The Bay of Pigs by Howard Jones
This describes the ill-fated 1961 invasion of Cuba by a CIA sponsored group of Cuban exiles. I’d know about this obviously, but not really thought about it in detail. I also had not really thought about it’s importance in the progress of the Cold War.
The book describes how the invasion fell right at the junction of Eisenhower and Kennedy presidency. It was inherited by Kennedy and actioned very early on in his administration. It was a complicated plan that would have been difficult to WW2 military planners but was organized by the CIA, who probably did not have a large enough military experience. In the end the big winner was Castro.
The Buddha And The Sahibs: The Men Who Discovered India’s Lost Religion by Charles Allen
This is an account of the process by which the origins and practice of Buddhism became known in the west. It starts with studies of Hinduism and the learning of Sanskrit, but it quickly moves to describe Buddhism. It covers the increasing awareness of Buddhist ideas in the west, but very much the search by which the holy Buddhist places became known and how they fit into the overall historical context of India.
I found it useful and well organized. If/when I go back to India I might spend some time in the areas around Patna/Varanasi visiting many of the places mentioned. I have been to Sarnath on a previous visit to Varanasi and was impressed.
I read Plain Tales of the Raj (also by Charles Allen) many years ago and enjoyed it.
I was given this for Christmas. I finished it waiting at O’Hare while the 2013 Super Bowl was being played.