At a time when Pakistan is again snarling at India, Lt Gen. (rtd) J F R Jacob’s autobiography, An Odyssey in War and Peace has revived fading memories of the 1971 war—the only one in which India emerged as an undisputable winner.
Unfortunately, it hogged the headlines for the wrong reasons. Jacob had aired his differences with the late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in his earlier book Surrender at Dacca. This time he has accused him of promoting sycophancy and angling for post-retirement prospects. He also has some unflattering things to say about Lt Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, who led the Army in the eastern sector.
Manekshaw and Aurora are no more to defend themselves, but the accusations have evoked sharp reactions from their fans.
“Jacob has a tremendous ego and believes he won the war,” says Lt Gen (Retd) Depinder Singh, who was Manekshaw’s military assistant from 1969-73.
Jacob refuses to flinch. “If Montgomery and McCarthy can be criticised, why not Manekshaw?” he asks.
Controversies apart, Jacob’s is a good yarn, told with a candour characteristic of men in arms. He seems to have taken a leaf out of Field Marshal William Slim’s Defeat into Victory, a war book he considers among the best.