Fifty Americans Share Lessons in Living
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 A collection of inspirational correspondence from parents, grandparents, mentors, and friends aimed at guiding a younger generation along the road to fulfillment. These letters were solicited from a cross-section of Americans by U.S. News and World Report under the guidance of editor Goode. The writers represent Americans of virtually all classes and economic stations, from waitress and mechanic to doctor, lawyer, and entrepreneur. Notably absent are the very rich, the very poor, and the very celebrated. Journalists Cokie Roberts and her husband, Steven, an editor at U.S. News, who provide an introduction and a chapter on interfaith marriage (he is Jewish; she, Catholic), are about as high-visibility as the contributors get. But that, of course, is the point. Here are ``real people,'' middle Americans expressing their hopes and dreams and passing on what they've learned to the children in their lives. Despite the regional, ethnic, and occupational diversity among the letter writers, there is a somewhat surprising continuity of messages: Be kind, be honest, be true to yourself. Says an eloquent midwife from Oregon to her two children: ``Embrace all parts of yourself . . . [even] the `dark' parts of your soul.'' And the waitress from Missouri to her teenager: ``Having a job like mine helps you become a better person.'' An Austrian Jew who escaped from Hitler extols the goodness of his fellow man while Ralph Reed, the director of the Christian Coalition, praises God. Myrlie Evers Williams, widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, tells her grandson: ``You won't get very far if you blame other people.'' Accumulating money is rarely a touchstone, except in connection with honest work and providing for family. So much for acquisitive, competitive America. Upbeat, positive messages suggesting that the similarities in Americans' lives outweigh the differences--perfect for an election year. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-45011-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996