Have you ever wondered what a diplomat reads when they get some free time? Caught up amid daily despatches to the home country, managing their country’s ties with the host country is never an easy task. It takes a lot of diplomacy and understanding of the host country. Towards this end, most diplomats end up reading books, official notes etc and also learn the language of the host country in order to do their job. But apart from that, most diplomats are avid readers and they read a lot.
ALEX ELLIS, the British High Commissioner to India, gives us his list of five books that he’s read and thinks are absolute must reads for every one.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
“Because it gave me a grounding in fundamental principles which I have applied on everything from how to conduct an interview panel to how to negotiate.”
This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical), and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking. It will enable to you make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
“Because it gave me such fascination and excitement about India.”
Set in post-independence India, the novel follows the story of four families in Calcutta as the heroine’s mother hunts for a suitable boy to marry her off.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Because it has voices in it which are so interesting and appealing and so different to my own.”
Adichie’s Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation. The story follows the life of Ifemelu who leaves for America from Nigeria as her country spirals under military dictatorship. In America, Ifemelu suffers defeats and triumbs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. She strives and finds success as a blogger. Meanwhile, Obinze who had hoped to join her ends up living a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria. But after so long apart, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
“Because it is acutely atmospheric about the United Kingdom of the 1970s, the time of my childhood.”
The first of the George Smiley stories, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy follows George Smiley, a retired spymaster as he hunts down a Russian mole who has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process.
Courting India by Nandini Das
“I’m very much enjoying this book at the moment, not least for its descriptions of the ups and downs of a foreign Ambassador trying to get traction in India!”
In Nandini Das’s fascinating history of Thomas Roe’s four years in India, she offers an insider’s view of a Britain in the making, a country whose imperial seeds were just being sown. It is a story of palace intrigue and scandal, lotteries and wagers that unfolds as global trade begins to stretch from Russia to Virginia, from West Africa to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
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