A typical memoir of personal healing that addresses an atypical kind of trauma.

WONDER AND BEAUTY

MY JOURNEY FROM HEARTBREAK TO HEALING THROUGH THE WONDER OF HORSES

A reflective account of finding purpose in pain and recovering from a special kind of heartache.

In this debut memoir, Miller begins her story four years after the traumatic experience of losing her only son after a very tiring legal custody battle. She says that she was forced to rediscover her identity and begin her life anew, so she underwent a variety of therapies as she worked to overcome feelings of loss, guilt, and fear. Despite its subtitle, the book covers the topic of equine therapy in just a few pages; in this section, Miller details a few therapeutic experiences she had with horses, as well as general lessons of inspiration she gleaned from their loving natures and simple lifestyles. The remainder of the book discusses her other methods of healing, such as reading and viewing inspiring books and films, reaching out to her son via her blog, traveling to New Mexico for a personal retreat and support group, and participating in yoga. She also says that she listened to the spirit within her that told her to never give up, as well as to what she interpreted as “messages, dreams, and whispers of thoughts” from her son. Miller’s tone throughout this memoir is sincere, and the text flows easily as she coherently expresses her ideas. The uniqueness of her ordeal of “parental alienation” gives this book a slight edge over other personal-healing memoirs, although avid readers of the genre may find little that’s new or different here. Also, Miller doesn’t provide many concrete details about the custody battle itself; although they might have been difficult to include, due to their personal nature, they might have shed significant light on her situation, built trust with readers, and added depth and clarity to her accounts of healing. That said, this story could inspire other readers to undergo necessary work toward recovery.

A typical memoir of personal healing that addresses an atypical kind of trauma.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6176-7

Page Count: 132

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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