Sunday, March 18, 2018
This post is a review of the latest book by Martin Medows. A shorter name for the book is Self Disciplined Producer by Martin Medows
I downloaded two free books authored by Martin Medows. I downloaded the third book by Martin Medows which was suggested in the books which I had already downloaded. I have commented on two of his books on this blog. I communicated with Martin Medows through emails. I checked his YouTube Displays. I watched a person talking to his audience. Is he the real Martin Medows? Martin Medows is a pen name of the author. I had sent him a direct question and asked him about his real name. However, he skipped the straight answer. He sends newsletters. In one of the letter, he announced the launch of his new book. He wrote that the price as suggested in the email would be increased after the promotional period ends. I bought the book. The book, Self Disciplined Producer - Develop a Powerful Work Ethic, Improve Your Focus, and Produce Better Results is the topic of commentary here. Quite a long title. However, the book is not long at all. It contains 100 pages. I bought it for ₹49. However, now it is for ₹260. In short, he has made a sale by his skills.
Martin Medows has repeated it in his book that he is not much concerned by developing social media content with the motive of promoting his book. He suggests a very pragmatic, workable and practical solution and it is, that an author should come up with a new title at a regular interval. That sounds a sensible thing. That is the nature of his advice. They are not elaborate. They are the matter of fact advice. They are experientialist advice. They are the direct action advice. He preaches what he practices. That is the hallmark of the contents of his book. On the other hand, he is not adverse to aggressively market his product. He has adopted the technique of developing an email list of interested readers. He brings his work in the multiple emerging formats of publishing like Audiobooks and podcasts. In short, he makes a sale by his skills.
Now something about the book and the contents.
The book is spread over seven essays. The content includes one Prologue, five chapters and ends with an Epilogue.
The chapter 1, The Common Habits, the writer talks about the procrastination and how to deal with it. He has given his analysis of the feature of procrastination. The writer has developed his narrative according to his analysis. He has referred to some sources which are available on the Internet. He has suggested some solutions to deal with procrastination.
In Chapter 2, If you can't wait, he writes about necessary sacrifices which one has to make to achieve success.
In chapter 2, he has made an observation. He writes, "Different techniques work for different people, so try few and see what works."
Now, the observation of the writer as mentioned above is correct about all the Self Improvement literature. I have already said it in one of my posts. The writer writes the similar type of the matter of facts statements.
The writer talks about Krav Maga technique. It seems that he is a rock climber and love this sport more than any other game. In one of his other book, he has also talked about some specific feature of self-improvement methods. Therein, he had informed of a software Xmind to record progress. He writes about such features in self-disciplining and improvements in a manner as if he is sharing his own secret. The actual thing is that one should develop the ability to learn and incorporate different devices and techniques in his daily life to improve one's personality. One should drop rigidity. One should remove aversions. One should stop making the final statements. One should be open to innovation and experimentation without compromising his morality and social ethics.
Chapter 3 is titled as Does his matter. In his promotional letter, the writer has asked a question for providing a new free ebook by quizzing that which is the third letter in the book. It was used as another marketing technique.
The central theme of the chapter is that one should adopt one target approach. One should make one's task simpler. One should watch for those tasks and acts which increases the productivity and profit. It is a very pertinent suggestion. We clutter our mind by numerous rituals and practices which reduces are output. It is more accurate in case of Indians – Bhartiyas as they have an instinct to develop rituals and rites about the general course of actions. The message of the writer is that one should get melted into one's passion.
The Chapter 4, is called Go for Extreme. This chapter is primarily about the time management. It talks about learning the limits of one's endurance in case of mind and physical strength.
The Chapter 5, is about the importance of rest.
However, he makes an interesting observation. While emphasising the need of doing exercise as a part of one's personality development, he writes, "I won't bother with citing scientific research about its well-known benefits." The point for attention in the line is the phrase "bother with citing scientific research". That is the thing. He writes about his experiential observations. It is writing norm which he has adopted that when he makes his statement, he substantiate with a reference which is termed as research-based fact. The emphasis of research-based facts; quoting of research-based reports of some institution, laboratory, universities or science magazine to authenticate one claim is a fashion, a fad, a norm. A writer tells about his observations. The writer provides references from thirty to forty sources. Where should a reader go? Is the reader expected to check every text? If one goes by scientific temperament approach, then he or she is supposed to verify the claim. It is not possible in the art of reading. The writers must say his thing. However, he should do it in a manner, wherein the narrative itself remains consistent. There is no need of giving references to different sources every time.
In the Epilogue, the writer has tried to summarise his whole work. The feature of the summary was seen being appreciated by one of the reviewer and commentator in the comment section at Amazon portal.
I end the essay with an observation. All these self-improvement books can be divided into two sets. One set contains books wherein the writer talks about some gurus, religious scriptures and esoteric philosophy for personality development. The second set is of such writers who refer to scientific observations and research reports. Both the groups adopt an anchoring in a faith system – if one refers to Godly things then other suggests Scientific things. Nobody talks about the actual person. One should tell that it is YOU who have to change. Even education system is not able to resolve the purpose of its endeavours. The society needs the individuals who are trained for their perfection. For that, the individual should learn to think and experiment. For that, he does not have to visit a laboratory, or fitness studio or psychiatrist. His self is with him and within him. He has to learn how to use the arms, hands, legs and brain. A person is not a car in which a mechanic will perform the maintenance operation. A person is a mechanic for himself. He has to develop faith in himself and improve his skills of a mechanic who can correct his body and mind machine. All the gyms, doctors, laboratories and psychiatrist can be a help. However, the deciding factor is the self.
The need is to develop the man in the man by the man.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
The complete name of the title is Mafia Queens of Mumbai – Stories of women from the ganglands by S. Hussain and Jane Borges. It was published by Tranquebar Press, Westland Ltd., in 2011. It was released before the two titles by the same author which were Dongri to Dubai, and Byculla to Bangkok and reviewed on this blog. It was published long after the earlier book by the same author titled The Black Friday. The Black Friday was published in 2002 and produced into a Bollywood Movie.
The different titles by the same author were published by different publishers. He had probably started with Penguin and later shifted to different publishers.
The book contains a forward by Vishal Bhardwaj, a highly acclaimed music director, a great fan of R. D. Burman (whom the blogger also admires), Indian film director, screenwriter, producer and playback singer. The blogger, being an ardent fan of Pancham Music got attracted towards Vishal's music in Maachis (1996). After that, the blogger followed the news items related to Vishal Bhardwaj.
However, when I, the writer of the blog, read the forward penned by Vishal Bhardwaj, I was highly disappointed and aghast to learn the mind structure of the celebrity whom I admired. He wrote that crime was juicier than spirituality. The startling comparison is beyond imagination. Probably, he intently framed the sentence to attract the attention of the reader but betrayed his mental makeup. As for his opinion about crime reporting is concerned, I am unable to imagine that in 2011 when he penned this forward, he did not correlate it to his work in the film industry which had already started portraying the crime world on celluloid. Maybe, there is a different world around me, about which I have no inkling, and it is beyond my perception and imagination. A music director with highly admirable sensibility and sensitivity that I compared him with Pancham, wrote such a distorted perception of the surrounding. I have abstained from using some more damaging superlatives and adjectives and believed that the term distortion conveys them all. Vishal Bhardwaj, if you happen to read here, then, kindly review and ponder about your thinking process. Writing a script to define a character is entirely different from writing a forward to a book which is being published.
Somewhere Zaidi had mentioned that he was always interested in writing a novel and some publisher suggested him to write in the non-fiction genre. It seems that the Novel writer in Zaidi remains unborn in him and continue to struggle to come out in his writings. It was quite evident in his other titles also, and some reviewers had even criticised his style of writing when he tried to give dialogues to his characters who were real people and not a result of the work of fiction. However, in the introduction of this book, he had tried to neutralise his critics by declaring in the introduction to the book that he would use 'Literary Licence' to present his material. He has used it in abundance, but his work is non-fictional. This book is an account of real people and shreds of evidence are provided in illustrations in the form of photographs and contents of the established documents which are referred in writing the book.
Geraldine Forbes, an established scholar on Women studies, while writing the history of the Women in Modern India, made an academic observation that those who undertake to study of women or gender relations, they encounter the problem of finding the factual material for the women and primarily by the women themselves. However, Zaidi has provided here a document which contains the material to work on the women studies even if they belonged to the categories of criminals. I can not claim to be a scholar, but it is my experience that one does not find any documented material on women. Geraldine Forbes in the Bibliography essay to her book had given a long list but commented on the shortcomings of each of the view. While describing the stories of different women in their role in different categories during the modern period of India, the narration always remained incomplete as there was a shortage of materials on women. Zaidi has used different sources to collect the material on women who were and are mainly concentrated in one region of India. He had recorded a quantity of oral history. Many of the profile which he had tried to delineate, remained incomplete but here is an attempt to develop an archive of a selected group of women and their social milieu.
The book contains the profile of 13 women who took to crime. The profile of each of them is of a varied length and variety. Some of the characters are clubbed in one chapter. In chapter six, seven and eight, he has packed a couple of profiles in each chapter. Being an established reporter and journalist, he might have collected material on the activities of different people. One can understand that he could not have used it in the regular newspapers and magazines due to the constraints of the rules of journalism and news reporting agencies. Some of them are incomplete and confined to the quantity of the information which the writer has collected till the time of writing the book. On the whole, there are eight chapters in which 13 characters are delineated and described.
The journalists and reporters talk about the things as they happen. However, while narrating the events, they interject their opinions in such a manner that it becomes a biased presentation. Here, the historians are needed to undertake the job of telling. There is the need to emphasis on the cause and effect relation by finding more antecedents. However, one can not overlook the work of reporters. They are also the eyewitness. They follow the lead, and they record extensive oral history from such people who happened to be participants but did not get mentioned in the overall documents. Zaidi has another urge in him. He always desires to write a novel. The films are produced on books written by S. H. Zaidi. Vishal Bhardwaj openly declares in the forward that he has an understanding with Zaidi that Zaidi would share his new book with him to check if he can use the storyline to produce a fresh film. Now Zaidi also writes his book as if he is going to present his work to a film producer before bringing it before his readers. That is why there are some objections by other reviewers that Zaidi is not writing non-fiction. He tries to construct the settings with his imagination while narrating the facts. It gives a jarring jolt to the reader while perceiving the contents.
The issue suggested above can be well demonstrated. In the introduction itself, Zaidi writes, " Crime was not only a way of transcending their poverty and limitations but also a life-saving concept." Now, this is a Zaidi aphorism. A question arises, then why do the rich people also commit a crime? They are not constraint by any paucity of money. They have recourse to legal protection. The main argument is that it is a type of journalistic elaboration and generalisations which make their writing 'juicier'. It cannot be rated as an intellectual activity. It may be a literary device to make the book exciting and develop an interest in the essays. However, it is not excellent service. Similarly, while writing about Gangubai, he has emphasised on her speech which she gave for the sex workers. Zaidi has done a great job in bringing attention to a pertinent issue. However, he has not activated his journalist skill to add in some supporting pieces of evidence and testimonies. He has instead gone to make it more sensationalised to report that Gangubai even met Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Zaidi wrote a scandalous interview between the two and then covered it up by adding that there was no proof of the nature of the discussion which took place between the two people.
Similarly, while developing the profile of Ashraf Khan who became famous as Sapna Didi, Zaidi had written details in a manner as if he was writing a script for a movie. Zaidi presented it as a reminiscence of Hussain Ustra, a notorious person, who was killed long back. Zaidi has great admiration for Vikram Chandra, an established novelist, and Zaidi makes him a testimony in this case as it was Zaidi who had helped Vikram Chandra to meet Hussian Ustra. The whole profile of Ashraf Khan alias Sapna Didi is built with dialogue bazi and this feature is the one that the reviewers have objected to in the writing style of Zaidi in case of non-fiction. Gradually Zaidi has written many such comments in between that are the basis of another type of criticism on his style of writing. However, he has also made such observations which demands attention by the security agencies. It is not the issue of actual work of police, security forces, intelligence agencies and military intelligence. Zaidi has pointed out that how the mind of people who are marked as criminals works. While writing about Sapna Didi, he narrated that how she managed to cross India Nepal border easily. Zaidi has identified the areas and loopholes which were used and still being used.
Similarly, Zaidi brings out the shortcomings of the law enforcement agencies. Zaidi attributes a comment to Jyoti Adiramalingam of Reay Road Railway Station in Mumbai. Jyoti spoke, "Small fry like us always get convicted, but big sharks manage to dodge the law and remain elusive. They outsmart the whole judiciary machinery." Now, such type of statements is highly erudite statements which could come out from some expert on crime. However, such statements and similar more are attributed to people who are shown as illiterate and poor. It questions the actual definition of Crime.
In the same manner, in case of Asha Gawli, it is projected not only in this work but also in other works of Zaidi, that those who started their life in Middle Classes turned to crime and then take protection by joining politics. I have, being a history student, learned that one of the vital force of happenings is the interface of Wealth, Knowledge and Power. On the other hand, the books by Zaidi on criminals and especially his work on women try to demonstrate that the Crime, Money and Power through Politics are more active in comparison to what the university scholars try to prove. The only difference is that Wealth, Knowledge and Power paradigm is discussed by academics and the model of the Crime, Money and Power through Politics is the theme of news reporters and political science. They steer towards debating the issue of ethics without bringing in a clear picture and thus further obfuscate the problem which in turns further strengthen the life force of such activities. It is similarly shown in case of the profile of Neeta Nair, the wife of Ashwin Nair; a qualified Engineer shifted to crime.
Further, in case of Sujata Nikhalje, the wife of Chotta Rajan, Zaidi again develops a profile that how a less qualified person raised the business as if she has done an MBA from IIM Calcutta and compared her success to Indra Niyogi. Such stories emphasise that these people who are considered criminals and then escaped or dodged the law enforcing agencies should be subject to study and research by academics so that some vital workable solutions may come up.
In this book also, there are numerous examples, which tell that Bollywood is financed by these people. They are not only funded, but they are content providers for the storylines. The three books by Zaidi which I have read by now, are all meant for the Bollywood ready-made storylines. In this book, there are explanations for the making of Company and Vaastav, both of them were highly successful films.
In the Book, Zaidi has taken Religion angle again and again. However, he has brought out a fascinating thing about the religion angle. The women criminal readily convert from one religion to other religion from Hindu, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity.
In case of Padma Poojary, Zaidi has made a fascinating observation. Zaidi writes that Padma believed that Bollywood and business class were the real mines of wealth. Her life was also a subject of the storyline of the Bollywood movie in the movie World Cupp 2011.
In case of Ms Paul, Zaidi has brought out another feature of the Underworld. The people ruling the underworld has been shown as excellent recruitment master. Their skills of poaching and recruiting people from both genders are better than any qualified Human Resource Manager or established Recruitment and Placement Company.
The Underworld has more progressive and brighter way of personnel management. They provide financial backup to the participants and their families when they deal with the legal system. Zaidi has covered this issue in all the three books which I have read.
Now I have one more book written by Zaidi. I have tried to buy one more title written by Zaidi but failed due to a technical glitch of e-payment. Now onwards, after reading the fourth book, I am going to leave the Crime work and revert to history and philosophy. I wish that Zaidi may be able to write a novel like Vikram Chandra.
I wish to make an observation after reading the books by Zaidi. I believe that there is a need to make the rise of crime in independent India as a subject of academics. The history departments of the university must take it as a subject of specialisation. In case of Punjab University, they have made a separatist movement as the subject of study. The term Khalistan appears prominently in the syllabus of Punjab History of the Punjab University Chandigarh. The historians are unbiased. They study the activity of man as it had occurred. Today, D Company challenges the State of India by its existence. The issue of terrorism is a subject which is debated among the university scholars. It should become more specific. It should not remain confined to study of Law. It should be taken up with the History departments also.
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Thursday, March 8, 2018
Felix Yusupov - The Man Who Murdered Rasputin by Christopher Dobson
Who was Rasputin?
Probably, many would like to answer it.
Who was Felix Yusupov?
There is every apprehension that many would not identify him. It depends to which continent one belongs and ones awareness, interests and culture that may bring up different answers. In case, if there is an answer, then, it would be that he was the Russian prince who killed Rasputin.
The book under consideration is “Prince Felix Yusupov Christopher Dobson The Man Who Murdered Rasputin”.
The title appears in that order on the book. Christopher Dobson killed Rasputin or Prince Felix Yusupov? The title is worded in that manner. It can not be helped. The arrangement of the terms in the title itself elicited this comment.
However, Prince Felix Yusupov, The Man Who Murdered Rasputin is written by Christopher Dobson. Christopher Dobson is a journalist and freelance writer. Some of his titles which are coauthored with other writers have attracted the attention of the reviewers of India Today because Christopher Dobson writes about terrorists.
The book was first published in 1989 by Harrap Books Ltd. The book presently reviewed is an epub which was published by Endeavour Press Ltd. Now here is an anecdote which is narrated as follows.
Why is this book picked?
I learned about Felix Yusupov when reading 'The End of Rasputin Reign' in book Grigori Rasputin – A Life from Beginning to End' published by Hourly History. I have read many titles from Hourly History. I do not write any review on each of them. The Hourly History idea of producing books spread over 40 to 50 pages does not attract much. The contents of such books are similar to that of essays available on Wikipedia. The name of the author is not given. The finner point of these books is that the publication intelligently develops chapters. They introduce the topic with an overall idea behind the subject of their writing.
In case of the title on Rasputin, they have written a very gripping story of the act of murder of Rasputin. It is not available in that form on Wikipedia. I did not know about Felix Yusupov. I have not read much about Russian history. My reading of Russian history is confined to textbooks. The episode of the murder is narrated in an attracting manner. Therefore, it prompted me to learn about Felix Yusupov.
I searched for details on Felix Yusupov. I came across the title written by Christopher Dobson. I located the book on Amazon. I went through the glimpse into the book. I found that Christopher Dobson had worked as a journalist during the Soviet Union period. In brief on the writer, it is written that he lives in Sussex and writes on terrorism. After that, the following lines appear and verified that they still appear there as on March 6, 2018.
“Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent digital publisher. For more information on our titles, please sign up for our newsletter at www.endeavourpress.com. Each week you will receive updates on free and discounted ebooks."
The above lines appear in the post as it is placed on the site of Amazon. The publisher had suggested that they also provide free ebooks.
“Free”. Now that is something which always attracts.
Further, the publisher has written following line about itself.
Endeavour Press believes that the future is now.
I was attracted by the brief description about the publisher. I tried to explore their site. It happened thus.
When I logged into the site of the publisher, a message was seen displayed that the company of the publisher had applied for liquidation. It intrigued me. I drew an inference that soon the book would be removed from the list of sellers. (My apprehension had materialized into a reality. The Amazon removed this book from its seller's list when checked in on March 12, 2018. However, a different selling source was selling it at a higher cost.)It may reappear with a different price tag. The details as provided about the book was quite impressive. Therefore, I decided to buy it under the apprehension that it would be removed from the selling list.
The whole thing is quite intriguing. The contents are equally intriguing. My overworked imagination developed an undesirable conspiracy theory behind it. The author lives in Sussex. The UK was the country which fought against Germany. Russia, after becoming the USSR worked against the monarchy. All the prominent monarchs lost their throne, but some of them have survived, and the royal house of the UK is one of them. I baked my conspiracy pudding. It goaded me to buy it.
Let us see something about the contents.
It is a book in which gossips, historical facts, journalist opinion, international relations of erstwhile royal political players and history are packed.
The book is divided into two sections.
The section one is called the Splendour and Murder. It is about the splendour of the aristocratic families and Royal Romanov Dynasty. It is about the autocracy and its control. However, the central theme of this section is the murder of Gregori Efimovitch Rasputin, a peasant from Serbia who became a holy man. However, in general perception of one section of humanity, he was a man of evil nature who aroused great hatred in Russia and became the cause of obliteration of the Romanov Royalty. It is up to the reader to approve any side of the picture which is available in the written records, opinionated works and general perception. However, the first two chapters which make the opening of the story in the book are about the sequence of the murder of Rasputin. One may develop an impression, the book is about the murder of Rasputin and not about Prince Felix Yusupov.
The life of Prince Felix Yusupov is narrated in the second section titled Poverty and Redemption. Rasputin was killed in December 1916. His body was recovered on January 1, 1917. The Bolshevik Revolution took place in November 1917. Tsar Nicholas II and his family were butchered in July 1918. The aristocratic families escaped from Russia with the help of Britain in the British ship HMS Marlborough. Only Dowager Empress Marie was allowed entry in England and rest of the royalty had to make their own arrangements in different parts of Europe. From thereon, the story of Prince Felix Yusupov is narrated. The Prince escaped with jewels and lived by selling them throughout his life for his survival and repeatedly recounting his achievement of the murder of Rasputin. The Prince sold the jewels in Europe and America. Felix, the prince, tried the hand at the business with moderate success. Felix Yusupov and his wife moved cases against libel and won claims. The royal lady suffered the gruelling hardship of court proceedings for saving their reputation. In the end, Felix died like a saint. It is as told by the writer. In this way, a picture about the skills for the survival of an erstwhile royal family is depicted. No doubt, all these episodes are based on historical facts and not based on any fictional constructs.
Apart from the two sections of the story, there are some peculiar features of this book. The writer has given the list of characters in the introductory chapter. The writer writes about the historical figures and real happenings but starts his book as if he is going to narrate a story of theatrical drama. However, a writer is allowed a literary license even for a historical narration. History is also an art and literature both combined.
In the preface, the writer has recollected all the efforts which he made to develop this book. The writer recalls the people from whom he collected his material. He has acknowledged the resources which he tapped for checking his facts. However, at the end of the book, he provides a bibliography. But the narration suffered from a journalist touch to the historical narrative.
The writer has made some observations which may not be appreciated by all.
In chapter 10, "Killed by Savages" when the royal perpetrators of crime mismanaged the act of killing Rasputin and fumbled at every step that writer made the following comment.
“The men though who knew how to run Russia could not even dispose of a body efficiently.” Then he comments, “Future Russian leaders (Communist) would do much better.” Such a judgement may not be appreciated by the academic circle.
Further, in chapter 12, Exile, the writer reveals the working of the mind of English royal house and government. He made the following comment while narrating the operation of Exile as organized by the British government. He writes, "Albion had been perfidious once more."
The book is written by a native English speaker. Hence, the narration is quite lucid and communicative. The language is simple. There is no attempt to impress the reader with bombastic terms and expression.
It is just a coincidence that I was intrigued by the contents of the book and felt as if I read a worldwide conspiracy about which rest of the world is not aware, and a report appeared in March 2018 that a living Russian spy living in exile in the UK was poisoned.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Byculla to Bangkok by S. Hussain Zaidi
The first remark
I am unable to connect the contents with the title of the work.
About the Content
However, this work is not merely a journalist work which is depicted more in the first instalment with the heading Dongri to Dubai. This work is made to look like a research work wherein the author works like an academician. In the source sections, Zaidi has given the primary sources. The primary sources are such which qualify the definition of the term in the academic circle. They are the court records, police records and the statements of the main characters which were recorded as per the legal rules. It includes the “Personal Interviews” with the major characters who formed the underworld thus qualify another definition of the research method. However, he has not provided the questionnaire. He had fused the contents of his interviews with the content of the whole work. He has used the services of many other participants in the research and gives them the full credit in the source section and the illustrations which he has used as the displays in the book. There are some exclusive photographs.
The writer has also used the reports and opinion of his fellow colleagues with different newsmedia. He has used their ideas to build the body of his book.
Zaidi has used the academic works and eyewitness account and oral history. In case of developing the setting of Girangaon, these features are quite apparent. The Chapter 3, Girangaon: The Village of Mills is virtually a lecture in the introduction of the economic history. He has tried to give the historical analysis since the Queen's Proclamation. It reads like a lecture by a professor on the mercantilist period of Colonial India and rise of the Indian Capitalists under the Colonial rule. The writer has used an oral history of an eyewitness who had himself seen the changing skyline of Girangaon. It could be authenticated from the municipal records if attempt is made and the documents survives in the offices.
It is challenging to sustain the attention in the book as with every new chapter a new episode opens. Many readers probably will not able to make out any sense in some chapters which are actually the repetition of the chapters which are already written in Dongri to Dubai. There are many characters starting from Gawli, to Amar and Ashwin Nair to Shiv Sena people to the leaders of Mill workers to Dr Datta Samant to the encounter specialists like Salaskar, Pardeep Sharma et al., to the killing of Khatau, to Bollywood related episodes that it is difficult to sustain the attention. There are episodes about Bangkok but the attack on Chotta Rajan is not written again as it has already been done in Dongri to Dubai. The book is more about happenings in Mumbai. If there is an episode in Thailand and then there is a full-fledged episode in Dubai. The writer should have called this work as "Anno Domini of Mumbai Manush" in place of calling it Byculla to Bangkok.
One of the surprising things is that the writer has claimed it as a sequel to the Dongri to Dubai. Dongri to Dubai was published by Roli Books and contains a forward by an established writer. This book does not include any forward. Secondly, this book was published by HarperCollins India in 2014. The publisher certifcate is at the end of the book. It is seen for the first time by the blogger. The earlier book by Roli books was published in 2012.
Another feature is the peculiar use of terms, verbs, adjectives and phrases. The writer has tried to use the expression of native English speaker.
The book is full of information which is probably not available in academic texts. It demonstrates that the academicians, especially from the field of history, should include the crime in society as part social features of their scholarly works.
While rating this book, I will like to give 3 out of 5 stars. On the scale of 10, I will give 5. But, I will strongly recommend it for reading especially for the people from academics. One can appreciate its contents more if Dongri to Dubai by the same author, is read before it.
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Sunday, February 25, 2018
A Review on H. H. Holmes – The Life of the American Ripper by Hourly History.
Check the following list of the titles published by Hourly History a publication which probably originates from Ireland.
Jack – The Ripper - The Story of the Whitechapel Murderer
Ted Bundy - A Life Beginning to End
Edmund Kemper – The Life of the Co-Ed Killer
H. H. Holmes – The Life of The American Ripper
Charles Manson – A Life From Beginning to End
I do not have any information and understanding of the policy of the Hourly History publication, but I believe that soon the Hourly History would publish the following title.
Aileen Wuornos – A Life From Begining to End.
However, that is an inference which is a result of different inputs on my side which has prompted me to comment like that.
On the sideline, I add that they have taken up some titles which fulfils the definition of History. In support of my observation, I refer to "The Roaring Twenties". However, I will talk about that title in a separate post.
I have found another feature while reading three books by Hourly History. These are titles on H. H. Homes, Charles Manson and Edmund Kemper. All the three people were again in the news in the year 2017. In case of H. H. Holmes, I believe that cause was that his body was exhumed again in 2017 nearly after more than 100 years. I identified it when I was at the end of the reading the book which I have read in less than an hour. The search on the Internet yielded following observations, and I present it in the following manner.
Is Holmes the serial killer dead?
While reading the book, I was fascinated by a line that the body of the serial killer was exhumed in 2017. A desire arose to learn the necessity of such an act. I made some searches on the Internet. I suggest to the read the reports at the following link.
Why did I read it and then writing on it?
I was attracted to it because I learned that H. H. Holmes was living when Swami Vivekananda was in Chicago. Swami Vivekananda lived in Illinois and surrounding states when H. H. Holmes had been in the news. The USA was about to learn about their first serial killer when Swami Vivekananda was around. H. H. Holmes had visited the fair wherein the World Conference on Religion was held.
A Life from Beginning to End is dropped.
In case of titles published by Hourly History, I always had an objection that first, they used the term History which they should not have done and the second the feature which was the cause of the dissatisfaction was the phrase "From Beginning to End". They finish their book in less than 50 pages. They take up topics which are relevant, but they can not claim that it is a complete thing from beginning to end. The objection was that they could not say it in that manner. The Phrase picked by them conveys the idea that it is a complete work and that is not the case. However, in case of this book, they have used to term The Life of the American Ripper. They have not claimed it as from Beginning to end. They have done the right thing. They must review their policy of giving the title to their future publication.
The feature of the Book:
I must say that these people at Hourly History are doing a great job. The only objection to their work is that they are using the term History. It is another thing that the analysis which I have presented above is also a part of the features of the utility of history. History begins when a person finds a need to answer a question in his the present. The best data available to him is the data of past. In case of three titles, that is, Charles Mason, H. H. Holmes and still alive Edmund Kemper, all these people were in the news in 2017. They were in the news due to different reasons which had their origin in the past. Their personas had raised questions which troubled some societies in 2017. Therefore, it grabbed the attention of the publication.
As far the book is concerned, it contains eight chapters. I admire the abilities of the writers of the Hourly History to frame the chapters. When I read their book, I also check the contents of Wikipedia related to the title of the book. I have found that there is no much difference between the information from the two sources. However, both the sources maintain their nature and tones. I have intentionally not used the term 'quality' to qualify my statement. In case of Hourly History, they are more successful in interestingly presenting the topic. The continuity in the content is consistent. The information and facts are joined together judiciously to create a story which ends in one hour and sustain your attention. They had done it more impressively in case of their other title on Rasputin that I will take up in one of the forthcoming posts.
Just a Question: Will the Artificial Intelligence cause to produce people like Herman Webster Mudgett or Charles Mason?
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Friday, February 23, 2018
A review of Dongri to Dubai: Six decades of the Mumbai Mafia by S. Hussain Zaidi.
The First Look at the Book:
This post is a comment on the review of a book by Aditya Menon published in India Today in May 2012. The name of the book in question is "Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia". The book is written by S. Hussain Zaidi.
Aditya Menon has titled the review of this book as "The Don's Story."
Aditya Menon has titled the review of this book as "The Don's Story."
On the title page itself, there is a comment by Anil Kapoor. Hopefully, the name of the person mentioned is that of the film actor from Mumbai. The comment attributed to him states that it was the far best book on the Mumbai mafia. Is Anil Kapoor an authority on the Mumbai mob?
Another comment attributed to one Sanjay Gupta, who probably is the producer states that the film Shootout at Wadala was produced because of the information provided in the book under review. There is no doubt that one you read the first section of the book, you may undergo the feeling as if you are reading a story of a film. The text reads like as movie in a book.
The book was first published in 2012 by Roli Books Pvt limited, New Delhi.
Why did I get this book?
I am a student of History. My area of interest is Indian History. It does not mean that I read only about India. A history student studies the humanity as a whole. A history student does not belong to a particular nation, society, religion and other similar forces working in human society. When I read the history of other regions, I come across many studies which are of the crime and related issues. In case of the history of the USA, one can find many papers on the role of Mafia, the crime pattern and associated legislative debates. In India, you see such topics only in case of the research papers presented in the field of politics, law, public administration, police administration (it is now a separate faculty in many universities) or journalism. Therefore, there was always a feeling that something was missing while reading about the Indian society while reading history as defined by the universities. The general narrative is about the social groups, economic tensions, caste divide, development in legislation and other issues which are built on such conceptual framework that a common man does not recognise them in his daily life. There are such theoretical frameworks that are understood only by academicians. However, there are many topics which are missing from the history of India. On the other hand, if one reads the newspaper or watch television, there are reports and programmes related to crime. One does not find academicians discussing it as the part of the pursuit of the activities of humanity, especially among historians.
I have collected many books on crime and mafia related to the USA. It was a casual search with a search term 'mafia of India' that I came across by the book authored by S. Hussain Zaidi. I bought it on Amazon. I also purchased another title by the same author, and it is Mafia Queens of Mumbai which he had co-authored with Jane Borgs.
A new approach for writing a review
This time I have adopted a new approach to write this review. I am commenting on review by Aditya Menon to write the report of the book.
I am least interested in writing a review. My urge is to write, and I write what I want to write. For me, reading and then writing on what I have learned is an exercise which is similar to taking food and then going to gym to keep my body healthy. To keep my brain healthy, I read and then write. Mere reading does not make your mind healthy. It makes you iller if you do only that part of the act. You must write also. It is a simple rule. You go for input and then give output. Then check and compare it. Now, to make it relevant and make these activities meaningful on a blog, I have borrowed the term 'Review' because the knowledgeable people consider it useful in that manner.
I generally write whatsoever comes to my mind while reading something. Most of the reviews which I have written here are usually a spontaneous outpouring after completing a reading. During reading, I also write some comments on the book. I definitely incorporate them into the post. I write then read it; make some addition and deletions by consulting the notes which I have written and finally look out for spelling and grammar check. However, while writing this post, I did not write many notes. I marked many highlights and comments on the information provided by Zaidi. The book is so gripping that you do not want to stop and pick a pen. You continue to read from one chapter to other if you are not forced to leave it by the exigencies of your existence.
After completing the reading, instead of writing straightaway, I went for a search of the reviews written by people about this book. I had already noted that this book was published in 2012. During reading, or preferably at the closing chapters of the book in the Sections Sources and Acknowledgements, the writer himself had written that he started the work on this work in 2004. He was not sure that about the year itself. He has written that he began to write it in 2004-2005. He declared there that he completed it in 2011. It is quite evident from the Epilogue section in the book that he had finished this book after May 2011. He had also mentioned that the quantity of material which was collected for this book, he would have continued for some more years before he gave the final touch to this book. One can fully appreciate that after reading his book.
I had read this book in about a week. You have to attend to your own work also, therefore, I took that much time. Some reviewers had commented that they completed the reading in three days. Well, the book is such that you can do it or the contents may force you to read it in one sitting to complete the reading of 377 page out of 378. You must read this book from the title to the end to fully appreciate the quality of the work. Out of many reviews, I have selected one review Aditya Menon which appeared in May 2012 in India Today, and the link is https://www.indiatoday.in/india/north/story/dawood-ibrahim-dongri-to-dubai-by-s.-hussain-zaidi-102732-2012-05-20.
As I have already mentioned that this book is spread over 378 pages in Kindle format. The copy which I have used is in the composition of the novel template, and the digital format reads 6677 locations on my computer.
The book is divided into two sections viz. Part 1 and Part 2.
Part 1 contains 35 chapters. The writer has written about the background of the Mumbai Underworld as it developed in post-Independent India. He has started with the life of Haji Mastan, traced his survival and growth, substantiated it with some photographs; while determining the rise and maturity of Karim Lala, Varadarajan Mudaliar and writing the chapter titled 'The Baap of Dons' while tracing the origin of Dawood Ibrahim.
Part 2 contains 28 chapters. The Part 2, is exclusively about Dawood Ibrahim and his minions.
The book closes with four more sections which are titled Epilogue, Sources, Index and Acknowledgements. They are also the inseparable part of the book. If one skips those sections, then he does not know the whole book and can not comment on the book. Here, I believe that Aditya Menon has faulted.
In index section, the book qualifies for the rank of academic work. However, the way it appears in a digital format, it is not correct. Secondly, it has forced me to learn about the best arrangement of an index.
Aditya Menon began with a categorical statement that 'Dawood Ibrahim sells." What did he want to say? Are there more good books on Dawood Ibrahim and Underworld activities in India. It means that I have to learn that how much more had been written about the events of Underworld up to 2012. I do not think that it is being pursued attentively in India.
I have seen that many reviewers make comments which are meant merely to attract the attention of the reader or make there writing sensational. There is no harm in doing that. But if it does not synchronise with the ground realities or it gives a different direction to a narrative in the book or report then it is cheating. I have found it generally a fashion among the people from media world which includes even people from the film industry. I have high regards for the creative activity of Vishal Bhardwaj. He has written a forward to another book of Zaidi. He began with a statement that Crime is more juicier than Spirituality.
Crime is more juicier than Spirituality. What does that mean? What is a type of proposition? What kind of mindset does create such a kind of statement? Does it not suggest the eccentric and unbaked mind? You find a similar sweeping statement in case of Aditya Menon comments.
Aditya Menon had given an opinion that the media world had made the people from Underworld larger than life figure. It is an opinion, but it diverts the attention from the real issue. In the field of history, a good historian will help you to understand that the newspaper, performing arts, film media and for that purpose, all the forms of creative works are a source of providing facts. However, when it comes to the newspaper, they are highly critical of the value of this media as a source of information on the facts. There is a good example concerning the works of Kushwant Singh, a legendary journalist, about the Sikh history. The historians are very critical of his History of Sikhs. It is because, while dealing with facts and reporting it, the media person are not able to detach themselves from the social forces. Merely by adopting the format of writing a work in which you give references, evidence and testimonies, one can claim that his work is of academic nature. There is a need of being critical about the inferences which you drive. You must be concerned by the formulation. If you say that a field of activity is made a person a larger than life icon, then what is the opinion when you call a cricket player a God. Do you not falter in your evaluation? There is every freedom for everyone to use the language as they do. But, when it comes to giving a professional output to the society, then you must be as attentive about the use of the terms and words.
Zaidi had written this book based on the facts which he had collected with great efforts. It earns appreciation. While writing each chapter, he continues to shift from one style of writing to other. A reader may experience it by reading that in one chapter he is reading a script of a movie or a television episode. In another chapter, he may experience that as if he is reading a news report. In another chapter, he will find that as if he is reading an article. The best example is the chapter Making of an Empire, chapter 1 in Part 2. It is an economic report on the rise of Dubai as an international financial centre. Therein, the writer does not talk about Dawood as an icon but Dubai as an icon. But the question arises, that how does Dawood identify the significance of Dubai? Was it his religion or the international economy?
Similarly, Zaidi writes many chapters in which he writes dialogues between two characters as if he is writing a script of a scene. In chapter 25, 26 and 27, in Part 2, the nature of the chapters is entirely different from the rest of the book. They read like a report. Similarly, the chapter 28, titled The Big D makes the Forbes Cut is an euology of a different kind. Can we say that it was the film industry and news media that made him a larger than life figure that helped him to make it to Forbes list? The actual issue is something else. Zaidi has not taken up the question about the methods adopted during the tenure of Julius Reberio. He has not taken up the issue of the role of the politicians. The writer has not taken up the subject of Shiv Sena and Bal Thackrey's editorials in Samana. But, the work which he produced has emphasised the existing gap in the studies which are undertaken by the intellectuals of India and he has done his part of the job. It is definitely a right comment by Aditya Menon to emphasise this point.
Aditya Menon has made the right comments but mixed his with his own opinions. He calls it a seminal work. It is the correct observation and the perfect review of the work. However, he criticised it for a filmy narrative. One can quickly experience it by reading the book to appreciate the observation of Aditya Menon. Yet, we have to give space to Zaidi. It is his mixture of different styles of creating of each chapter, which has given a character to this book. Secondly, if you read his section of Acknowledgement, you will learn that he has to claim any perfection in the field of writing such a work. He has done the right type of work required for this job. He has taken help from many friends to finish this job. Being a journalist, they are already in the work of writing. It seems he knows the shortcomings of his own work. But if he has published it, then he has done it with the confidence in the actual nature of his activity and the book.
I have learnt later that one of his earlier book, 'Black Friday', has been made into a movie. He is definitely writing with multiple motives. He has a right to do that. But, his "filmy style narrative" has earned him a criticism from Aditya Menon.
Aditya Menon has raised some objections against the actual nature of work but pointing it out that Zaidi has not made it a concrete work. Aditya says that he had failed to answer many questions after raising it. There are many more similar issues. While giving references which are from the internet itself, Zaidi has not followed the professional style. In chapter 27, part 2, titled Boucher's Botched Attempt, he had referred to a document based narrative. Zaidi had reproduced the reports of Indian Express and even the stories registered by him in a capacity of a reporter. But, Zaidi has not adopted the professional style of quoting it. When he writes, to quote Aditya, in his dialogue-baazi style, he does a great job. But, when Zaidi writes a serious chapter based on documents, he does not follow the professional style. Zaidi raised issues. But, he does not write the inferences. Zaidi raised the issue of Dongri becoming a crime spot. Zaidi raised the issue of Muslim boys taking to crime. But, Zaidi missed the point about the Gawle or Bada Rajan, his typewriter Chor joining the crime world. He missed the point that Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh migrants became criminals in Mumbai. Zaidi has not tried to take up the issues of those police officers who were wronged by the Patthar wali building. He has praised Ibrahim Kaskar, as the most revered Headconstable for credibility as a professional policeman and Musalman whom even Karim Lala did not dare to oppose, but he missed those issues which were creating the situation to help the crime to flourish.
Aditya Menon has reasoned it out himself that the book of this kind cannot be encyclopaedic in nature. But, there is definitely an imbalance in the treatment of the subject. But, Aditya is too harsh in case of the quality of Epilogue chapter. One can understand that the details of the incident at that time were not available at the time when the book was packed for publication. It is right that Zaidi had tried to create an ambience about which probably did not have any authentic documentary or eyewitness account. But, Aditya is harsh in criticising the work of Zaidi in this case.
On the issue of Pakistan and Dawood role, Aditya has rightly marked out that Zaidi has been able to given an inference which is useful for the government to consider. Aditya has also praised the efforts of Zaidi to give the honour to all those journalists from different languages from whom Zaidi had collected the facts.
Aditya Menon has called his review as 'The Don's Story'. Now the criticism by Aditya Menon of the media that the latter tends to sensationalise some issues can be directed against Aditya Menon for choosing such a title. I was more interested in gathering information about Haji Mastan when I stumbled upon this book. I read it because it was telling about Haji Mastan. Is it a book only about Underworld Dons' or about one particular Don? I read it for knowing the story of Haji Mastan, and I learned about Dawood Ibrahim. Aditya Menon has praised the work of Vikram Chandra who has written forward to this book. Vikram Chandra is all praise for the abilities and calibre of Zaidi. For me, this book has justified my quest for this kind of literature. Therefore, there is all praise for the efforts of Zaidi.
Zaidi himself is an eyewitness to the developments which are the foundation of this book. Zaidi has recorded oral history from the eyewitnesses who would have been lost and then got distorted in future documentation if he had not documented that. Aditya Menon review is the best review of this book. I have read the whole book. I have found Aditya Menon has done an excellent job. Zaidi has performed his job for which he will be remembered.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
The post is a review of the book 'CONFIDENCE: HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS AND ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS' by Martin Meadows. It was an obvious choice as I have collected two books by Martin Meadows which are free of cost. I have already written a post on his earlier 'How to Think Bigger' under the title 'All Free Books are not a Stupid Act or Marketing Gimmick'. I have also collected another free book directly from the author titled 'Grit: How to keep going when you want to give up'. It is in a pdf format. I have not located this book on Amazon portal.
The book contains five chapters and an epilogue. It is spread over 73 pages. One can quickly read this book in less than two hours. The language is smooth and straightforward as it is in case of the earlier book by the same author titled as "How to Think Bigger". There are many references given as endnotes.
The book begins with a chapter on Self-Efficacy. If you have not read or listened about this term, which is probably not in the dictionary which I am using, then you may resolve the issue by accepting that it is the word coined by the author. The second way out is that you replace it with your own preconceived term which is The Self. However, he has not talked about the term Confidence.
The writer has explained the term by giving some features of the Self Efficacy.
While reading the reviews on the book on the Amazon portal, I located a reviewer who has given five stars. He was highly impressed by his summary subsection to each of the chapters. Now, those who have read titles on a similar topic that is Self Help or Self Improvement books, they might have found that this is a standard feature among such writers.
Chapter 2 titled The Experience of Mastery.
This chapter is incomplete. The author has not given the complete list of the steps of suggestions to reduce weight. He may be suggesting a thing. He expects that the reader may visualise it. He provides 5 steps. Then, he wrote the 10th stage. Four levels are missing. Did he forget to write it? Had he left it to write it later but did not remember to complete the list before publishing the book?
I have found an impressive way of telling a thing in his writings. In chapter 2, section on Rejection Therapy, he tries to emphasise a rule of that therapy. He states the first practice. Then in the second rule writes that there are no further rules. This is quite an efficient way to emphasise a point.
However, an issue arises on the topic of Rejection Therapy. It also raises questions about the efficacy and utility of the self-help books. They are suggestions. They may work for you or they may not. The author may be good at writing an essay, but he may not be an expert in a particular field. I raise this question to myself, Why do I read Self Help Books?
Are they really worth the time spend on it?
How far can it be stated with a responsibility that the talks are approved by the scientific fraternity?
Can a Self Help Book replace the work of a qualified psychologist?
Do we have to seek the help of others for doing experiments with the Self to bring changes to it?
Comment on Chapter 4.
I am excluding chapter 3 which is social modelling. For me, the idea is a creation of the writer. I support the argument which the author gives but I am not assured of the choice of the title as Social Modelling. It has forced me to rethink the term 'Social'.
In chapter 4, he has talked on the issue of "Social Persuasion and Psychological Responses". The contents are simple and straightforward. However, with every line, I was reminded about the messages provided by the Vedantists. I was specifically reminded of the writings of Swami Vivekananda. It again brings in the issue of relating everything to research, scientific observations, the issue of the real meaning of being scientific and how far all these things relates to the Self. The self-help books are mainly advice. It may work for you or it may not. You may be receptive or not. In the same chapter, there is a subsection titled "Find a Mentor". Why did he try to say that? Look out for a Guru and some underlying philosophy. Is it not that? That is where this raga of being scientific and research-based claims fail to make the impact. It is the interpretation which matters. The analysis requires some guiding philosophy or a priori. Here, the mumbo jumbo of being scientific and research-based narrative collapses.
However, in this section, the writer comes out with his own solution. Many people will find it a practical suggestion.
“Yeah, the man talks sense.”
I hear this growling sound coming back from past when someone had read his book up to that point.
For me, that is merely a materialistic approach to a life devoid of morality and ethics. I now listen to the disapproving and disparaging sounds. Such responses are equally welcomed, but I write what I wish to write.
In the same chapter 4, he has talked about the psychological responses. Surprisingly, he is not referring to any research-based finding there. He is instead directing the attention of the readers to his other manuals.
In the summary of chapter 4, he gives a different direction to his narrative. He has dealt with the problem of some negative psychological. He has given a very pragmatic solution for that. However, in his summary, he has provided the core point in a manner that some readers may like to have more elaboration on that. I doubt if qualified psychologists will approve his observations on this issue.
The Chapter 5.
The writer gives great importance to this chapter. He has called it the actual and independent part of his book. In other words, he has presented it as the only chapter which is meant to be followed. The preceding sections were merely the build-up to this chapter. This is what he made it out while introducing chapter.
Let me emphasise that in this chapter I have come across a thing about which I did not know earlier. I did not have even a smallest possible glimpse. I believe that there is a reason that in the very opening lines of this chapter, the writer has confidently confined it to his readers that it is the penultimate chapter. Here is the reason.
The Writer introduces the use of the software for mind mapping.
I did not know about it. I explored this software which is registered in Hongkong.
However, it repeats the issue about the most efficacious method to deal with the Self. I believe that the best practice is to deal inside. If you keep on going out for finding solutions, then, it will end up in a vicious circle of seeking a solution outside. You get elated to see it. But soon you get a new problem and get stuck there. You again move out and then seek further. It is actually inside you. Get inside and find a solution there.
I accept I use software to correct my spelling and grammar. But, it is a minor problem. It is small assistance. Gradually, I use such resources only to see alternatives. My actual skills of developing narrative are inside me. Secondly, these outside aids do not have an answer for every related problem. The grammar software will splash instruction to change the style of a sentence from Passive voice to Active voice. It is you who have to decide that if it is required or not. The Grammar Software works on AI. You may not find a narrative as corrected by the Grammar software for your type of an audience. It is your understanding and skill which matters. The outside help can be assistance but not a remedy. For Self improvement, the target is to improve the Self. The outside help is one solution. But, if such answers add up to a horde of assistants, then you become their slave. Go to a barber for a haircut. Got to a tailor for stitching. Go to a dress designer for selection of the dress. Go to the nutritionist for designing your diet plan. Go to Nursery Gardner for raising your garden. Go to the interior designer for arranging your house. Go to yoga expert to learn the right way of breathing. That is no guidance for self-improvement.
The Epilogue is of a general nature. It has the tone of the humility which generally the author display about the utility of their book nurturing a wish that their book will positively be received by some discerning readers and rest of the lot is a bunch of fools.
I may have given some negative remarks. I write what I want to write. Those observations are not about the quality of the content in specific. Those views are about the narrative which is generally found in our day to day talks. In non-fiction literature, we deal with such issues which are of highly significant nature, but we never understand them. However, we develop a narrative without caring to know the direction in which those narratives are carrying us. They are generally directing us to the dead ends. Then, such narratives are mixed with the spice mixture of scientific and research-based talks, and the attempt is made to make sense out of them. I am trying to address that issue. As far as the writer is concerned, he has definitely done a great job. His book will definitely work for many readers.
People like me, who read and then write as per their own whims are influenced by numerous sets of thought sets, theories and philosophies. We evaluate a piece of work from many angles. Therefore, the contents of our review may look like negative criticism. But, they are not adverse criticisms. They are intentional bashing of the material to squeeze more out of it and add a dimension to it. If the core of stream of the logic underlying the comments is touched, then it can be appreciated. However, in simpler terms, one can go through this book. It is not bad to acquire this book when it is free. It contains only 70 pages. It can be read in less than two hours with a little bit of musing where you find this book touching some chord in you or communicating something that is required by you.
Push the Buy Button. It is free. It is worth spending some time on it. At least, I have found it interesting.