Saturday, 30 May 2020

Book Review: Unlocked by Sonia Dogra

Book: Unlocked: Historical Tales in Verse
Author: Sonia Dogra
Genre: Poetry | History
Format: PDF
Pages: 134

Blurb: Is history your Waterloo? No more!
The anthem ‘History is Boring’ is now passé.
Here is a collection of historical tales about rebellious dancers and whiskeys; mysterious burials and missing keys; lost medals and quarantines and all you could only imagine to be.
Presenting twenty-five delectable stories from the past that you may never have heard of before.
What’s more? They are sassy and classy; easy and breezy; terse and very much in verse!

An enjoyable poetic ride in the fascinating land of history

Sonia Dogra's "Unlocked: Historical Tales in Verse" is an exquisite collection of 25 selected historical tales in the form of verse. The author dedicates the book to all children who grew up wondering why they were even taught history in school. In the prologue, there is an enjoyable poem called "From History with Love" that gives a warm embrace to all the readers embarking on the poetic ride. This poem from History sets the mood and tone of the book perfectly. 

The book is divided into 2 sections: The Famous and the Infamous and Epoch Making Episodes. The author introduces us to Adolf Hitler's abusive childhood in the very first poem, leaving us to contemplate how the course of history would have changed if only Hitler had a normal childhood or was send to the psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud's therapy at the right time. This poem stayed with me long after I finished reading it as it provided great food for thought. We are so quick to judge the villains of the yesteryears. If only we knew the circumstances that led to their personality! The author's powerful words coupled with extensive research made me pause and think even after I finished reading the book. 

There are poems from Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Genghis Khan, Mukhammad Ali's life that bewitched me with wonder. The author has chosen incidents that are not often mentioned in history textbooks, thereby making the book so interesting. 

Another poem that I absolutely loved in "The Famous and the Infamous" section is "A Nose that Poked History". The author has weaved a delightful poem on Cleopatra's nose. 

"It was the nose, says he
That cast its magical spell,
On the great men of Rome
Who for the queen fell."

Another such poem is El Barbudo the Bearded One. The author's sense of humor and rhyming lines created magic in these two poems. 

The author has weaved poems on the bravery of unknown women who had contributed to the freedom struggle. The poem on the Cawnpore Courtesans helped me know about the contribution of these brave courtesans in Mahatma Gandhi's noncooperation movement. The poem "Virangana, the Valiant Women" acquainted me with some valiant female warriors of India about whom we hardly know. 

The section "Epoch making episodes" starts with the poem "The Harrowed Line" which is about the heartwrenching India Pakistan partition. This poem is one of my favorites for the agony, pathos, and hard-hitting reality that it portrays. The bruises of partition keep haunting people even after all these years. And the author has done complete justice to it. 

"Neat lines supposedly drawn on maps
Unharmoniously amputate
People and lands."

"Nobody was ever held to account for the inferno that flared
The truth is that politics
Never did care."

There are poems on the Hiroshima Nagasaki bombings, fascinating tales of second world war, the missing key that led to the devastating fate of Titanic and so much more. There is a very relatable poem on "Quarantine" that gives an account of all the times when the human race had to battle an epidemic. 

The author concludes by saying that reading history can help us know how to serve humanity and know the mistakes that should never be repeated. The intention with which the author has penned down this book is praiseworthy. Kudos to the extensive research conducted by the author! The book is informative, enriching, and enjoyable. The cover does complete justice to the book. The author has also given a lot of thought to the layout and presentation of the book.

"Unlocked" is a book that you can return again and again to drown yourself in the aroma of history. Each time, it will make you think, enrich you with knowledge, and perhaps make you a better person too. Recommended to both poetry and history lovers!  

You can download a free copy of the book at

The book review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program

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