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September 21, 2013

Notes on APJ Abdul Kalam's 'My Journey'

[This book review is done on the request of Rupa Publications]

Author : APJ Abdul Kalam
Publisher : Rupa Publications

Rating : 3 / 5

My Journey - Transforming Dreams into Actions by APJ Abdul Kalam portrays a life of extraordinary determination, courage, perseverance and the desire to excel. From a small boygrowing up in Rameswaram, to becoming the country’s eleventh President, it traverses through a series of anecdotes and profiles. Dr Kalam looks back on key moments in his past—some small and some momentous—and tells the reader how each of them inspired him profoundly. With warmth and affection, he talks about the people who left a deep impression on him as he was growing up and as an adult, and the lessons he drew from his interactions with them.

He describes those who have been the closest to him—his father with his deep love of God, his mother and her great kindness, his mentors who helped shape his thoughts and outlook. There are heart-warming accounts here of his childhood years spent in a small town by the Bay of Bengal and the many struggles and sacrifices made on the path to becoming a scientist and then the President of India. Multiple incidents stood out - like the one where he found his mother to be starved when he himself ate a little too much or how he managed to  help his uncle in the newspaper business. All these small incidents portrays a slice of life and ultimately, contributed in his personality.

Dr Kalam also writes about the times when failure and dejection nearly overtook him and how he prevailed over those obstacles by drawing strength from books and spirituality. My most favourite moment is when his professor told him to rework on a project over the weekend and he pushed himself to get the work done. It shows the man's determination to his craft. Also, he was desperate to pursue a career in flying but could not because of various constraints. He still rose above these failures to be what he ultimately become and even at the age of 80+ he is still a role model to savour and respect.

What is more impressive is that he doesn't inundated his readers with complicated jargon or language, rather he keeps things simple and maintains a humble approach. Not too long at around 150 pages, it can be easily read within couple of hours and will leave you with a motivated feeling. Go for it!

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