An appealingly meat-and-potatoes mind-body strategy guide.



Maher offers a program for physical and spiritual healing in this debut motivational work. 

The author became a Navy SEAL at the age of 22, and for seven years, he says, he was in peak physical condition: “I was at a sleek 1.8 percent body fat and could run three miles in under fifteen minutes,” he recalls, and he goes on to claim that “I could outperform professional athletes. Pound for pound, I was one of the strongest people on the planet.” Even so, he’ll be the first to tell you how he was also unhealthy due to a condition that he terms “strauma,” which often affects longtime athletes and fitness buffs; Maher defines it as the combined toll that the stress and trauma of exercise take on the human body. “Strauma” manifests as physical pain, he says, but also as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and a host of other maladies. This book describes the regimen that Maher designed to combat it, which he calls “True Body Intelligence.” It promises a life that’s free from stress, trauma, pain, and even delusion. After a brief account of his early life—which included abuse by a babysitter and other challenges—and his discovery of alternative medicine following a car accident at the age of 32, Maher details the theories and practices that make up “True Body Intelligence.” These generally build on concepts from the world of holistic medicine, although the author offers a more regimented, tough-love twist on them: “I’m not here to be liked,” he writes in the prologue. “What I care about is that you get the sobering truth that no one gave me.” Overall, his promises seem improbably rosy. However, Maher’s focus on the physical effects of trauma results in valuable insights, and his SEAL pedigree may help get his message to reach readers who don’t normally consider their own mental health. As with other works of motivational literature, this book repackages and reorders familiar self-help ideas, but the author’s direct and often pragmatic approach to them may appeal to those who find gauzier holistic guides unconvincing.

An appealingly meat-and-potatoes mind-body strategy guide.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5445-0518-3

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2019

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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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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