This 168 page book stands out from other publications in many ways. It is written in English, indicating that it basically targets a foreign readership that is not familiar with the life and works of Bangladesh's Father of the Nation. This coffee-table styled book is a tribute of the author to Bangabandhu, but not in words alone. Rather than a long-winded discourse of Bangabandhu's life and struggle, Enayetullah Khan has recorded history in this book through the narratives of various incidents and events, and enriched with a large collection of carefully selected photographs. The publication, its printing, binding, selection of pictures and concise use of narrative is so carefully crafted that the book will attract even the most disinterested reader.
The 27 chapters of the book contain significant chapters of Bangabandhu's life in words and in pictures. The book includes a life sketch of the Father of the Nation, descriptions of his varied characteristics, the events of March, his experience in the Pakistan prison and the dark night of 15 August. The book contains an interview of Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina and the memoirs of his close and long-standing associate Dr Kamal Hossain. Valiant Col. Jamil Uddin Ahmed, trying to save Bangabandhu from the killers' bullets, himself was shot in the chest and died. The chapter on the man who took a bullet from Bangabandhu is an evocative and emotional description that will move the reader.
Rather than arranging the chapters in a conventional chronological manner or on the basis of historical significance, the writer has followed his heart and given priority to personal feelings and perceptions. Perhaps with tighter editing of the book, certain repetitions and shortcomings could have been avoided.
The rich collection of photographs in the book is its actual strength. The pictures used in the book or similar images may be familiar to us, but captured in the coffee table book, these photographs stand out in a vivid new manner. For example, the picture of the historic 7 March speech has been spread out over two full pages towards the beginning of the book. The excitement and enthusiasm of those who were present at the racecourse grounds that day, listening with rapt attention to that speech, the hopes and the aspirations that spilled over, are still palpable today. The majestic proportions of this photograph take us back to that day. Anyone browsing through the book, even of the new generation or of a foreign land, will be struck by the passion in the picture, will be moved. The full text of the 7 March speech in translation no doubt is a valuable addition to the book.
The Himalayas may not be within Bangladesh's boundaries, but this man as mighty as the Himalayas, has illuminated the history of the land
The 200 photographs in the book make it an important documentation of history. Had the name of the photographers been included along with the caption of each photograph, it would have enriched the documentation further. Hopefully this will be given due attention in the next edition.
The oil painting by artist Shahabuddin on the cover takes the book to a different height. The painter's brush reflects that determination in Bangabandhu's face. As he stands there tall, the famous finger raised in the air, in his white panjabi and black coat, we are reminded of Castro's words. The Himalayas may not be within Bangladesh's boundaries, but this man as mighty as the Himalayas, has illuminated the history of the land. Thank you, Enayetullah Khan, for presenting anew the story of this larger-than-life man.
Bangabandhu, Epitome of a Nation, Enayetullah Khan, Cosmos Books, Dhaka 2018, Pages 168, Price: Tk 2,500