No One Had a Tongue to Speak The Untold Story of One of History’s Deadliest Floods

by Utpal Sandesara and Tom Wooten

  1. ISBN: 978-81-291-1989-6
  2. Pages: 444 pages
  3. Date: June 2012


In the monsoon of ‘79, the Machhu dam collapsed after incessant rains. The town of Morbi was almost washed away and the death toll exceeded 25,000. The immense loss to life and property was followed by a blame game between authorities. This book, based on over 130 interviews and extensive research, gives a bona fide account of the heart-wrenching tragedy that wiped out entire families, and brings to light the long-hidden human errors that culminated in disaster.
Grounded in meticulous archival research, this eye-opening account of the Machhu dam disaster unfolds almost like a novel as it recounts a historic human tragedy and its aftermath. No One Had a Tongue to Speak paints a vivid portrait of an India torn between its feudal past and its industrial future, and the consequences of rapid yet short-sighted growth.
‘[This] fascinating story about an Indian dam disaster should be required reading for anyone interested in modern India, the environment, or narrative nonfiction… One of the most important books about India in recent years.’


Utpal Sandesara grew up in a Gujarati-American household in New Jersey and attended college at Harvard. His mother’s experience as a Machhu flood survivor led to his interest in the research that became this book. He now attends the University of Pennsylvania, where he is jointly pursuing an MD and a PhD in anthropology. In his free time, he enjoys learning languages, reading world literature, and riding the bicycle Tom built for him.
Tom Wooten attended college at Harvard. A keen interest in environmental issues and development led him to collaborate with Utpal Sandesara on this book. Since 2008, Tom has lived and worked in New Orleans, where he studies community recovery efforts. He also teaches writing at KIPP McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts in New Orleans as a Teach for America corps member. His forthcoming book is called We Shall Not Be Moved: Rebuilding Home in the Wake of Katrina.

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