A scholarly self-help book with sage guidance and real-life examples of “cooperative wisdom” in action.



Scherer (co-author: Two Paths Toward Peace, 1991, etc.) and Jabs (The Heirloom Gardener, 1984, etc.) offer an erudite yet accessible guide to managing destabilized environments at home or out in the world.

The authors note that keeping family and friends safe from harm was easier to manage in ancient times, when most lived in clans of about 120 people. Even today, they say, social scientists set 120 as the maximum number of friends in a group that can provide mutual support to one another. By comparison, our contemporary social networks are vast, and, according to this book, the risk of doing unintentional harm to others is immense, whether one is running a parent-teacher association or a multinational corporation. To navigate our complicated world, Scherer, a professor emeritus in the philosophy department of Bowling Green State University, offers the principle of “cooperative wisdom,” a skill which may be learned, he says, by practicing five virtues: “proactive compassion,” which “attunes us to [others’] vulnerability”; “deep discernment,” which, in part, “deepens our grasp on what matters”; “intentional imagination,” which “reconceives what is possible”; “inclusive integrity,” which aims to “ensure that benefits and respect are mutual”; and “creative courage,” which allows people to “willingly incur the risks” of change. He and his co-author and former student Jabs guide readers through these and their accompanying practices. The book grew out of lecture notes that Scherer prepared for a graduate-level seminar, and this genesis occasionally peeks through in statements such as “Specialists become comfortable with and even attached to particular ways of doing things, and they may be reluctant to modify, much less abandon, specialized knowledge.” The otherwise conversational style, reminiscent of that of Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell in the 1988 PBS series and subsequent book The Power of Myth, adds friendliness to a serious topic. Jabs’ interjections are in hard-to-read italics, but for the most part, Scherer’s words are empathetic, compelling, and frequently pithy, as when he refers to the practices for each virtue as “exercises…that expand our moral range of motion.”

A scholarly self-help book with sage guidance and real-life examples of “cooperative wisdom” in action.

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9971668-1-1

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Green Wave Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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