I never planned to write a book about my eventful time in the PMO as Dr Manmohan Singh’s media adviser from 2004 to 2008. That is why I never kept a diary, though I did make notes on key events during my tenure. Right up to the end of 2012, I was clear in my mind that I would not write a book about that phase in my life, despite being coaxed by friends in the media and pursued by friends in the publishing world. …I have combined personal, admittedly subjective, accounts of what I regard as important events with an analysis, hopefully objective, of policies and issues. While the notes I have kept have come in handy, much of what I have written is based on memory, refurbished by newspaper archives I used to get my dates and facts right. I have also spoken to a few key players of that period– who will remain anonymous–to refresh my memory and I thank them for their time. All the quotations in the book are substantially correct but some may not be verbatim.
(p. x, xiv-xv)
For a man “who never kept a diary” Sanjay Baru’s book, The Accidental Prime Minister, is packed with detail. Its a fascinating retelling of a period in history, but not written absorbingly unless you are a political analyst. As with any memoir it is a fine line between presenting the facts as it happened and putting it together in a readable form, even if it requires a bit of polishing. Frankly there is far better narrative nonfiction being published in book form or as digital long reads. Yet this will go down in history as a seminal book since it is written by Sanjaya Baru who had access to the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, who was also the architect of the liberalised economy introduced in 1991.
Sanjaya Baru The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh Viking, Penguin Books India, 2014. Hb. pp. 300. Rs. 599. ( E-book available.)
17 April 2014