On 11 May 1998 the Indian government tested five nuclear devices some forty kilometers from Pokaran. Seventeen days later Pakistan tested nuclear devices of its own. About three months after the tests, Amitav Ghosh went to the Pokaran area, after which he visited Kashmir as part of the defense minister's entourage. He also went to the Siachen glacier in the Karakoram Mountains where Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been exchanging fire since 1983. Ghosh then travelled through Pakistan and Nepal.
Countdown is partly a result of these journeys and conversations with many hundreds of people of the subcontinent. In its description the book is haunting and evocative; and its analyses of the compulsions behind South Asia's nuclearization, and the implications of this, are profound, deeply disturbing and, ultimately, chilling.
'A writer of formidable learning and intelligence' - Indian Express
'What do you say about a writer like Amitav Ghosh? That he is a social anthropologist, a novelist, a commentator on events, a critic? He is all these; if anyone comes close to a modern renaissance man, it has to be him' - India Today
'Ghosh has established himself as one of the finest prose writers of his generation of Indian writing in English' - Financial Times
'Ghosh is a traveller in the physical as well as the metaphysical, a writer of formidable learning and intelligence' - Indian Express