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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Prince Felix Yusupov by Christopher Dobson

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 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.

I quote.

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.

The Book

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

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

H. H. Holmes – The Life of The American Ripper by Hourly History

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

Commenting on a Review for developing a review: An Attempt

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."

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

The book:

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.

Concluding Remarks:
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.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

All Free Books are not a Stupid Act or Marketing Gimmick

The post is a review of the book titled, "How to Think Bigger: Aim Higher, Get More Motivated and Accomplish Big Things" by Martin Meadows.

The very title is quite long. It contains 13 words and 78 characters. However, total pages as per the Amazon counts are merely 106 pages and 1031 locations. It includes seven chapters and an Appendix. A list of books for further reading is included there. It is free and ready for download.

There is a need for, to begin with, a comment on the title of this post itself and the idea of getting this book.

There are numerous books which are available free of cost not only on Amazon but elsewhere also. It is not a researched based conclusion but an experiential observation that such offers are just a Marketing Gimmick. The marketing people are making use of indie-publishing paradigm as a part of the craft of their profession. It is even taught in business schools to write brochure in the form of books or comics to introduce your product and then present it as a book. The booklet is also advertised to promote the selling. The game plan is to tell the world that the book which is a brochure, is free, free and free. A greedy person like me will collect it. If you are sincere and posses my kind of psyche, you may also obtain such free things. Now, if you happen to read the contents, you learn that it was an advertisement for some product. The task of the advertiser was to apprise you of his product, and he had achieved his job if you had fallen into the trap.

I had fallen for such a bait on many occasions. The title was simple. The name of the title attracted me. It was free of cost. I pushed the "Buy It" button and the rest followed.

I have collected this title in the manner stated above. Now, it was not the only title which I had obtained. There are a good number of titles which I have collected. I receive such titles from Hourly History series. I have written about some of their books on this blog. I have read a large number of their other titles. However, I have not written posts on all those books which I have gone through that I have received from Hourly History publication. I am not suggesting that Hourly History series is also a gimmick. I will emphasise that the actual import of the title of the present post in their support. I mean to say that every free book is not a marketing gimmick. I repeat that all free books are not stupid acts. The Hourly History series is doing a good job. I will come out with more posts on their titles. On the other hand, I have found some such free books as a mere gimmick or Stupid Act.

I may be a greedy person. I do not feel shy to accept it. However, I am a reader also. I read. It is next to breathing for me. If I do not read, I feel suffocated. Therefore, I read. I write also. I write with fountain pens. If I write on the computer, I blog. However, many registers are piling up with me which contain all the pages blackened with black Parker Ink written with Parker, Hero (Chinese) and Elegante Camlin. Some of the pages are also in gel and ballpoint blue ink. Whenever I read, I write too. Now in case of this title, I did not pick my fountain pen. I came to the computer and wrote this post.

I must say that the author is sincere. He wrote about what he had experienced. He is not someone like Napoleon Hill or Dale Carnegie or Joseph Murphy or even Swami Vivekananda or Devadutta Patanik asking you to follow some Christian or Vedanta ethics. He seeks references from research-based observations of psychologists, sports trainers and contemporary corporate winners like Jeff Bezos (I am not advertising for Amazon), Richard Branson, Elon Musk and many such celebrities. He refers to his experiential observations. No doubt it is his ultra selling point that he stands as an example of the efficacy of the methods which he propounds. No doubt he also advertises about his writings. He tells about his other books. He has made some of his titles available free of cost, and now I will read his title 'Confidence: How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Goals'. The book is also available free of cost, and it is already in my collection. I hope that I may not change my view after reading his second title. I may buy some of his other titles by paying the cost of the title. If these two free books are his marketing gimmick, then he is a success.

He writes well. His narration is smooth. He does not use intricate terms or flowery language or difficult technical terms in his pursuit to get references from scientific research.

One of the statements made by the author about the ways to improve your Self is to give importance to reading. It is the most responsible statement of the author which is a practical and result oriented (Kindly do not ask the evidence of any research here. Continue to read, and you will get the answer). I do not know about the views of psychologist and neuropsychologist. However, this is something which anyone can verify on his own. It is an experiment which one can perform on his own and learn the benefits. However, in this world of Whats-app, Facebook, Instagram and other social media, (kindly exclude blogging out of it as it turns up as an archaic activity), the humanity is denying itself one of the most straightforward exercises and the methods of self-improvement.

His book is also a teaser for me. He has published this e-book on Amazon. He has used endnotes which works immaculately. I am of the impression that the footnotes or endnotes do not work while formatting on Kindle Direct Publishing. However, in this book, there is a good demonstration of this feature. It means that I have yet to learn about formatting a manuscript on KDP. I believe that the problem exists in the use of the word processor software. I use OO, and most of the writer use MS Word. In short, the success of the feature of the endnotes suggests that I do not fully understand the use of word processor and formatting of an e-book.

It is a continuation of above paragraph. The writer has used a simple title. It is not gaudy or flashy. I differ on this issue with some of the authors and publishers. In case of Fiction genre, there is too much stress on this feature. You can grab the attention by a flashy title, but if the content is not worth the salt, then you are in the business of cheating.

However, there are some irritants also. Who is "Martin Meadows"? It is a pen name of an author as per his claim in the book. Even on the author page of Amazon portable, he or she has not written anything more than that. He has not shown any photograph of self. He talks about his achievements, but he does not introduce himself. That is not fair Martin Meadows.

The second irritant is that he keeps on referring to other titles authored by him to elaborate his point and expect the reader to read them for further clarification. He has mentioned titles authored by some established authors. He has even suggested a list of titles. He has done it in the form of an essay termed as Appendix A. The fascinating thing is that the writer has not found the urge or need of claiming evidence in its favour based on research.

The use of the phrase that "The research I conducted" is a norm, a fad and the buzz words presently. In India, even a Yogi, covering his torso with saffron coloured sheets, is making claims that he has researched for 25 years on the herbs and produced a pill for Blood Pressure or discovered a formulation of toothpaste or face cream to look white like a European or American research institute demonstrates that mineral oils are not safe in hair oils, therefore, his herbal hair oil is research approved because it does not contain mineral oil. I accept the value of research. However, I hate it because everyone uses it without actually understanding the meaning of research. A research claim without pondering, without contemplating, without thinking, and merely using ratios, the sum of the total, beta charts, technical charts, mean, median and mode is not research. Every data procured from experiment preceded by the right type of questioning on the issue in hand demands an interpretation. You say everything with some responsibility. It has to be researched. You write and claim with responsibility. However, why is this insistence of repeating every time that whatever is being said is based on research? I hate the day when a poet will say; I have researched and written this poem. What will happen if tomorrow a research paper says that Cambridge University has proved that Oxford University has produced more politicians and a lesser number of Nobel Prize winners?

Further, it is my observation, that all such Self Help and Self Improvement Books are personal statements of each author. If a book has become popular, then it is because of the writing skills of the author. If you face some problem with the Self, then one of the ways is to seek the help of a psychologist. The second method is to meet your self on your own. Accept your self. Then do experiments with it. You may seek clues and advice, but ultimately you have to deal with it on your own. Your methods may not work for others. At the most, it may divert the attention of a reader for a time. However, if one faces a problem with Self, then remember, the Self is with you and in you. You are the master and the director. You learn cycling on your own. No manual can teach you cycling. It is your body, your muscles, your self. If there is some physical problem, then consult a doctor. However, kindly keep your Self in your ownership. Accept it and deal with it.

A Parting Message:

This book is also an advertisement. It will ask you to download the next free book. You click the link. You will receive the instruction to register by providing your email. You will get a confirmation email which includes the catalogue of his books. It will ask to buy one of his books. It is a quite deal. But my question remains. Who is this Martin Meadow from Portland, Oregon, USA?

Attention Please: It is an Advertisement. It includes the books of Martin Meadows which are free.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Free Classic Novels of Munshi Premchand (HINDI)

Do me a favour by visiting the author page on Amazon HERE -AUTHOR AMAZON PAGE.

The Classic works are forever.

Well, I would have played with a line of John Keats and say that the classic works are a joy forever.

In this post, I have collected the thumbnails on the Kindle Store to the classic novels of Munshi Premchand which can be read on Kindle free software for PC, Android and Apple. They are all free of cost or for ₹ 0/-.

It is not that they are the only classic books which are available free of cost. There are numerous such books. However, there is a need to write this post exclusively in the name of Shri Dhanpat Rai or Munshi Premchand as he was popularly known. Those who follow my blog, they may have observed that I narrate an anecdote with each post. Here also, I have an anecdote to narrate which I use as a reason to select only the novels of Munshi Premchand. I am sure that it will interest those who are interested in reading Hindi literature and writing blogs.

It was way back in 2005 when I started to blog. Every blog writer desires that his posts become popular and his blog gets regular visitors. I do not have any professional training like that of SEOs to accomplish such a task. I have learned through hit and trial. In those days, the Blogger site allowed and it still allows, to insert the codes of site meter reading devices. I opted for sitemeter. Now, this URL takes you to some different site. Anyhow, coming back to my story, the site meter provided some data about the visitors to your site. Gradually I learned that some visitors to my site had used the search term "premchand". I started searching for this term. I learned that the C-DAC, the department of the Government of India in those days had displayed a huge collection of Indian literature. But when I accessed that site, I was not able to collect anything from there which I could read with my scant knowledge of computers and software. You were expected to learn the whole engineering to make use of those resources. It is one of the shortcomings of the resources provided by the Government of India that they are not intuitive in nature. Well, remaining on my story, I was able to locate a site by one Raman Kaul. He was probably a computer professional. He had converted all the contents of the government site into UTF-8 and displayed it on his site. I gave a link to his site on my blog at SUMIR-HISTORY. Then, a miracle happened. Suddenly, the visit to my blog increased. I had done nothing. I had just given a link to the site of Raman Kaul which is still alive at  Munshi Premchand's Stories. The visitors posted comments in my praise. The search engines upgraded my site. The term 'Munshi Premchand Ki Kahaniya' was a wonder term. It is from there I learned that there is a huge readership still seeking his works.

Now, being a regular explorer of the Kindle store and also interested in watching my own title that I had written, I observed and located a large number of classic titles which were available free of cost. From there, I have intentionally collected the works of Munshi Premchand to write this post with the reason which I have already narrated as an anecdote. I will definitely write another post of a similar kind wherein I will act as a curator to some good literature, especially in the non-fiction category. Here is the collection. It is all in HINDI.

Do me a favour by visiting the author page on Amazon HERE -AUTHOR AMAZON PAGE.