Review: ‘My Name is Mary Sutter’ by Robin Oliveira

By Sandhya Shyamsundar, WBNUJS, Kolkata

This riveting saga takes place in New York, during the American Civil War in 1861. Enter Mary Sutter, much respected, remarkable and adept midwife who’s sole intent is to become a surgeon and to prove equal to any man. But sadly, medical schools refuse to teach women and repeatedly turn her down. Mary suffering from a broken heart, heads off to Washington DC where Dorothea Dix having persuaded Abraham Lincoln, recruits a band of nurses to tend the Civil war wounded and, serve the army doctors. Further, she is assisted and encouraged by two surgeons who both, infatuated, fall for her and help her in every possible way in the hope that one day, she will establish her medical career. The book chronicles not only the story of miss Sutter but of each and every soldier involved in the war suffering at the hands of corrupt politicians, incompetent generals and surgeons who are forced to amputate several limbs in filthy and noxious camp sites.

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Review: “The Story of India” by Michael Wood

By Sandhya Shyamsundar, WBNUJS, Kolkata.

It is only seldom when one gets to see a documentary series which is visually so extravagant, narrated with such depth and one that almost covers the entire historical saga of a country that has withstood the ravages of time. Michael Wood’s ‘The Story of India’ is a BBC TV documentary series that covers the 10,000 year history of the Indian Subcontinent in six episodes. Wood traverses the length and breadth of India, meets the local people, archaeologists, historians and gathers immense information and showcases them with his own knowledge, adding flavor to the episodes.

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Faith, Taste and History by Aldous Huxley

“…a church once condemned by the Supreme Court as an organized rebellion, but now a monolith of respectability; a passionately loyal membership distinguished, even in these middle years of the twentieth century, by the old-fashioned Protestant and pioneering virtues of self-reliance and mutual aid—together, these make up a tale which no self-respecting reader even of Spillane, even of science fiction, should be asked to swallow. And yet, in spite of its total lack of plausibility, the tale happens to be true.”

Among tall stories, surely one of the tallest is the history of Mormonism. A founder whose obviously homemade revelations were accepted as more-than-gospel truth by thousands of followers; a lieutenant and successor who was “for daring a Cromwell, for intrigue a Machiavelli, for executive force a Moses, and for utter lack of conscience a Bonaparte”; a body of doctrine combining the most penetrating psychological insights with preposterous history and absurd metaphysics; a society of puritanical but theater-going and music-loving po-lygamists; a church once condemned by the Supreme Court as an organized rebellion, but now a monolith of respectability; a passionately loyal membership distinguished, even in these middle years of the twentieth century, by the old-fashioned Protestant and pioneering virtues of self-reliance and mutual aid—together, these make up a tale which no self-respecting reader even of Spillane, even of science fiction, should be asked to swallow. And yet, in spite of its total lack of plausibility, the tale happens to be true. (more…)