A clearly written and wide-ranging collection of lessons on becoming a more cheerful, centered, and successful person.



An inspirational manual aims to help readers through life’s difficulties.

In one form or another, Blalock’s nonfiction debut repeatedly asks readers the same question: “What are your solutions for sanity in a world of chaos and complexity?” In these pages, the author distills the lessons of a lifetime in business into his own answers to that question, delivered in bite-sized chapters that keep the book’s tempo swift. Chapter subjects range across a broad spectrum of issues, and the tips are supplied with a minimum of fuss or flourish. Readers are instructed on the value of mindful eating, on healthy ways of dealing with disappointment, on the importance of compromise, on methods of critical thinking, on the role of willpower in long-term planning, on the ability to know when to relinquish a stubborn but pointless hope (“Giving up hope is sometimes prudent in situations where your attention elsewhere is necessary to reach your goals in life” is a typical elaboration), and many other topics. The theme running through all of this lucid material and connecting it is the author’s insistence that being personally and spiritually grounded is the key to both happiness and success. The guide’s encouraging tone derives in large part from Blalock’s optimistic belief that the power to achieve that foundation rests in the hands of each person—this is a self-help book that places a refreshing emphasis on the “self” part. The writing often relies on clichéd thinking—embrace the moment, every day is a new day, change is constant, etc.—and many of the instructions in these brief chapters, however valuable, are truisms that scarcely bear repeating (things like “be kind,” “be honorable,” “be productive,” “be positive”). But the upbeat tone and positive self-improvement advice will make the manual a shot in the arm for despondent or distracted readers.

A clearly written and wide-ranging collection of lessons on becoming a more cheerful, centered, and successful person.

Pub Date: April 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4575-6364-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2020

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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