A memoir of one man’s conscientious efforts to make the world a better place.
Kay’s background includes a series of successes in a variety of areas. He’s been an interpreter during World War II, a graduate student, scientist, innovator, business man, charitable donor, activist, public-interest pollster–and the list goes on as he enters his ninth decade. The author has devoted much time and money to the passionate pursuit of world peace. When not marching in rallies against nuclear proliferation, he was traveling to Russia to meet with people at the highest levels of government, including Gorbachev, in an effort to promote peaceful resolutions to the Cold War. Kay is at his best when he displays his dry wit and willingness to laugh at his younger self. His stories about his many careers are intriguing, and certainly many readers will find his desire to snuff out the potential for nuclear war admirable, but the writing lacks inspiration. The text is often bogged down in tedious detail unnecessary to the main thrust of the author’s story. For example, his attitude toward sports and professional teams is not a vital addition to the book, nor is his anecdote about who first donated money to the nuclear-freeze movement. Kay occasionally slips out of memoir mode and indulges in detailed explanations on concepts he studied and developed as a scientist. These chapters might be of interest to readers who are technically inclined, but are likely to deter others. The final chapter is the strongest–Kay draws parallels between the biological world and the social world, suggesting that humans might learn symbiosis and survival from plants, cells and the human body.
An awkward attempt to funnel a full, entertaining life into an educational reading.