Book review: A humane account of battlefields above 16,000 feet

The book provides an accurate and humane details of the activities of the officers and soldiers of Indian Army during Kargil war in 1999. The readers who are interested to know about the war, the book is a must. The author of the book has explained in details about various aspects of this war, The book has been written from first-hand experience during the author's nine-week stint in the battlefield during the war as defence correspondent. The present review has mentioned the salient features of the book.


Name of the Book: Dateline Kargil
Author: Gaurav C Sawant
Publisher: Macmillan India Ltd.
Year of publishing: 2000
Edition: First Edition
Price: Rs. 295

About the author

Gaurav Sawant is the son of Brigd. Chitranjan Sawant (Retd.), a well-known Army officer of Indian Army. Gaurav is an alumnus of Saint. Stephen's College, Delhi and at the time of writing this book, he was the Principle Correspondent (Defence) with the Indian Express. He did his masters in Medieval Indian History from the Delhi University and is a Guest Lecture at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. The present Book is an eye-witness account during his nine week assigned during Kargil War in 1999. Gaurav Sawant has been critically acclaimed because of the brilliant depiction of the war.


The book is divided into forty-six chapters. These are:Those Early Days, The Initial Setbacks, The Mass Exodus, The Induction of Artillery, The Tololing Assault, More Troops Move In, Ye Dil Mange More, Victory At A Price, The Air Operations, The Early Batalik Battles, Love's Labour Lost, The Spiritual Battle, Surinder Singh At Kaksar, The Picture Improves, The Para-Operations, The Artillery Battle, Life of A Jawan, Planning For Tiger Hill, The Artillery Attack, The Infantry Assault, The Counter-Attack, Back To Batalik, Batalik Battles, Pick Up, Soldiers Soldier On, Peak Khalubar Recaptured, Jubar Falls, India Celebrates, Operation Safed Sagar, Battle in Mushkoh Valley, Courage At Peak 4875, Bearding The Lion, The Safe Passage, The Reluctant Withdrawal, Jockeying For Heights, Pakistan's Unkept Promise, The Siege Within, The Turtuk Trouble, The Brave Among The Enemy, The Postmortem Begins, Hack Pack At War, Families Stand By, The Naval Operations, Crisis In Command?, Friends And Foes, The Aftermath, The Lessons Learnt, Proving A Point.


The book has been dedicated to the brave soldiers who fought and won the (Kargil) War and their families who stood by them. The author has pictorially detailed the initial surprise and unpreparedness of officers and soldiers of Indian Army. He mentioned the heart break of the army soldiers when they brought back the death bodies of their comrades. The initial casual attitude of the higher level officers has been brilliantly exposed. When the actual level of intrusion by the enemy troops came to light, how the Indian Army re-organized and prepared itself for the daunting task of re-capturing the peaks, has been elucidated in great details. The role of artillery in helping the infantry has been explained for general readers. The battle for every peak at Tololing, Kaksar, Khalubar, Jubar and Mushkow valley has been explained with great care and clarity. The bravery, courage, planning and fellow-feeling of the officers and soldiers have been described. The attitude of the officers towards journalists and other civilians at the initial stage is required to be noted. However, this attitude changed when the Army started gaining success. The author has also briefly mentioned the role of Air Force and Navy during the war.

However, to me. the most important chapter of the book is the 'The Lessons Learnt'. Here the author has brilliantly explained the errors of the Indian Army , how the enemy exploited the gaps between Indian defences and the recommendations of the Committee headed by Late K. Subramaniam in this regard.

Why to read this Book

The book has provided many details of the day-to-day activities during the battle. He has intimately mingled with the officers and soldiers during the war and explained their mind-set during the battle. We come to know the mind-set of the soldiers during the successes as well as during the failures. The photos of the book are added assets. If the readers are interested to know about the Kargil War in details, they must go through this book. Reading the book is no doubt a great experience.

Article by Partha K.
“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” - George Gordon Byron

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