When a seasoned politician writes his autobiography, it is like a treasure trove. If he is writing it well before assuming a highly significant office, then he does not have to worry about the fallouts of his writings. An example can be given of the Barak Obama's autobiography, which he wrote in the early 1990s. When a politician writes an autobiography before retirement or when he is still in a race for a high office, then most of the time he is trying to make a statement. His writings are more concerned with image creation and also rectifying or diluting the effects of the mistakes committed in past.
Advani's autobiography My Country My Life falls into the second category. He may choose to speak in detail on few topics and avoid others, still it gives an account of his close encounter with events which changed the course of Indian politics. Lal Krishna Advani was Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister during Vajpayee government. He was also the president of a national political party of India.
The book is divided into five parts. Advani was born in the city of Karachi in Sindh in undivided India. The pain of partition runs deep through the community which was rendered homeless and has to cross the border to make new homes, as evident from Advani's account of the prevailing conditions of partition period. He devotes the first phase of the book to his upbringing in Karachi and how his family migrated to Kutch district in Gujarat. In the second phase, he describes his stint as Pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Rajasthan state. He came closer to the politicians like Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and also Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Later on, he would become friends and colleague with Vajpayee, a relation which is alive even today surviving more than six decades.
In the third part, Advani describes the situation during Nehru's and Indira's India till emergency (1975-77) and his role in it. He migrated to Delhi and started working as a journalist for The Organiser. He was elected to Delhi Metropolitan Council and became the speaker of the house. Later on, he entered Rajya Sabha to began his long Parliamentary Career. He was chosen to lead Bharatiya Jana Sangh (the predecessor of Bharatiya Janta Party, BJP) which made him rise to prominence in national politics. The fourth part describes the years as the President of BJP when he spearheaded the Mandir Movement. These were the years which redefined the Indian politics. The strength of BJP increased manifold and it formed its own government at Centre and he became Home Minister, the stint which he describes in the fourth part.
His tenure as the Home Minister was a very happening one. He talks in detail about the Naxalite challenge, the separatist movement in North-East India, cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, the failure of Vajpayee-Musharraf Summit in Agra and the setting up of a committee to review the working of the Indian Constitution. He makes efforts to explain the events of Gujarat riots and gives incidents of his efforts as Home Minister. During a visit to Pakistan, he praised Jinnah which was not well received in India. He also explains his position regarding Jinnah giving historical instances.
Overall the book is easy to read. For those interested in political history, this will be interesting. But to read views of only one side is not recommended. One should read counter views too before forming an opinion on any issue, more so on political issues. Also, read this book for a life account of a refugee who left his home and then gradually rose through ranks to hold one of the highest offices in the Central Government.