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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Revisited Hourly History and Read Subhash Chandra Bose

I had stopped downloading the free books from Hourly History for some time by now.

The Hourly History publishes two titles every week and makes it available free for two days. Every Friday, the subscribers get an email on the fresh arrivals. In addition to fresh new titles, some other titles are also made free. The audiobooks of many titles are also provided free of cost.

It was nearly two years back that I subscribed to their newsletter. I downloaded free books regularly for some time. I even wrote reviews on those books on my blog. In the case of two or three titles, I also posted a comment on the book product page on Amazon.

Gradually, I became disinterested in their titles. From the very beginning, I was critical of their content. I hold the same objections even now.

I gradually got disinterested because, in some of the emails, I did not get an offer of any new title as I had already downloaded many of them. There were some repeat offers.

Another cause of disinterest was that I was not able to appreciate the contents of some of the titles. The titles are generally biographies or trends in the history of a country. The main thing is that if you know something about a personality or an event, the reading of the title helps you to remember about the personality or the event. If your knowledge is more than what the writer of the title was able to tell, then you do not appreciate the content.

I have read many of their titles. I have posted reviews on some of the titles. But all the titles were not of much interest to me as I did not find the content adding to my information or understanding.

In spite of disinterest which I had gradually developed, I was impressed by their ability to frame the chapters. That had kept my interest alive in their publication and downloaded many of their titles. I read their titles but did not post any review on my blog or commented on their product page on Amazon.

On the whole, I was amused by the idea of Hourly feature of the series. Each book is generally spread over 40 to 50 pages. You can easily read them in one hour. On the whole, they are small pamphlets which are called books. The idea of smallness did not attract. Somewhere, it went against my perception of a good book. The counting of pages and words for me can never be the standard of judging the level of a book. The content should be written with responsibility. The language should be lucid. The author should be allowed to demonstrate his skill with words to express an idea. He may be brief in writing an opinion. He may be entitled to spend wordy fire to exhibit his art. But to restrict something to the few numbers of pages did not attract me. Gradually l learned that it was not only they who were doing that. Even Oxford University Press was indulging in such a type of product in the Short Introduction Series. I appreciate the brevity of expression, but the limit of pages or time for finishing a reading did not attract me as a standard of quality.

Recently when I received the email from the Hourly History, I clicked it open. I found that the structure of the body of the email has changed. There was a link to a website. On visiting the website, I found that it was more elaborative and informative about the Hourly History activity. The link to the website is given below.

It is prominently written at the website that the Hourly History is about the “Concise history books that you can read in one hour”. It is their USP.

One can learn from the details provided on the website that the Hourly History has published 229 as on February 8, 2020. It further tells that the Hourly History works with authors from all over the world. That is quite revealing. They do not tell the name of the authors. They claim that the author is Hourly History. But now they have accepted that they are more than one person. It is discernible to a critical reader from the narrations in different books. It is not the work of a single person. 

It is one of my other objections that they call themselves as writers of History, but they do not follow some of the basic norms of history. They do not reveal the source of their information. They give full play to the creative writing norms, but that is not meant for the history writing and literature. No doubt, History is also literature. A history book has to be written in a way that it gives an interpretation and observation. They perform that task. But it cannot be called history. They are just telling stories and using the term History for their accounts. 

On their website, the Hourly History has openly revealed that it is working from Ireland. Earlier it was not prominently shown in their emails. One could have learned about the place of origin only after minute scrutiny of the body of the email. Now, it is open that it is operating from Dublin, Ireland.

After a long time, I have downloaded another book from the email list.

I acquired the book titled "Subhas Chandra Bose: A Life From Beginning to End".

One can go through the preview from the embed review given below.

Another thing fascinates me that the Hourly History produces many titles which are specific to Indian History. Most of their titles are on European History, American History and the Middle East History. It seems that there is a writer on their panel who has good knowledge of Indian History.

The Hourly History has spelt the name of Netaji as Subhas. Being an Indian, I may spell it as Subash. I am not sure how would a Bengal native would pronounce his name.

There are eleven chapters in the book. The whole book is completed in 37 print pages. Does it fascinate any reader?

In 37 pages, the writer has brought out an image of Netaji. Many readers would not like to appreciate the version and picture which the essays depict. The writer has taken up the issue of the political conflict between Gandhiji and Subash. The author has also touched upon the personal life of Netaji. The childhood of Netaji has also been given a peculiar touch within the background of Bengali milieu.

A comment by the writer fascinated me, which he made about the correspondence which took place between Subash Chandra and his father. The writer found the contents of the letter as highly explosive, and he expressed astonishment that it did not attract the attention of the colonial government who had the policy of screening such literature and letter. Well, the writer has given his version.

The writer has used imagination to narrate the episode of the death of Subash Chandra in the air crash. Where did he found the description of his death? The author has not revealed that. It is another feature of the Hourly History books that in case of some titles, the writers demonstrate their imaginative skill at their best. A similar example can be suggested by mentioning the title on Rasputin. Some of their writers are probably good novelist or screenplay writers. It is my view.