The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel

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In the page-turning tradition of Black Hawk Down, the definitive account of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai

Mumbai, 2008. On the night of November 26, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists attacked targets throughout the city, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels. For sixty-eight hours, hundreds were held hostage as shots rang out and an enormous fire raged. When the smoke cleared, thirty-one people were dead and many more had been ...

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The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel

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In the page-turning tradition of Black Hawk Down, the definitive account of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai

Mumbai, 2008. On the night of November 26, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists attacked targets throughout the city, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels. For sixty-eight hours, hundreds were held hostage as shots rang out and an enormous fire raged. When the smoke cleared, thirty-one people were dead and many more had been injured. Only the courageous actions of staff and guests—including Mallika Jagad, Bob Nichols, and Taj general manager Binny Kang—prevented a much higher death toll.

With a deep understanding of the region and its politics and a narrative flair reminiscent of Midnight in Peking, journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy vividly unfold the tragic events in a real-life thriller filled with suspense, tragedy, history, and heroism.

Winner of the 2014 CWA Non-Fiction Dagger

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Dwight Garner
…a propulsive and exceedingly well-reported book that offers an intense ticktock account, the fullest we have had, of the attack on the Taj…The story [Ms. Scott-Clark and Mr. Levy] present steamrolls finicky objections. It's a tragedy and a thriller with concussive human and political resonance. I read it in what felt like three blinks.
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/23/2013
This impressive work of journalistic research and reconstruction offers a revelatory look inside the November 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, during which 10 highly trained gunmen deployed by the organization Lashkar-e-Toiba brought the world’s fourth-largest city to its knees, with four of the terrorists taking over the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The landmark’s physical size and symbolic stature account for the efforts by Lashkar, and it is likewise where Scott-Clark and Levy concentrate their narrative, contextualizing and recreating the events of three harrowing days in and around the damaged, fire-engulfed hotel. The authors offer multiple perspectives, including those of staff, guests, hostages, police, security, and political officials, as well as the gunmen’s Karachi-based handlers (who used online telephones and Google Earth to assist the killers). In addition to providing a riveting human drama, the book highlights the woeful lack of state security. The authors, meanwhile, explain the factional pressures and international political context driving Lashkar to expand its mission beyond Kashmir. As in their last book, The Meadow, longtime South Asia correspondents Scott-Clark and Levy deliver a meticulous, insightful, and dramatic account of an extraordinary episode in modern warfare, again emanating from the longstanding India-Pakistan contest over Kashmir. In so doing, they also persuasively illustrate the entangled personnel and politics characterizing the larger playing field of state and nonstate terrorism. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates (U.K.). (Nov.)
Library Journal
★ 10/15/2013
On November 26, 2008, the city of Mumbai was upended by a series of terrorist attacks that damaged and destroyed multiple targets, killing 166 people and injuring 293. Journalists Scott-Clark and Levy tell the story of the next three days, focusing on the Taj Hotel, a towering landmark and symbol of wealth and luxury in the city, which was the locus of the siege. Using recollections of the survivors along with official reports and other sources, they begin with the terrorists' water landing, then backtrack to cover the backstories of the hotel staff and guests, as well as the terrorists themselves and the American double agent who was intimately involved in the planning of the attack. The authors walk the reader through the first hideous 24 hours and the grim mop-up that revealed the true scope of the devastation. Cut off from official help, the hotel employees and guests worked bravely to escape the bullets and flames that surrounded them. Scott-Clark and Levy show how unheeded warnings and lax security enabled a preventable tragedy. VERDICT This thorough and compulsively readable account of the Mumbai attacks will be appreciated by readers of current events and the war on terror.—Deirdre Bray, Middletown P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
Well-researched account of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, with plenty of firsthand detail. Starting with a group of 10 young fidayeen fighters approaching Mumbai by water on the night of the attacks, journalists and documentarians Scott-Clark and Levy (The Meadow, 2012, etc.) document everything possible, from the blow-by-blow account of the many hours the hotel was under siege to the recruitment and rigorous training of the Pakistani men who volunteered for jihad, however doubtfully. They even recount the story of the man who scouted targets for Lashkar-e-Toiba and, they believe, was acting as a double agent for the United States at the time. This has the benefit of providing a full, rounded picture and gives helpful background and context, most of which pulls readers deeper into the intrigue. Still, the sheer amount of detail can be overwhelming. Though the main focus is what happened at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, nothing is left out. The authors also recount events at a nearby cafe, a Jewish center, a smaller hotel and elsewhere around town. All the information from those who survived the attacks is compelling and well-written. With more guests present than the other targets, there were many stories to tell, and the authors make palpable the fear and despair of the guests and employees. They also bring attention to the many mistakes made by police and hotel security in the months leading up to the offensive--there were many warnings that such an attack might be coming--and on the ground while it was happening. Important and enlightening, these parts of the book are perhaps more terrifying than the rest. Through it all, though, there are just enough moments to applaud. A great read that gives readers a better understanding of a terrorist attack from many points of view.
From the Publisher
"Narrator James Langton is clear and measured in chronicling the coordinated attack on the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi Trident, Leopold Cafe, and other locations of significance in Mumbai by members of a Pakistani terrorist organization." —-AudioFile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123750
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 981,451
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy are the authors of four nonfiction books. They live in France.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Hard to put down, a great read.

    Hard to put down, a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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