about India - "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry. I am very pleased to have subsequently read this.
It's a collection of very easy to read short essays on Indian politics and society since Indendence (including the author watching Gandhi's funeral pass as a 5 year old).
It covers many of the events forming the basis of A Fine Balance, especially The Emergency period. It also brings things more up to date.
I really like reading it after A Fine Balance - I might not have been so interested, or it might not have meant so much before. In particular, things like references to crowds being herded together for Indira Gandhi's rallies etc - those sorts of events were just so vividly conveyed in Fine Balance.
Mehta delivers information about the vast and fascinating mosaic that is India in bite-sized and very digestible pieces, but she certainly doesn't gloss over the uglier seams in Indian political life.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sean Burke on November 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
At its worst, /Snakes and Ladders/ is, indeed, portentous, ancedotal, and loosely tethered to the finer details of fact.
But remember, /Snakes and Ladders/ is not a 10-volume, library-edition encyclopedia of Indian history 1900-2000. It's just a light little book of pleasant essays, many of them having appeared in magazines. I consider it the Indian equivalent of a Molly Ivins book -- interesting and entertaining, and a delightful read to the foreign reader (Ivins, non-Texan; for Mehta, non-Indian).
The general emotional tone of the book is very interesting -- it's the tone of someone not exactly willing to write a rousing patriotic hymn to their country, but yet still wanting to express quite a bit of hope about the prospects of continued democracy there. Frankly, that makes it refreshing to read -- especially considering that the country is question is one that most foreigners think of as a source for new strains of hepatitis, not insights into the democratic process.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
As someone who has never loved reading serious, academic historical studies, I found this book delightful. My "knowledge" of foreign cultures and history comes from traveling, from reading fiction, and from studying art. And when I wanted to learn more about India, a country of huge size and population, of countless religions and traditions, and of a mystifying political history, I couldn't even imagine attacking the tomes it would take to gain even a small understanding of this country. Though it may be anecdotal and personal, this book is just what I was looking for, and these anecdotes and personal recollections will stay with me longer than pure scholarship would have!
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