A memoir with practical and often powerful inspirational advice.

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GOD REVEALED

REVISIT YOUR PAST TO ENRICH YOUR FUTURE

In this debut memoir, a life insurance executive retires early and focuses his life on family and faith.

Executive-turned–inspirational writer Sievert tells how he went from running the rat race to living a life of grace. He writes that he wasn’t particularly devout as he was growing up, although at age 12 he had a “mystical experience” that led to a close relationship with God. He traces what he sees as God’s influence in his life, including an incident when he suddenly told his father to stop the car before backing out of a driveway; incredibly, a neighborhood toddler was fast asleep behind a rear tire. After marrying, climbing the corporate ladder and becoming president of New York Life Insurance, Sievert left a successful career to attend divinity school and pursue “things that really mattered.” This wasn’t easy for Sievert, a man who got by on minimal sleep and checked his email at 4 a.m. while on vacation. The author writes about how his faith saw through personal crises (infertility, the deaths of his parents) as well as professional ones (project failures, stressful job situations). The book starts slowly, but the stories soon gather momentum. Sievert’s prose is crisp and clear, and his tales about his family are particularly moving. Although he was clearly a power player during his business career, he never comes off as arrogant, instead modestly and honestly relating his faults and struggles. (One story, about how he worked to change tax law, delves a bit too deeply into insurance company workings, but otherwise, the book is free of business jargon.) He also tells about the challenge of raising a son who suffered from depression. “I trust in God’s wisdom and believe our experiences, both joyful and dreadful, have a divine purpose,” Sievert writes. He follows each chapter with exercises for reflection to help those interested in using the book for individual or group study.

A memoir with practical and often powerful inspirational advice.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1614486992

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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