In my opinion, this book was mostly just platitudes... so
I finished this book about a month ago, and in writing this "from memory", I'm getting some interesting insight into this whole phenomenon of storytelling.
I think the most noticeable thing is now "tight" the story is, words are not wasted in creating a vibrant picture of both what's going on, and the undercurrents beneath it.
I'd call this a love story.
And a war story.
And a human story.
Good stuff. I suppose that's why writers often cite Hemingway as an example of a master of the craft of writing.
I listened to this on the way to and from work.
I have a pretty long driveway, and most days I would magically get from the middle of my driveway to work without knowing how I got there. The book would suck me in so quickly I didn't even remember turning onto the street.
I wonder if the movie did the book justice?
I will admit up front that my review comes from MY perspective.
I am a Zen Buddhist, but I grew up going to Christian church. From my current viewpoint I find a lot of the focus of Christianity to be judgmental and narrow minded.
But I'm also interested in "reconciling" my viewpoint with that of Christianity where possible, of finding common ground, both with the faith, and with Christians. As such, I'm open to find Christian thinkers who advocate for open minded dialog, and ecumenical leanings.
From the reviews, I thought this book would be such an opening. From the reviews, it came across as a fresh perspective, and breaking some kind of ground.
But after listening to about an hour, it really just talks in circles, and doesn't say much of anything. All I heard was blah blah blah. Maybe I needed to keep listening, and the good stuff was at the end, but I couldn't get that far.
To be fair, I must say my "poor" review is mostly due to my disagreement with the approach. Mr. Seligman basically does a quick tour of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy... with the key being to "dispute" negative thoughts in your mind with more realistic ones... and since our negative thoughts are usually more negative than "truth", therefore, we become more positive.
But as that plays out... this is just training people to "rationalize more positively"... but it's still rationalization.
For many of us weighed down by our thoughts... the tendency was installed by well-meaning parents... and we already have an ongoing dialog in our heads between the angel and devil on the respective shoulders. This book basically says it's okay for the angel to stand up to the devil, and for us to believe the angel more and brush aside the devil more. Well... we already do that to some degree... but maybe it "works" for some people to take it farther.
For me, personally... I studied Zen for several years and "kinda got it"... then read this book - it didn't make much of an impression on me... then I attended an intensive Zen seminar... then read this book again... the second time through, I could see that encouraging one facet of the ego to dominate another facet of the ego may appear to "work"... but it's better to step back from ALL our thoughts and see that most of them are fluff and distortion. At least then we can laugh about it based on what's REALLY funny. Life. : )
If you want a quick introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy... which studies have shown to be "effective"... you'll probably like this.
I can see why this is a classic, one of the most consistent favorites across all time and place. The characters are very human... and in them, we see the flaws and strengths of ourselves and those around us... the highs... and the lows...
A good story, definitely should be on (almost) everybody's list.
This is targeted at a young audience... and like everything targeted at young people, it is very politically correct, and wooden, and one-sided. God forbid young minds be exposed to "just the story".
With that said... it's worth six dollars and the time spent to gain a little history and perspective if you're on a budget. If you're expecting a read with deep insight and gritty details, this isn't the book for you... this is just the basics, dumbed down and moralized down for grade-schoolers.
I'm getting sick of the dysfunction of our government and public discourse... have been forming an idea of what's at the root of it for a while... and this book does a great job of digging down deeper and putting some science and philosophy around it.
Can't just say I wish all politicians read this... they should LIVE it. But they won't live it unless the people who elect them live it too.
75% of Americans wouldn't have the seriousness of mind to get through this... which is part of the problem... but if the other 25% reads this or something like it, it might be enough ;-)
If we want to understand how America became America... then we need an accurate picture of how BOTH Hamilton and Jefferson contributed to our current system... and contributed to our current beliefs about America and Americans...
Most of history and what we've "taken" from Hamilton and Jefferson overlooks some of the flaws in Jefferson's worldview... and assigns a few extra undeserved flaws to Hamilton's worldview... the funny thing is that even today, it is popular for BOTH Democrats and Republicans to build up Jefferson and claim his views as their own... and for BOTH Democrats and Republicans to vilify Hamilton and say we'd have been a better country without him. Jefferson and Hamilton become cardboard cutouts of a good guy and a bad guy. And BOTH of those tendencies are whitewashing the REAL truth... and the real puzzle of how America became America. The funny thing is that we (Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between...) have a good chunk of BOTH Jefferson and Hamilton in our national DNA... a big chunk of the good of both... and a not un-noticeable chunk of the bad of both. And if we had a better perspective on how this 220 year old battle is STILL playing out... our congress wouldn't behave so much like idiots... and WE wouldn't feed that idiocy like we do.
This book swings a little bit the other way... but in doing so, it DOES help paint a much more HUMAN picture of Hamilton... and... confirms how vitally important he was to what our country is today, and has been since the beginning. He had as much impact as the top three Presidents... meaning more impact than forty-something Presidents... I've known that for a while... so it was nice to finally associate all that with a real flesh and blood person, and in a way, a very AMERICAN story.
The narrator... okay... but sometimes his "tone of voice" seems a little... I don't know, can't find the right word... maybe he doesn't like history?... the only emotion he inserts is a little too much sarcasm and mocking in places that it doesn't really fit. But the story is well enough written that it doesn't really distract much.
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