By Minali De Silva
In this thought provoking book the author may push you to the edge of your comfort zone, and your natural reaction may be one of indignation. But the important point that one might miss in this emotional melee is that he is not telling you what to think, he is simply asking you to think.
Think beyond what you do today, make choices based on real information and make those choices for yourself. This is evident starting from the title of the book – History as I See It, not as ‘it is’ or as ‘it should be’, but simply as he sees it. When you understand this you are able to appreciate the value of the author’s message, seeing past his at times trenchant prose.
Throughout the book the Hafiz Sheriff confronts us with real historical facts, figures and information while also sharing his views and his learnings from personal experiences and what is clearly an extensive knowledge base developed by reading on a variety of subject matter.
A few themes emerge throughout this book.
The Arab – Israeli conflict, while the author’s views are clear, the more important aspect of this book, is not which side of the equation Sheriff falls on, it is the fact that someone is presenting the other side of the story. The simple reality is that global reporting on this particular issue has always in itself been polarized, and it is important for people to see both sides of this historically complex matter, in forming their own views.
Leadership, while Sheriff bluntly calls out political leaders for their short-sighted and rapacious politics, he at the same time celebrates leadership that was people focused and created positive impacts on the world, digging a little deeper past campaign taglines and media buzz, to the heart of what makes a difference, and highlighting indirectly the need for each of us to do this for ourselves.
Reading, the importance of reading, of taking it upon yourself to have a better understanding of life, history, politics, the environment or any other subject, is a recurring theme within this book. The author celebrates the work of others that have helped him learn more, know more, develop better perspectives on issues and become a more aware and rounded individual. The simple elegance of this theme is the fact that the author comes full circle and is now amongst the ranks of those writing to share knowledge, create awareness and help people to grow.
You will either love this book or struggle with the author’s honest and unvarnished views, but either way you will walk away from it with knowledge and possibly a drive to question and know more.
History as I See It and Others is available in paperback form for Rs.700/- at Jam Fruit Tree Publications on 366/1, Galle Road, Colombo 03. Contact 072-7268078 to reserve a copy or arrange delivery.