Archive for the ‘soldier’ Category

Maharshi Karve

June 14, 2007

MAHARSHI KARVE BOOKS ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES

 By

 VIKRAM KARVE

 I have before me three books on Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve:

 (i) His autobiography titled ‘Looking Back’ published in 1936.

 (ii) Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar published in 1958 by Popular Prakashan Bombay (Mumbai)

 (iii) Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years published on 18 April 1963 ( His 106th birth anniversary) by Hingne Stree Shiksan Samstha Poona (Pune)

Allow me to tell you, Dear Reader, a bit about these books which describe the life and times of Maharshi Karve and tell us about the monumental pioneering work of one of the foremost social and educational reformers of India. It would be apt to start with his autobiography – Looking Back, and let Maharshi Karve describe his life and work from his own point of view in his simple yet fascinating style. I am placing below a Book Review of his autobiography (which I had reviewed a few months ago) for your perusal:

 Book Review of The Autobiography of Maharshi Karve: “Looking Back” by Dhondo Keshav Karve (1936)

 Dear Reader, you must be wondering why I am reviewing an autobiography written in 1936. Well, till recently I stayed on Maharshi Karve Road in Mumbai. I share the same surname as the author. Also, I happen to be the great grandson of Maharshi Karve. But, beyond that, compared to him I am a nobody – not even a pygmy. Maharshi Karve clearly knew his goal, persisted ceaselessly throughout his life with missionary zeal and transformed the destiny of the Indian Woman. The first university for women in India – The SNDT University and educational institutions for women covering the entire spectrum ranging from pre-primary schools to post-graduate, engineering, vocational and professional colleges bear eloquent testimony to his indomitable spirit, untiring perseverance and determined efforts. In his preface, Frederick J Gould, renowned rationalist and lecturer on Ethics, writes that “the narrative is a parable of his career” – a most apt description of the autobiography. The author tells his life-story in a simple straightforward manner, with remarkable candour and humility; resulting in a narrative which is friendly, interesting and readable. Autobiographies are sometimes voluminous tomes, but this a small book, 200 pages, and a very easy comfortable enjoyable read that makes it almost unputdownable. Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve writes a crisp, flowing narrative of his life, interspersed with his views and anecdotes, in simple, straightforward style which facilitates the reader to visualize through the author’s eyes the places, period, people and events pertaining to his life and times and the trials and tribulations he faced and struggled to conquer. Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve was born on 18th of April 1858. In the first few chapters he writes about Murud, his native place in Konkan, Maharashtra, his ancestry and his early life– the description is so vivid that you can clearly “see” through the author’s eye. His struggle to appear in the public service examination (walking 110 miles in torrential rain and difficult terrain to Satara), and his shattering disappointment at not being allowed to appear because “he looked too young”, make poignant reading. “Many undreamt of things have happened in my life and given a different turn to my career” he writes, and then goes on to describe his high school and, later, college education at The Wilson College Bombay (Mumbai) narrating various incidents that convinced him of the role of destiny and serendipity in shaping his life and career as a teacher and then Professor of Mathematics. He married at the age of fourteen but began his marital life at the age of twenty! This was the custom of those days. Let’s read the author’s own words on his domestic life: “… I was married at the age of fourteen and my wife was then eight. Her family lived very near to ours and we knew each other very well and had often played together. However after marriage we had to forget our old relation as playmates and to behave as strangers, often looking toward each other but never standing together to exchange words…. We had to communicate with each other through my sister…… My marital life began under the parental roof at Murud when I was twenty…” Their domestic bliss was short lived as his wife died after a few years leaving behind a son… “Thus ended the first part of my domestic life”… he concludes in crisp witty style. An incident highlighting the plight of a widow left an indelible impression on him and germinated in him the idea of widow remarriage. He married Godubai, who was widowed when she was only eight years old, was a sister of his friend Mr. Joshi, and now twenty three was studying at Pandita Ramabai’s Sharada Sadan as its first widow student. Let’s read in the author’s own words how he asked for her hand in marriage to her father – “I told him…..I had made up my mind to marry a widow. He sat silent for a minute and then hinted that there was no need to go in search of such a bride”. He describes in detail the ostracism he faced from some orthodox quarters and systematically enunciates his life work – his organization of the Widow Marriage Association, Hindu Widows Home, Mahila Vidyalaya, Nishkama Karma Math, and other institutions, culminating in the birth of the first Indian Women’s University (SNDTUniversity). The trials and tribulations he faced in his life-work of emancipation of education of women (widows in particular) and how he overcame them by his persistent steadfast endeavours and indomitable spirit makes illuminating reading and underlines the fact that Dr. DK Karve was no arm-chair social reformer but a person devoted to achieve his dreams on the ground in reality. These chapters form the meat of the book and make compelling reading. His dedication and meticulousness is evident in the appendices where he has given datewise details of his engagements and subscriptions down to the paisa for his educational institutions from various places he visited around the world to propagate their cause. He then describes his world tour, at the ripe age of 71, to meet eminent educationists to propagate the cause of the Women’s University, his later domestic life and ends with a few of his views and ideas for posterity. At the end of the book, concluding his autobiography, he writes: “Here ends the story of my life. I hope this simple story will serve some useful purpose”. He wrote this in 1936. He lived on till the 9th of November 1962, achieving so much more on the way, was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters ( D.Litt.) by the famous and prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1942 followed by Universities of Poona in 1951, SNDT in 1955, and Bombay(LL.D.) in 1957. Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve received the Padma Vibhushan in 1955 and the India’s highest honour the “Bharat Ratna” in 1958, a fitting tribute on his centenary at the age of 100. It is an engrossing and illuminating autobiography, written in simple witty readable storytelling style, and it clearly brings out the mammoth contribution of Maharshi Karve and the trials and tribulations he faced..

Epilogue

I (the reviewer) was born in 1956, and have fleeting memories of Maharshi Karve, during our visits to Hingne Stree Sikshan Samstha in 1961-62, as a small boy of 5 or 6 can. My mother tells me that I featured in a Films Division documentary on him during his centenary celebrations in 1958 (I must have been barely two, maybe one and a half years old) and there is a photograph of him and his great grand children in which I feature. It is from some old timers and other people and mainly from books that I learn of his pioneering work in transforming the destiny of the Indian Woman and I thought I should share this. I have written this book review with the hope that some of us, particularly the students and alumni of SNDTUniversity, Cummins College of Engineering for Women, SOFT, Karve Institute of Social Sciences and other educational institutions who owe their very genesis and existence to Maharshi Karve, read about his stellar pioneering work and draw inspiration from his autobiography.

 Book Reviews of two books on Maharshi Karve

 As I have mentioned earlier, two other good books pertaining to the life of Maharshi Karve which I have read are: Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar, Popular Prakashan (1958) And Maharshi Karve – His 105 years, Hingne Stree Shikshan Samstha (1963).

The biography ‘Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar’ was commissioned and published by the Dr. DK Karve Centenary Celebrations Committee on 18th April 1958 the birth-centenary of Dr. DK Karve (Thousands attended the main function on 18th April 1958 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai which was addressed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister). The author, GL Chandavarkar, then Principal of Ram Mohan English school, has extensively researched the life of Dr. DK Karve, by personal interaction with the great man himself, reminiscences of his Professors, colleagues and students, and his two writings Looking back and Atma-Vritta. The author acknowledges with humility: “This is the story of the life of a simple man who has risen to greatness without being aware of it in the least. It is being told by one who can make no claim to being a writer” and then lucidly narrates the story of Maharshi Karve’s life in four parts comprising twenty four chapters in simple narrative style. Part I, comprising eight chapters, covers the early life of Dhondo Keshav Karve, from his birth to the defining moment in his life – his remarriage to Godubai who was widowed at the age of eight, within three months of her marriage, even before she knew what it was to be a wife. The first chapter vividly depicts the life and culture of Murud and Konkan in a brilliantly picturesque manner and is a fascinating read. The narrative then moves in a systematic manner encompassing the salient aspects of Maharshi Karve’s life till his birth centenary in 1958. The biographer comprehensively cover Maharshi Karve’s marital and work life, but does not throw much light on his relationships with his four illustrious sons, who were well-known in their own respective fields of work. The author avoids pontification and writes in friendly storytelling style which makes the book very interesting and readable, making it suitable for the young and old alike. I feel an epilogue covering the remaining years of his life would make the biography more complete. There is a reference index at the end and I found this book to be quite a definitive biography which could serve as a source for knowledge and inspiration to readers interested in the life and work of Maharshi Karve. The 233 page book was published by Popular Book Depot Mumbai in 1958 and I picked up a copy priced at rupees forty at the International Book Service at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune a few years ago.

Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years, published on his 106th birth anniversary, is a pictorial album depicting the life and activities of Maharshi Karve. In today’s parlance it may be called a ‘coffee table’ book, but it is a memorable reference book of lasting souvenir value which is a must for every library. The chronologically arranged sketches, photographs and captions tell Maharshi Karve’s life-story in a seamless manner. There are photographs of historical, heritage and sentimental value highlighting important milestones in his life and work. (If you want to see my picture, turn to page 98 and have a look at the small boy holding Maharshi Karve’s hands and looking at the camera. I may have been just one and a half years old then and barely able to stand!). This book is indeed a ‘collector’s item’ and was priced at a princely sum of rupees ten at the time of publication. If you wish to learn more about Maharshi Karve and draw inspiration from his life and work, do read these three books. And please do let me know if you come across literature on Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.

 VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE

 Pune

 India

vikramkarve@sify.com

 vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 http://karve.wordpress.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

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BOOK REVIEW – MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD

May 21, 2007

 

 

Book Review by Vikram Karve 

  

The Book: 

TITLE: MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD 

AUTHOR: RICHARD FARSON 

PUBLISHED: 1996 TOUCHSTONE
NEW YORK
 

ISBN 0-684-80080-2 

 [REVIEWED BY VIKRAM KARVE] 

 

 

  

Leafing through my beloved books on my bookshelves is one of my favorite pastimes. I love the company, the smell and the feel of books, as I leisurely browse and glance through the varied books I have collected over the years. And maybe select one for perusal.  

This morning I picked up a delightful management classic called Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson. I acquired my copy on 06 May 1999 in the Pune Book Fair (that’s what I’ve written below my name on the first page). It is a laconic book which explores the paradoxes of management in an extremely witty manner.  Let’s browse through this wonderful book together.   

In his foreword Michael Crichton writes: “In this book Richard Farson reports more than experience; he gives us …wisdom”.  

The 172 page book has eight parts and thirty three chapters, and as the author says in the introduction, these chapters need not necessarily be read in sequence, but in whatever order appeals to the reader. Let’s do just that.  

“Morale is unrelated to productivity” the author says chapter in 27, turning conventional HR wisdom on its head. He deprecates management practices of pampering and mollycoddling employees (which one reads of particularly in the IT sector), giving gifts, holding parties, recognizing birthdays, gestures of goodwill and other HR gimmicks designed to court employee favor as a calculated morale-raising strategy. Self-actualized people, who were among the greatest achievers in our society, were not necessarily comfortable or happy; they could be ruthless, boring, stuffy, irritating, and humorless and organizations are absolutely dependent on such people. You don’t agree, don’t you? That’s why you must read this book, which turns things you have learnt topsy-turvy and gives you something to think about.  

Effective Managers are not in control, emphasizing the vulnerability requirement in a leader. Absurdly, our most important human affairs – marriage, child rearing, education, leadership – do best when there is occasional loss of control and an increase in personal vulnerability, the author says, and compares leadership with romance. If you know how to have a romance, it isn’t a romance, but a seduction. Not knowing how to do it makes it a romance; it’s the same for leadership, an intangible quality, management techniques don’t work. Genuineness in relationships is the only way to lead professionals.  

Training leads to the development of skills and techniques, and suggests the possibility of control. Education leads to information and knowledge, which suggests the possibility of understanding, even wisdom.  Wisdom involves humility, compassion and respect – essential to effective leadership!  

Training makes people more alike, education tends to make people different from each other, so the first benefit of education is that the manager becomes unique, independent. “Don’t try to train leaders. Educate them!” the author exhorts.  

Planning is an ineffective way to bring about change. Too often it is an empty ritual designed to make management feel there is something going on in that area.  

There are paradoxes and paradoxes, absurdities and absurdities!   

Individuals are strong, but organizations are not! I thought it was the other way around. 

The better things are the worse they feel, says the theory of rising expectations, and that’s why good marriages are more likely to fail than bad ones, and second marriages are better than first marriages, but shorter!  

In communication, form is more important than content, praising people does not motivate them, and the more we communicate, the less we communicate.  

The ‘meat’ of the book is the chapter on – The “Technology” of Human Relations. Exploring the impact of technology on Human relations, the author discusses how technology invents us, develops a life of its own and with every application of technology a counterforce develops that is the exact opposite of what we intended. The danger is that we become so in love with technological applications that we forget its detrimental effects; he illustrates his point with examples of how computer technology increases design capability but stifles creativity. We must focus on Relationship Enrichment rather than acquisition of techniques of management skills, he suggests, since the more important a relationship, the less skill matters.  

The book is replete with startling insights. The author states his message in his introduction: “I believe many programs in management training today are moving us in the wrong direction because they fail to appreciate the complexity and paradoxical nature of human organizations. Thinking loses out to how-to-do-it formulas and techniques, if not to slogans and homilies, as the principle management guides.”  

This is a refreshing, original and thought provoking book, something different from the run of the mill stuff. It’s a management classic, a rare gem in the plethora of management literature. Do read it. You’ll be glad you did.   

  

  

VIKRAM KARVE 

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve 

 

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

 

  

My Favourite Military Autobiography – A Soldier’s Story by Omar N Bradley

May 10, 2007

MY FAVORITE MILITARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY  

A SOLDIER’S STORY BY OMAR N. BRADLEY 

 

[Book Review by Vikram Karve] 

 

 

 

I love reading autobiographies, as there is nothing more inspiring and authentic than learning about the life, times, thoughts and views of a great person in his own words.  

It’s a lazy hot Sunday afternoon. I browse through my bookshelves and pick out A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Nelson Bradley, one of my favorite autobiographies, and certainly my all time favorite military autobiography. Come Dear Reader, sit with me for a while, and let’s leaf through and peruse this fascinating book. 

General Bradley (1893-1981) known for his calm and resolute leadership and affectionately called the “Soldier’s General” commanded the largest American combat force in history and rose to be the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

This is a story, not of my life, but of a campaign…I have sought… to tell a story of how generals live and work at their chosen profession the author says at the beginning of his memoirs which focus on his participation in World War II. 

Candidly written with remarkable humility in beautiful expressive language it is a wonderful memoir embellished with interesting episodes and lucid characterizations of many renowned military personalities. 

 In this book I have tried to achieve one purpose: To explain how war is waged on the field from the field command postTo tell a story of how and why we chose to do what we did, no one can ignore the personalities and characteristics of those individuals engaged in making decisions…..Where there are people, there is pride and ambition, prejudice and conflict. In generals, as in all other men, capabilities cannot always obscure weaknesses, nor can talents hide faults…General Bradley writes in his preface which concludes…I could not conscientiously expurgate this book to make it more palatable…if this story is to be told, it must be told honestly and candidly… 

The author writes in a wonderfully readable storytelling style and starts his riveting narrative on September 2, 1943, driving to Messina along the north coast of Sicily when, suddenly, General Eisenhower summoned him to tell him that he had been selected to command the American Army in the biggest invasion of the war – the liberation of Europe from the Germans. He then goes back in time and starts his story with vignettes from his early formative days of soldiering. He describes how, from General Marshall, he learnt the rudiments of effective command which he himself applied throughout the war: “When an officer performed as I expected him to, I gave him a free hand. When he hesitated, I tried to help him. And when he failed, I relieved him”  – isn’t this leadership lesson valid even on today’s IT driven world where delegation seems to be taking a back- seat and excessive monitoring, interference and intervention seem to be on the rise. 

Rather than encourage yes-men, ego-massage, sycophancy and groupthink, General Marshal sought contrary opinions: “When you carry a paper in here, I want you to give me every reason you can think of why I should not approve it. If, in spite of your objections, my decision is to still go ahead, then I’ll know I’m right”. 

When it was suggested to General Marshall that a corps commander who had an arthritic disability in the knee be sent home rather than be given command of a corps in the field in war, he opined: “I would rather have a man with arthritis in the knee than one with arthritis in the head. Keep him there”. 

“For the first time in 32 years as a soldier, I was off to a war” he writes on his assignment overseas in February 1943 to act as Eisenhower’s “eyes and ears” among American troops on the Tunisian front in
North Africa.
 

He vividly describes the chaos after the American defeat at Kasserine, the arrival of Patton on the scene who growled “I’m not going to have any goddam spies running around in my headquarters” and appointed Bradley as his deputy, a defining moment which was the first step of Bradley’s illustrious combat career. 

This is easily the best book on Patton’s stellar role in World War II, complementing General Patton’s Memoirs War As I Knew It and Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago. Though his admiration for Patton is evident, General Bradley writes about his long association with Patton with fairness and honesty and reveals unique and remarkable facets of Patton’s leadership style and character. 

Sample this – Precisely at 7 Patton boomed in to breakfast. His vigor was always infectious, his wit barbed, his conversation a mixture of obscenity and good humor. He was at once stimulating and overbearing. George was a magnificent soldier. (Can there be a better description?) 

Bradley vividly describes how Patton transformed the slovenly and demoralized II Corps into a fighting fit formation. “The news of Patton’s coming fell like a bombshell on Djebel Kouif. With sirens shrieking Patton’s arrival, a procession of armored scout cars and half-tracks wheeled into the dingy square opposite the schoolhouse headquarters of II Corps…In the lead car Patton stood like a charioteer…scowling into the wind and his jaw strained against the web strap of a two-starred steel helmet.” 

General Bradley writes superbly, as he describes how Patton stamped his personality upon his men and by his outstanding charismatic leadership rejuvenated the jaded, slovenly, worn-out, defeated and demoralized II Corps and transformed it into a vibrant, disciplined, fighting fit organization that never looked back and went on winning victory after victory in most difficult circumstances and against all odds. 

There are bits of delightful humor in this book. Commenting on the ingenuity and improvisation abilities of Patton’s staff, the author writes: “…Indeed had Patton been named an Admiral in the Turkish Navy, his aides could probably dipped into their haversacks and come up with the appropriate badges of rank…” Though, at times, the author appears to be in awe of and enamored by Patton’s larger than life charisma, he is candid, dispassionate and, at times, critical when he describes how he was bewildered by the contradictions in Patton’s character and concludes: “At times I felt that Patton, however successful he was as a corps commander, had not yet learned how to command himself.” 

Their techniques of command varied with their contrasting personalities. While the soft-spoken unassuming Bradley preferred to lead by suggestion and example, the flamboyant Patton chose to drive his subordinates by bombast and threats, employing imperious mannerisms and profane expletives with startling originality; and both achieved spectacular results.   

Many of us are at a loss for words when asked to qualitatively appraise our subordinates. See how easily General Bradley lucidly evaluates his division commanders, bringing out their salient qualities, in so few words with elegant simplicity and succinctness: “…To command a corps of four divisions, toughness alone is not enough. The corps commander must know his division commanders, he must thoroughly understand their problems, respect their judgment, and be tolerant of their limitations…among the division commanders in
Tunisia, none excelled the unpredictable Terry Allen in the leadership of troops…but in looking out for his own division, Allen tended to belittle the role of others… Ryder had confirmed his reputation as that of a skilled tactician…his weakness, however, lay in the contentment with which he tolerated mediocrity…the profane and hot-tempered Harmon brought to the corps the rare combination of sound tactical judgment and boldness… none was better balanced nor more cooperative than Manton Eddy…though not timid, neither was he bold; Manton liked to count his steps carefully before he took them.”
 Aren’t the author’s understanding, observation and articulation remarkable?
 

 

Throughout the book, we find honest, frank and incisive appraisals of characters in this story – superiors, peers and subordinates – most of them renowned and famous personalities. He writes with candor about the problems of command during the planning of the invasion of
Europe.
 From then on the story gathers speed and moves so captivatingly that one is spellbound as one reads the author fluently narrate the events of the campaign with remarkable preciseness and detail, one realizes what an engaging and compelling book this is – it’s simply unputdownable! 

All important events, turning points, and personalities are vividly described with the aid of maps, charts, pictures and appendices; from D Day (the Normandy Invasion) to the surrender of the German forces. Towards the end of his memoirs General Bradley reflects “Only five years before…as a lieutenant colonel in civilian clothes, I had ridden a bus down Connecticut Avenue to my desk in old Munitions Building… I opened the mapboard and smoothed out the tabs of the 43 US divisions now under my command…stretched across a 640-mile front of the 12th Army Group…I wrote in the new date: D plus 335…outside the sun was climbing in the sky. The war in
Europe had ended.”
 

While this autobiography is a “must read” for military men and students of military history, I am sure it will benefit management students and professionals for it is an incisive treatise on Soft Skills encompassing aspects of Leadership, Communications, and most importantly, the Art of Human Relations Management in the extremely complex and highly stressful scenario of War where achievement of success (victory) is inescapably paramount. It is a primer, a treasury of distilled wisdom, on all aspects of management, especially human resource management.  One can learn many motivational and management lessons from this book. 

There is nothing to surpass the experience of learning history first hand from a man who lived and created it rather than a historian who merely records it. The Art of Leadership is better learnt from studying Leaders, their lives, their writings, rather than reading management textbooks pontificating on the subject and giving how-to-do laundry lists.   

The Art and Science of Management owe its genesis and evolution to the military. Modern Management theories, concepts, techniques and practices emerged from the experiences and lessons learnt during World War II [particularly in The United States of America].  

It’s ironic isn’t it? It was the military that gave modern management principles to the civilian corporate world, and today we see military men running to civilian management institutes to “learn’ management and get the coveted MBA which the sine qua non and all important passport for entry into the corporate world. 

I love reading stories, all kinds of stories, fiction, fantasy, parables, fables, slice of life. I like Life Stories, biographies, particularly autobiographies, as there is nothing more credible, convincing and stimulating than learning about the life, times and thoughts of a great person from his own writings. It’s called verisimilitude, I think. 

‘A Soldier’s Story’ is a magnificent book. A masterpiece, a classic! It’s enjoyable, engrossing and illuminating. Read it. 

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve 

 

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

19 Stars – A Study in Military Leadership – Book Review

March 15, 2007

AN INSPIRING BOOK ON LEADERSHIP 19 STARS: A STUDY IN MILITARY LEADERSHIP 

By EDGAR F. PURYEAR Jr. 

  (Book Review by Vikram Karve) 

    

         It was indeed a pleasant surprise to chance upon this engrossing treatise buried in the books that adorn the shelves of my bookcase, last Sunday evening.  I had read this book long back, maybe fifteen years ago. I read it again. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and found it inspiring, educative, enjoyable and stimulating.                                                               

        “19 Stars” is a comparative study of the contrasting styles of leadership by four of the most outstanding American generals of World War II. The book attempts to capture those elusive qualities that have made great leaders of Generals Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton. The title of the book symbolizes the total number of ‘stars’ these four Generals wore on their collars.           The book starts with a lucid description of their early years as Cadets and traces their diverse backgrounds. It is revealed that whereas MacArthur and Patton, belonged to families with rich military heritage, Eisenhower grew up with no knowledge of, or any inclination towards, a military career. He could not afford to go to college, qualified for entrance to Naval Academy, Annapolis, but was overage, so opted for West Point, which had a higher entering age.


Marshall just decided to follow his elder brother into the Army. MacArthur’s career as a cadet was brilliant. Patton distinguished himself in the qualities of a soldier and athletic skills but faced difficulty in academics. Eisenhower has been depicted as indifferent, carefree and careless.
    

         An absorbing narrative encompassing World Wars I and II and the interregnum is the highlight of the book. It is a thoroughly researched analysis interspersed with a large number of anecdotes and reminiscences. The author avoids platitudes and presents his analysis with remarkable candor. Whether it be the ‘flamboyant’ Patton, ‘imperious’ MacArthur, ‘genial’ Eisenhower or ‘austere’ Marshall, a pattern of common leadership qualities emerges despite their contrasting temperaments It is revealing that these intrepid men were groomed under the tutelage of various patrons who not only furthered their careers but also bailed them out of professional crises on a number of occasions. The numerous first person reminiscences of eminent personalities, lucidly illustrate the universal respect and honest relationships, totally devoid of sycophancy that they developed and loyally sustained. Decisiveness, sometimes based on a “Sixth Sense”, Outspokenness, and an uncanny knack of spotting the right man for the right job are highlighted in various episodes, as also their inner strength and courageous attitude towards reversals and adversities, over which they invariably triumphed.   

        The author has succeeded in organizing and presenting his analysis in an extremely streamlined and readable manner. This is an enjoyable book which inspires; once you start reading it, it’s unputdownable.   

    

Reviewed by VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com  

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

  

                 

Musings on The Art of Living

March 1, 2007

MUSINGS BY VIKRAM KARVE ON THE ART OF LIVING

 

My name is Vikram Karve. I’m 50 and live in
Pune, India. I love reading, writing and blogging and have a philosophical attitude towards life. Here are a few links to my musings on various aspects of the art of living. I trust you will enjoy and derive benefit by reading them. Do send me your comments and feedback to:

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

TEACHING STORIES

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/two-teaching-stories.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-4-by-vikram-karve-on-teachers.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-3-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories-part-2-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/10/a-teaching-story-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

 

 

Book Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING by LIN YUTANG

[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/01/the-art-of-living.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-art-of-living/

 

 

THE ART OF HAPPINESS

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/01/happiness.htm

 

 

THE ART OF EATING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-eating.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/the-art-of-eating-by-vikram-karve/

 

 

HOW I QUIT SMOKING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/how-i-quit-smoking.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/how-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

 

THE DAY AFTER I QUIT SMOKING

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/29/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking.htm

 

DO YOU WANT TO QUIT DRINKING?

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/force-field-analysis-helps-you-quit-drinking/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/want-to-quit-drinking-.htm

 

 

TIME MANAGEMENT – SPEND TIME ADD VALUE

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/time-management.htm

 

 

A SENSE OF VALUES

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/a-sense-of-values-by-vikram-karve/

 

 

THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-map-is-not-the-territory-by-vikram-karve/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-map-is-not-the-territory.htm

 

THE SWEET CHILLIES

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

 

 

COOSING THE RIGHT CAREER

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/choosing-the-right-career.htm

 

EPICTETUS – THE ART OF LIVING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/the-art-of-living-a-book-review–2.htm

 

80/20 LIVING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-book-review-80-20-principle.htm

 

A TEACHING STORY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

 

BOOK REVIEW – A SOLDIER’S STORY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/book-review-a-soldier-s-story.htm

 

ORIENTAL STORIES – A FASCINATING BOOK

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/a-fascinating-book.htm

 

KNOW YOUR VALUES FOR HAPPINESS AND HARMONY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/know-your-values-for-harmony-and-happiness.htm

 

HURRY SICKNESS

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/hurry-sickness.htm

 

BIBLIOTHERAPY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/bibliotherapy.htm

 

LIFE PROCESS OUTSOURCING (LPO)

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/life-process-outsourcing-lpo.htm

 

BOOK REVIEW – THE PETER PRINCIPLE AND PETER PRESCRIPTION

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/book-review-the-peter-prescription-the-peter-principle.htm

 

 

ETHICAL FITNESS

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/07/ethical-fitness-2.htm

 

THOUGHT CONTROL

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/be-happy-and-healthy/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/monday-morning-rumination.htm

 

HAIKU

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/haiku-minerva-moment-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/12/the-art-of-eating-an-affair-to-remember-by-vikram.htm

 

MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD – A book review

 

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/management-of-the-absurd.htm

 

MAHARSHI KARVE – BOOKS ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES

 

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/maharshi-karve-books-on-his-life-and-times.htm

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these articles and look forward to your feedback. I’ll keep on posting.

 

VIKRAM KARVE

Pune
India

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

http://karve.wordpress.com

http://vikramkarve.blog.co.uk

http://vikramwamankarve.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review : My Favourite Autobiography – A Soldier’s Story by Omar N Bradley

February 15, 2007

Book review by Vikram Karve

 

MY FAVORITE MILITARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

 

A Soldier’s Story by Omar N. Bradley

 

 

 

 

I love reading autobiographies, as there is nothing more inspiring and authentic than learning about the life, times, thoughts and views of a great person in his own words.

 

It’s a lazy hot Sunday afternoon. I browse through my bookshelves and pick out A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Nelson Bradley, one of my favorite autobiographies, and certainly my all time favorite military autobiography. Come Dear Reader, sit with me for a while, and let’s leaf through and peruse this fascinating book.

 

General Bradley (1893-1981) known for his calm and resolute leadership and affectionately called the “Soldier’s General” commanded the largest American combat force in history and rose to be the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

This is a story, not of my life, but of a campaign…I have sought… to tell a story of how generals live and work at their chosen profession the author says at the beginning of his memoirs which focus on his participation in World War II.

 

Candidly written with remarkable humility in beautiful expressive language it is a wonderful memoir embellished with interesting episodes and lucid characterizations of many renowned military personalities.

 

 In this book I have tried to achieve one purpose: To explain how war is waged on the field from the field command postTo tell a story of how and why we chose to do what we did, no one can ignore the personalities and characteristics of those individuals engaged in making decisions…..Where there are people, there is pride and ambition, prejudice and conflict. In generals, as in all other men, capabilities cannot always obscure weaknesses, nor can talents hide faults…General Bradley writes in his preface which concludes…I could not conscientiously expurgate this book to make it more palatable…if this story is to be told, it must be told honestly and candidly… 

The author writes in a wonderfully readable storytelling style and starts his riveting narrative on September 2, 1943, driving to Messina along the north coast of Sicily when, suddenly, General Eisenhower summoned him to tell him that he had been selected to command the American Army in the biggest invasion of the war – the liberation of Europe from the Germans. He then goes back in time and starts his story with vignettes from his early formative days of soldiering. He describes how, from General Marshall, he learnt the rudiments of effective command which he himself applied throughout the war: “When an officer performed as I expected him to, I gave him a free hand. When he hesitated, I tried to help him. And when he failed, I relieved him”  – isn’t this leadership lesson valid even on today’s IT driven world where delegation seems to be taking a back- seat and excessive monitoring, interference and intervention seem to be on the rise.

 

Rather than encourage yes-men, ego-massage, sycophancy and groupthink, General Marshal sought contrary opinions: “When you carry a paper in here, I want you to give me every reason you can think of why I should not approve it. If, in spite of your objections, my decision is to still go ahead, then I’ll know I’m right”. 

When it was suggested to General Marshall that a corps commander who had an arthritic disability in the knee be sent home rather than be given command of a corps in the field in war, he opined: “I would rather have a man with arthritis in the knee than one with arthritis in the head. Keep him there”.

 

“For the first time in 32 years as a soldier, I was off to a war” he writes on his assignment overseas in February 1943 to act as Eisenhower’s “eyes and ears” among American troops on the Tunisian front in
North Africa.

 

He vividly describes the chaos after the American defeat at Kasserine, the arrival of Patton on the scene who growled “I’m not going to have any goddam spies running around in my headquarters” and appointed Bradley as his deputy, a defining moment which was the first step of Bradley’s illustrious combat career.

 

This is easily the best book on Patton’s stellar role in World War II, complementing General Patton’s Memoirs War As I Knew It and Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago. Though his admiration for Patton is evident, General Bradley writes about his long association with Patton with fairness and honesty and reveals unique and remarkable facets of Patton’s leadership style and character.

 

Sample this – Precisely at 7 Patton boomed in to breakfast. His vigor was always infectious, his wit barbed, his conversation a mixture of obscenity and good humor. He was at once stimulating and overbearing. George was a magnificent soldier. (Can there be a better description?)

 

Bradley vividly describes how Patton transformed the slovenly and demoralized II Corps into a fighting fit formation. “The news of Patton’s coming fell like a bombshell on Djebel Kouif. With sirens shrieking Patton’s arrival, a procession of armored scout cars and half-tracks wheeled into the dingy square opposite the schoolhouse headquarters of II Corps…In the lead car Patton stood like a charioteer…scowling into the wind and his jaw strained against the web strap of a two-starred steel helmet.”

 

General Bradley writes superbly, as he describes how Patton stamped his personality upon his men and by his outstanding charismatic leadership rejuvenated the jaded, slovenly, worn-out, defeated and demoralized II Corps and transformed it into a vibrant, disciplined, fighting fit organization that never looked back and went on winning victory after victory in most difficult circumstances and against all odds.

 

There are bits of delightful humor in this book. Commenting on the ingenuity and improvisation abilities of Patton’s staff, the author writes: “…Indeed had Patton been named an Admiral in the Turkish Navy, his aides could probably dipped into their haversacks and come up with the appropriate badges of rank…” Though, at times, the author appears to be in awe of and enamored by Patton’s larger than life charisma, he is candid, dispassionate and, at times, critical when he describes how he was bewildered by the contradictions in Patton’s character and concludes: “At times I felt that Patton, however successful he was as a corps commander, had not yet learned how to command himself.” 

Their techniques of command varied with their contrasting personalities. While the soft-spoken unassuming Bradley preferred to lead by suggestion and example, the flamboyant Patton chose to drive his subordinates by bombast and threats, employing imperious mannerisms and profane expletives with startling originality; and both achieved spectacular results. 

 

Many of us are at a loss for words when asked to qualitatively appraise our subordinates. See how easily General Bradley lucidly evaluates his division commanders, bringing out their salient qualities, in so few words with elegant simplicity and succinctness: “…To command a corps of four divisions, toughness alone is not enough. The corps commander must know his division commanders, he must thoroughly understand their problems, respect their judgment, and be tolerant of their limitations…among the division commanders in
Tunisia, none excelled the unpredictable Terry Allen in the leadership of troops…but in looking out for his own division, Allen tended to belittle the role of others… Ryder had confirmed his reputation as that of a skilled tactician…his weakness, however, lay in the contentment with which he tolerated mediocrity…the profane and hot-tempered Harmon brought to the corps the rare combination of sound tactical judgment and boldness… none was better balanced nor more cooperative than Manton Eddy…though not timid, neither was he bold; Manton liked to count his steps carefully before he took them.”
 Aren’t the author’s understanding, observation and articulation remarkable?

 

 

Throughout the book, we find honest, frank and incisive appraisals of characters in this story – superiors, peers and subordinates – most of them renowned and famous personalities. He writes with candor about the problems of command during the planning of the invasion of
Europe.

From then on the story gathers speed and moves so captivatingly that one is spellbound as one reads the author fluently narrate the events of the campaign with remarkable preciseness and detail, one realizes what an engaging and compelling book this is – it’s simply unputdownable!

 

All important events, turning points, and personalities are vividly described with the aid of maps, charts, pictures and appendices; from D Day (the Normandy Invasion) to the surrender of the German forces. Towards the end of his memoirs General Bradley reflects “Only five years before…as a lieutenant colonel in civilian clothes, I had ridden a bus down Connecticut Avenue to my desk in old Munitions Building… I opened the mapboard and smoothed out the tabs of the 43 US divisions now under my command…stretched across a 640-mile front of the 12th Army Group…I wrote in the new date: D plus 335…outside the sun was climbing in the sky. The war in
Europe had ended.”
 

While this autobiography is a “must read” for military men and students of military history, I am sure it will benefit management students and professionals for it is an incisive treatise on Soft Skills encompassing aspects of Leadership, Communications, and most importantly, the Art of Human Relations Management in the extremely complex and highly stressful scenario of War where achievement of success (victory) is inescapably paramount. It is a primer, a treasury of distilled wisdom, on all aspects of management, especially human resource management.  One can learn many motivational and management lessons from this book.

 

There is nothing to surpass the experience of learning history first hand from a man who lived and created it rather than a historian who merely records it. The Art of Leadership is better learnt from studying Leaders, their lives, their writings, rather than reading management textbooks pontificating on the subject and giving how-to-do laundry lists. 

 

The Art and Science of Management owe its genesis and evolution to the military. Modern Management theories, concepts, techniques and practices emerged from the experiences and lessons learnt during World War II [particularly in The United States of America].  

It’s ironic isn’t it? It was the military that gave modern management principles to the civilian corporate world, and today we see military men running to civilian management institutes to “learn’ management and get the coveted MBA which the sine qua non and all important passport for entry into the corporate world.

 

I love reading stories, all kinds of stories, fiction, fantasy, parables, fables, slice of life. I like Life Stories, biographies, particularly autobiographies, as there is nothing more credible, convincing and stimulating than learning about the life, times and thoughts of a great person from his own writings. It’s called verisimilitude, I think.

 

A Soldier’s Story is a magnificent book. A masterpiece, a classic! It’s enjoyable, engrossing and illuminating. Read it.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://vikramkarve.blog.co.uk