Common Sense Is Not All That Common

A touching legacy narrative infused with practical wisdom.

A physician with Lou Gehrig’s disease shares insights to leave behind for his young grandson in this debut advice guide.

Dunsky, a retired allergy specialist diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, believes that “absence of guidance” can be a factor leading to failures in life. He wrote this book as “my way of sharing seventy two years of accumulated knowledge, experiences, and observations,” specifically with his young grandson, Jake, “for the future.” In 36 essay chapters, he covers a host of life topics, including education, marriage, decision-making, health, and money. He offers up many personal anecdotes, including how his “unrealistic impression that I would have no problem being accepted into medical school” in the United States prompted him to apply himself better while attending med school abroad. He emphasizes the value of learning, family, and friends and provides several lists, including questions to ask in order to be a good critical thinker (such as “Have I crosschecked this information with reliable sources?”). He also offers common reasons for making mistakes (highlighting distractions such as smartphones and social media). In his final chapter, Dunsky reflects on his “crushing” and “quite uncommon” diagnosis of ALS, which he says has nevertheless had some positive outcomes, including allowing him to treasure the remainder of his life and create this labor-of-love book. The author provides the kind of wise yet down-to-earth commentary that anyone would wish for in a grandparent. His insights as a physician, hinted at here by his detailing of a few past cases, are worthy of a spinoff book. This book is rather lengthy, however, and at times, highly personal, particularly in the author’s direct addresses to Jake. Still, Dunsky’s reiterations of the “obvious,” such as to treat others honorably and be wary of those who don’t respond in kind, are quite important and indeed inspirational. They underscore the qualities required to lead a happy, successful life.

A touching legacy narrative infused with practical wisdom.

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4973-7383-9

Page Count: 438

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955