I've not read or listened to many auto-biographies before. Tony Blair's is a fascinating account of his as Prime Minister. Being in the US, I don't pretend to know the people or issues in British politics - about all we hear about is the PM and the royal family. That also meant I had little bias about what was said.
It was interesting to see his thought processes throughout. He was convinced of the correctness of bringing New Labor policies into the UK. I suppose that's the one weakness of the book as well: with the exception of Iraq, there's little hindsight on the decisions he made. He pats himself on the back a lot with the assumption of his correctness. All of the ideas seem to be his as well - I can't recall any instance where he credited someone else with an idea that he subsequently took up and ran with. In that respect, the book appears a bit too self-indulgent.
On Iraq, he spends a lot of time justifying his decision - it's probably the most interesting part of the book. Here, he delves into why he thought the UK needed to be involved. He thought the Americans too rash, the Europeans too timid. With all the faults exposed in hindsight, he spends a lot of time discussing how he agonized over the decisions. Again, it was an interesting overview, but I wish he he done that more with other topics. The fact that he didn't makes it seem almost spin-like.
Still, as I said previously, the first-hand account of his develepment and decisions make this a very interesting listen.
We did this book as part of our men's group this spring. It is provocative, to be sure, but it is way too simplistic. Eldredge starts with the premise that modern men are no longer the men God meant us to be - that men have been tamed, and are therefore bored. In his view, there is nothing worse than being a "nice guy". You are either a masculine, warrior-prince, or a whimpering, nice guy with dad-issues.
His rationale is that as boys, we all pretend to be knights, sheriffs and fighters, but that we forget this part of ourselves as we grow up and become bored, office-cubical workers. We forget this because our father (or father-figures) don't teach us to be wild any more. We aren't initiated into manhood by anyone. Fathers that should be teaching us to be hunters and fighters are instead themselves bored and check out. Our "wounds" at their hands have crippled our manhood.
I don't think I've ever heard such utter junk.
There's some good stuff in here, but it's rare. He talks about challenging yourself when you are in a bad place, and being willing to take more risks. That's great advice, but he taints it throughout with his "William Wallace" imagery.
Eldredge is either trying to reach a particular demographic, or his world-view is way too simple. God did not make everyone to be a warrior. There are plenty of mild-mannered heroes in the world. Consider Neil Armstrong. A soft-spoken civilian scientist who is one of a handful of men to venture to the moon. He took the ultimate risk, but was one of the humblest guys you could ever meet.
The best lessons I learned from my "nice guy" dad were not where he wanted to teach me how to hunt, fish or work on cars, but how much honesty, integrity and care of family mattered. The first set of lessons were not what impacted me for my daily life. I never really took to them. What stands out to this day is the latter. When people who used to work with him tell me how much they relied on him and his word in their business - that is what impacted me the most about how to emulate him. Eldredge's nice guy model would dismiss him as a tamed, bored man who seldom took risks. To me, he is the best a man can be.
Being a man is not defined by the battles you fight, but how you face your life. A nice guy is just as capable of facing challenges as the warrrior-prince. It is unfortunate that the author chooses to degrade with simplistic imagery rather than finding a better way to communicate an important message. Instead of relying on boyhood dreams as his model, he would have done well to be mindful of this verse from 1 Corinthians: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."
This book might be best called "Investing 102". He doesn't always explain all of the investment tools very well, but if you have been working with investments for a small bit of time, there won't be too many surprises. He's not into anything fancy, though, he just tries to give good advice on how to limit risk in your investing. Not how to make money, but how to limit risk. He's very clear on why this is important for small investors. It's a book well worth your time if you are just getting to the point where you are wanting to better understand and manipulate your investing strategy.
This is one of the most interesting Christian books I've read in a while. Almost all Christians can tell you the story of the Prodigal Son, and everyone typically identifies with the younger son who has rebelled against the father, but is welcomed home.
What Keller points out, though, is that too many of us also have a lot in common with the elder son. Elder sons try to do everything by the book to gain favor. In our arrogance, we take God for granted. We come to expect God's favor in our life, and become angry when we are shown to be just as fallible as the younger son.
At the end of Chapter One, Keller points out that if churches are only appealing to elder sons, they have lost their way. I think this is the one weakness of the book. It very clearly spells out the need for individuals to become part of a community, but doesn't say much on how communities can improve their reach to younger sons.
That said, it is still a great book that I would encourage people of faith to read - whether church-goers or not.
I was very disappointed that Mitch Daniels decided not to run for President this year, so I was anxious to listen to his book. Overall, he presents his case for confronting the debt very well, however, when he claims at the beginning how threated he feels by the problem, it sounded a bit hollow since he took himself out of the running to actually work on solving the issue.
If you are looking for some tried solutions on how to work on the debt problem, this is a good book to start with. He uses examples from his term as governor to explain his approach to these very situations at a state level, and how they made things work.
The only gripe I had about his book was his constant reference to the US as a democracy. Early on he was very clear on the distinction between democracies and republics and how republics are a release of some rights to allow ruling bodies. He then proceeds to slam the elite ruling bodies as undemocratic. Duh.
Still, overall it was a very good book. We are facing some nasty years ahead without facing some of these issues straight on.
Dave Ramsey's advice is simple - so simple it is apparently mind-boggling to many of the reviewers who attack it. To succeed with money you must spend less than what you bring home. Period. To spend less than you make, you must plan your budget each month and name every dollar. Period. Borrowing money other than for your house is stupid because the interest you pay destroys your ability to build wealth.
Dave tells you like it is. He won't get you rich quick, he won't offer a secret recipe for lifetime fulfillment. He just tells you to get up off your butt and take care of your money with the same passion that you might cheer for your favorite sports team! If you can't handle some straight, in-your-face advice, his book isn't for you. If you are ready to deal with the real problem with your finances - you - he is well worth your time.
I also highly recommend his 13-week class - even more than this book, quite honestly. But if you aren't sure you are ready for his class, the book is a great start.
First off, there is an unabridged version of the book that I wish Audible would have linked to from either the front page or this page. I didn't know that at the time I bought this, or I would have looked for the unabridged.
I enjoyed the recounting of many of his decisions. I don't think his reasoning will surprise many people who keep up with politics, but I do think that a lot of that reasoning tends to fall by the wayside in our 24-hour infotainment media that wants to cover outrage more than news. It's unfortunate that we don't get these types of explanations while a president is in office.
I liked that he owned up to many mistakes (the Katrina handling comes to mind). I also like that he doesn't necessarily pull punches when others screwed up too (the Loiusiana governor taking four days to request the response to be federalized). Some may see it as back-handed attacks, but the simple fact is that the law requires the first response to be from the state, not the feds.
I guess the biggest benefit is hearing what he was doing and when, without the constant sniping of critics trying to reframe his actions to political advantage is very useful. For historians, that's a great gift. Too much of what we know of these events is shaped by the partisan attacks on cable, and not enough on the first person accounts of those involved.
This is a book well worth the time.
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