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Wings of Fire by Arun Tiwari and APJ Abdul Kalam (Book Review 001)


ISBN: 8173711461

Tagline: An autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam with Arun Tiwari

Wings of fire was perhaps the first book which I had read completely and which was not a part of my school or college syllabus :-). I had read this book in 2003 i.e. after Dr. Kalam was appointed the President of India. As I was not into the habit of reading then, I wondered if I would be able to finish this book but I did finish it and within a short time too. In this book, almost every third line which Dr. Kalam speaks appears to collectible quote. I had re-read the book in 2004 and still experienced the same feeling of awe in which I was left when I had read this book a year ago.
wingsoffire.JPGAbout the Author

As per the preface, Arun Tiwari had worked with Dr. Kalam for over a decade and was involved in the project on Akash missile airframe. Arun was so fascinated by Dr. Kalam’s range of ideas and thought process that he decided to pen down Dr. Kalam’s recollections before they get buried irretrievably under the sands of time.

Arun Tiwari has done a commendable job and I am glad that the life of this great scientist did not go undocumented.

Wings of Fire

“Wings of Fire” is the life story of Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India. A notable scientist and an engineer, Dr. Kalam is often referred to as the Missile Man of India. He played a key role in developing India’s first and indigenously made: ballistic missiles, hovercraft, Nuclear-strike capable missiles and made immense contribution to the Guided Missiles Development programme and various ISRO projects.

Dr. Kalam was born at Rameswaram in Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, to a working class Tamil Muslim family. He received his degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1958.

He joined India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) upon graduation to work on a hovercraft project. In 1962, Dr. Kalam moved to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), where his team successfully launched several satellites. He made a significant contribution as Project Director to develop India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully placed the Rohini satellite into near earth orbit in July 1980.

In 1982, Kalam returned to the DRDO as Director, focusing on Indigenous guided missiles. He was responsible for the development and operational success of the Agni and Prithvi missiles. This earned him the sobriquet “India’s missile-man”. He also helped in the formulation of healthcare products using technology developed for missiles.

In July 1992, Kalam became a Scientific Advisor to India’s Defense Minister. As the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Indian government, he held the rank of a Cabinet Minister. His work led to the successful Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, which reiterated India’s position as a nuclear weapon state. Kalam was also the Chairman, Ex-officio, of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) and piloted the “India Millennium Mission 2020”. (Short summary picked from wikipedia)

Kalam has the unique distinction of having received honorary doctorates from at least thirty universities, as also India’s three highest civilian honors: the Padma Bhushan in 1981; the Padma Vibhushan in 1990; and the Bharat Ratna in 1997.

In this book, Dr. Kalam has described the various projects he undertook and shows how a person can manage a large team of experts without any formal knowledge in project management and team dynamics. He never fails to acknowledge his co-workers, team members and others of importance, throughout the book. The book is dotted with snippets of poetry and hymns that Dr. Kalam is fond of and has collected over his life time.

Dr. Kalam is one of the few Indian scientists who had the opportunity to work with Indian space research stalwarts like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and interact with pioneers of missile technology like Wernher Von Braun. His works have put India on the nuclear map of the world and made it a part of an elite club of nations. In the words of the man himself:

“Do not look at Agni as an entity directed upwards to deter the ominous or exhibit your might. It is fire in the heart of an Indian. Do not even give it the form of a missile as it clings to the burning pride of this nation and thus is bright.”

Another quote from the book:

“Technology, unlike science, is a group activity. It is not based on an individual’s intelligence, but on the interacting intelligence of many.”

I strongly suggest that this book be read to know/understand the man behind India’s burst into the international arena of the elites as far as its defense capabilities are concerned.



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  • jacob

    I like this book and learnt more on Dr. Abdul Kalam

  • jacob

    I like this book and learnt more on Dr. Abdul Kalam

  • ANJALI.C

    i like this book and has read it because i wanted to learn more about Dr.Abdul kalam

  • ANJALI.C

    i like this book and has read it because i wanted to learn more about Dr.Abdul kalam

  • AMALA

    i really loved reading this book, it has helped me a lot

  • AMALA

    i really loved reading this book, it has helped me a lot

  • nandha kumar.m

    I like Abdul Kalam and his activities because he is very simple person.

  • nandha kumar.m

    I like Abdul Kalam and his activities because he is very simple person.

  • kg gupta

    He is really the ideal of india youth, so simple, passionated for work and work innocently for youths… I really appreciate his work

  • kg gupta

    He is really the ideal of india youth, so simple, passionated for work and work innocently for youths… I really appreciate his work

  • G.R.SELVAKUMAR

    This Book Wings of Fire is very nice & the most useful book I have read in my life…APJ.Abdul kalam is a great person & his achievements are commedable…
    Thanks,
    G.R.SELVAKUMAR

  • G.R.SELVAKUMAR

    This Book Wings of Fire is very nice & the most useful book I have read in my life…APJ.Abdul kalam is a great person & his achievements are commedable…
    Thanks,
    G.R.SELVAKUMAR

  • bhavik

    this book is the best book i have ever read

  • bhavik

    this book is the best book i have ever read

  • srichand

    this book is superb

  • Annageorge501

    It is a great book and i liked it very much

  • pankaj janghel

    really this book is much magnificient

  • Pavan rao

    this book is a must read

  • DAREDEVIL ASHVIN

    I HAD INTEREST IN HIM,,,,BUT FINALLY READ IT ‘COZ I HAD A PROJECT OVER IT N AS PER D BOOK IS CONCERNED ITS NICE

  • Khananshu83

    it’ss really a very nice book.

  • Singh_pr2006

    “Technology, unlike science, is a group activity. It is not based on an individual’s intelligence, but on the interacting intelligence of many.”

    above mentioned quote shows, he is not a great scientist but he is a great human kind because ego not at all

  • sk Sharma

    godd one

  • Mohan VSP

    Technology, unlike science, is a group activity. It is not based on an
    individual’s intelligence, but on the interacting intelligence of many.”

    Nice quote…………

  • Rakhi

    This book is really inspiring

  • Ekta

    a must read

  • Nandinifeather

    its a great book of a great man!

  • Manish mahi

    I  like  this book.because this book give knowledge of my admire Dr. kalam.& many others knowledge about isro, its really very nice book.