Never in my adult life have I listened (or read) a book that so beautifully blended prose and allegory with hard science and self-help. The synthesis is a unified theory of morality, motivation, love, character, politics, and meaning. I am not normally a person who can easily be moved to tears by a book, much less one that is really centered on discussions of Maslow's hierarchy of needs or countless studies of firing amygdala's.
Brooks has long been a favorite NYT Columnist, sharing a coherent and consistent world view without being either doctrinaire or an us-versus-them blowhard like Limbaugh on the right or Krugman on the left. This book follows two fictional characters, Harold and Erica, from birth, childhood, careers, marriage, retirement, and death, revealing how social connection (or lack thereof) drives most humanistic endeavors. This insight would not be so groundbreaking, but revealing the how and the why through the prism of the beautiful Harold and Erica love story is where Brooks excels.
As if all of this were not enough, the humor propels this book from being just "Really Good" to being "One for the Ages". A sampling:
"He’s just back from China and stopping by for a corporate board meeting on his way to a five-hundred-mile bike-a-thon to support the fight against lactose intolerance. He is asexually handsome, with a little less body fat than Michelangelo’s David. As he crosses his legs, you observe that they are immeasurably long and slender. He doesn’t really have thighs. Each leg is just one elegant calf on top of another. His voice is so calm and measured that he makes Barack Obama sound like Sam Kinison. He met his wife at the Clinton Global Initiative, where they happened to be wearing the same Doctors Without Borders support bracelets"
Buy this book! You will be immeasurably enriched.
Usually, Audible's recommendations for me are spot on. Because I have purchased "Four Hour Work Week", which was a decent enough book, this book was recommended. This was a mistake. Since I only listen to audiobooks while doing something else, I am glad 7 hours of my life weren't wasted. Otherwise, I'd be very angry.
To borrow another reviewer's idea that it's for beginners, is understated. It's actually for suckers, the kind of people who fall for the one-page get-rich-quick websites promising internet riches with no effort. I avoid those like the plague. This audiobook is just the audio equivalent of those sites.
To O'Bryan's credit, he is able to spin a good yarn, and it was enough to make me think that something useful was coming up to the final minute. It never came. Here is the summary:
"Platitude Platitude Platitude. Poorly disguised promo for Joe Vitale. Blather, blather, blather. More Joe Vitale promos."
Clearly, Joe Vitale is behind this audiobook, because the author clearly has some kind of obsession. There is nothing original, and the advice proffered may have worked for some many years ago. Today, there has been such an explosion in e-books and newsletters that all but the most clueless are immune. They are the same people who fall for the late-night infomercial on real estate riches, weight loss, and other pie-in-the-sky promises.
The one bit of advice I would take from the author is to check and see if ANYBODY -- and I mean ANYBODY -- actually makes money from his advice anymore. Insist on proof because I don't think it exists.
I have found authors such as Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss to be much more insightful.
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