The Hindu

The Indian Spy: The True Story of the Most Remarkable Secret Agent of World War II Mihir Bose Aleph Book Company ₹599  

Who was Bhagat Ram Talwar? A journalist-writer tells us another fascinating chapter of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s life

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is a fascinating, and an unusual, historical figure who combines charisma and mystery, a deadly cocktail that has spurred a flourishing industry of books, essays, documentaries, films and endless discussions. Even seven decades after he disappeared, Bose continues his unusual exuberant journey stoking Indian pride and imagination.

London-based journalist-writer Mihir Bose has played a crucial role in filling the many mysterious gaps and critical information about Netaji ever since his first biography of the freedom fighter came out in the 1980s. His latest book The Indian Spy: The True Story of the Most Remarkable Secret Agent of World War II was originally published in 2016 in the U.K. as Silver: The Spy Who Fooled the Nazis.

The book adds yet another fascinating chapter to the Bose mystery, and how World War II played out in the lives of Netaji, many of his supporters and among the global powers. All that is narrated through the life of Bhagat Ram Talwar, known to Indians as the man who accompanied Bose when the former Congress party president escaped to Kabul in 1941. Most of what ordinary readers know about Talwar, who was nicknamed Silver by the British intelligence, is from a book that he published via the publication division of the Communist Party of India, of which he was a member. The Hindu Pathan, born in Ghalla Dher village not far from Nowshera, at the age of 68 wrote The Talwars of Pathan Land eulogising his role in Netaji’s escape.

Mihir Bose’s new book meticulously reconstructs Talwar’s real character, relaying on original documents from several archives to establish that Silver was actually the only quintuple spy of WW II. He spied for the Italians, Germans, Japanese, Soviets and the British, and deceived Netaji, made a fortune and played a crucial role in the global war.

He was awarded one of the highest military decorations by Nazi Germany, and was handsomely paid by all the powers that benefited from his information and treachery. According to Bose, Silver actually deceived the Nazis on behalf of the British and Soviet Union.

Peter Fleming—his brother Ian Fleming created James Bond—handled Silver on behalf of British intelligence. Silver in turn fed misleading information directly to Berlin, where Netaji was among those who consumed his fake news during the period. He made a dozen trips during the war period between Peshawar and Kabul via foot always feeding the Germans wrong information, every time pretending to be a Muslim.

Compassionately read, Silver’s life story is itself a chilling narrative of what happens to young idealism as it matures, especially in strife-torn regions. Once a member of Naujawan Bharat Sabha (Young Indian Association) founded by Bhagat Singh, and a former associate of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Silver was once a young man bitter about the Congress party’s soft politics.

April 22, 2017


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