On 8th October 2005 there occurred in Northern Pakistan a movement of the earth's tectonic plates so devastatingly cataclysmic that entire mountain sides crashed to the floors of valleys,giant fissures opened to swallow and entomb farmers and their flocks, a generation of children was crushed to death under the roofs of their ill-constructed schools, villages and towns crumbled wholesale to rubble and a myriad souls perished in the debris. This is a valuable historical record of what followed, at both micro and macro-levels, seen through the eyes of but one of the thousands of aid workers and volunteers who worked in the affected region - the towns of Mansehra and Muzaffarabad, Bagh Batagram and Balakot, the valleys of Kaghan, Neelum and Alai, of Siran, Swat and Jhelum. Here is a unique windown on the suffering endured by the survivors and a tale of the immense courage of afflicted people whose hugely blighted lives could never again be the same.
(Unusually, following the disaster the Author assisted directly within a Pakistani NGO - Pattan - whose National Coordinator subsequently wrote to this effect: "On the day after the earthquake when I travelled to Balakot to assess the scale of the disaster I was overwhelmed, knowing very well that Pattan alone, despite its long experience, would not be able to assist a fraction of the victims effectively. We applied to VSO-UK for a disaster expert and when John Lane and his wife reached Islamabad they were immediately rushed to Balakot where Pattan had already established a tent village. They worked with Pattan for almost six months, carrying out their responsibilities with that rare combination of care and compassion backed by professional skill, and spent a great deal of their time with earthquake victims and in the process formed close bonds with them. In October 2008 they revisited Balakot and this book reflects the depth of Mr Lane's relationship with the survivors and with Pattan. Now - October 2010 - without being physically present John Lane is guiding us daily in our current Indus flood catastrophe, through his book ZALZALA. This is perhaps the first book written by a foreign volunteer on the 2005 earthquake. Pattan is humbled at being his host organisation and honoured to be associated with the publication of this book.")
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Reader's Review (J.Chesters - Jan 2012, London): "I finished ZALZALA a few days ago. I now feel quite at a loss - such is the way in which one gets caught up in the world depicted in John Lane's books. I really loved reading this: serious, funny, charming, sad by turns - it's another winner."
Review - RN Sailing Association Journal (Winter 2011): "John Lane gives a detailed and graphic account of the efforts made in the aftermath of the earthquake, brought very much alive by engaging and vivid pen pictures concerning the incidents and personalities along the way. His excellent work gives much food for thought ... sadly too, it reminds us of how quickly the world forgets."
The Naval Review/Amazon (February 2012): "One might think that reading such an account would be grim, both in terms of the situation described and in terms of its content. Not so! Lane writes in highly literate prose and introduces an element of humour ... quotations throughout the book lend the narrative a lightness. He also has an undisguised disdain for elements of officialdom. This book was a surprise! It is clearly written by someone who enjoyed his time in Pakistan."
Zalzala – Diary of a Disaster
(South East Asia Earthquake 2005)
Published by Erudite eBooks - Kindle £6.90
(Hardback 'seconds' – ISBN 978-0-9566622-2-4: £6.95 direct from Author; order by e-mail)
Zalzala is the prize-winning frontline account of the 2005 South East Asia Earthquake by best selling author John Lane. The book charts six months of rescue and aid efforts in the foothills of the Himalyas in the aftermath of the disaster that left over three million people homeless, and recounts the efforts made to help the victims in the immediate wake of the tragedy and to ensure their survival through the ensuing winter and thereafter. It also relates what had been achieved on the long road to the 'restoration of normality' some three years after the catastrophic event. This absorbing book is a compelling read, and will, moreover, serve to inform those in the field of humanitarian aid concerning effective responses during the relief, rehabilitation and recuperation phases subsequent to any major natural disaster, highlighting some of the pitfalls to be avoided.
'Won First Prize for excellence and accomplishment in the Community Grand Award competition of the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Writing Awards in London on 11th May 2011'
Illustrated presentation by arrangement - 60 minutes with questions.
Reader's Review (James Anthony - Aug 2011): "John Lane's account of the effects of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan is as definitive as it is gripping, leaving the reader in no doubt as to how difficult it is to rebuild an infrastructure torn away by a natural disaster ... all related in a matter-of-fact, good yarn kind of way. Essential reading for anyone contemplating a career in disaster relief and humanitarian firefighting ... a blueprint that aid workers would be silly to ignore."