Publisher: Rupa
ISBN: 9788129124913
Pages: 147
Price: 195 INR

Abdul Kalam’s story is one that fascinates all. A young boy from Rameshwaram who becomes one of India’s most renowned scientists, apart from holding the highest post the country can offer. And to top it off, there is calmness and serenity in Kalam’s demeanour that makes everyone respect him.

In this book, Kalam takes a more personal side as he tells us all the things that helped him become what he is today. He offers not only his own personal stories, but also inspirational stories about how he beat the odds and survived the difficulties. `My Journey’ narrates the human side of Dr Kalam, as a boy, son, student, scientist, excelling despite severe struggles, and ultimately blossoming as a great human being, top class scientist and India’s first citizen.

The book has several chapters, each with a particular theme. Each theme is one aspect that influenced Kalam. These themes range from family, friends, failures, mentors, different memories and so on. In the first few chapters, he talks about the impact his close-knit family had on him and how he managed to be affected by a personal quality of each family member, mainly: his father’s serenity, his mother’s unconditional love, his sister’s encouragement and her husband, Ahmed Jalalludin’s wisdom. He also talks about how the peaceful co-existence of the three religions: Hinduism, Islam and Christianity in his village. The book deals greatly with Kalam’s scientific life and not so much with his presidential life. He writes in length about his experiments in rocket sciences and how he failed to become a pilot, his childhood dream. That is outlined beautifully in the chapter “When I Failed”. There is a chapter that describes the profound impact Dr. Vikram Sarabhai has had on him. The most touching part of the book is, of course when Kalam describes his parents’ and Jalalludin’s deaths.

The book is written simply, with short, crisp and precise sentences. There is a clear flow of thought in the book, which ensures that it doesn’t digress. The language is unpretentious and to the point. Kalam doesn’t shoot for literary elegance. This is the beauty of the book. You see the each point and the reason for it. The book, full of anecdotes and experiences is rich and motivating. Since each chapter has a theme, it feels like separate stories. But they are connected by a single thread: Kalam.

This book reflects the qualities of Kalam that we admire: simplicity, integrity and honesty. There is an issue of repeating points, but that is inevitable in autobiographical books. This is a good book that I would recommend for all.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

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