This coffee table book entitled “Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw – The Man and His Times” is a collector’s item. Through the life and times of Sam Maneckshaw, the book covers the history of the Indian sub-continent from the turmoil of the 1940’s through independence, the genesis of the Kashmir issue, the Chinese aggression of 1962 and the 1971 War that saw the creation of Bangladesh. It is anecdotal and an easy read and sheds light on the Field Marshal’s military acumen, his values, forthrightness, high standard of discipline and honesty but also his humanity and unique sense of humour. With 200 plus letters and photographs, his personal correspondence with heads of state and eminent personalities like Lord Mountbatten, Field Marshal Auchinleck and Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and with notes and doodles in his own handwriting, the book is ‘simply un-put-down-able’ in the words of Fali Nariman, the eminent Indian jurist.
Because of its historical value, the book has found its place in the Library of Congress and in libraries of Ivy League institutions and the War College in the US. In the UK, the book can be found at Sandhurst and with the British Gurkha Brigade Museum at Winchester.
The book is dedicated to “Men in Uniform who laid down their lives defending our country and to their widows whose sacrifices are in equal measure”. Since its publication in 2014, to mark Sam’s birth centenary, the authors have donated all the royalty they earn to two noteworthy causes: the War Wounded Association and the War Widows’ Associations of India. It can be purchased on Amazon and Flipkart (in India).
The authors are Brigadier Behram M. Panthaki (Retd.) and his wife, Zenobia. Brigadier Panthaki was commissioned in 1964 in the Indian Army. From 1981-83 he commanded his battalion, 2/8 Gorkha Rifles, and 1990-1992 he commanded 35 Infantry Brigade in Delhi which is responsible for security of the Capital Region. Apart from that he held several strategic appointments in Jammu & Kashmir. He was an instructor at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington and at the War College in Mhow. But the appointment he cherishes most is his six-year tenure as Aide de Camp (ADC) to General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw. The Panthakis had a very close relationship with Sam and the Manekshaw family, and the book is an insider’s view of those turbulent and exciting years. In 1994 Brigadier Panthaki took premature retirement to settle in Washington DC, USA, with his wife. Zenobia worked for the World Bank from 1984 until her retirement in 2012 and continues to consult for the Bank.