An airline pilot turned author embarks on heavy introspection, interviews friends, acquaintances and strangers, then discusses the life lessons learned.
Green's strategy begins with standard open-ended interview questions (reprinted on the back cover), e.g., "If you could go back in time and tell/warn/give advice to yourself, what would you say?" More specific questions deal with parents, grandparents, siblings, children, marriage, lovers who got away, friends, high-school and college memories, career choice, the importance of money and on and on. The anecdotal responses that form the narrative structure are then presented in similar categories. Green also shares some of his own answers and periodically injects his opinions regarding the responses of others. The stories would carry more meaning, however, if he revealed more about the personal lives of the respondents. Despite legitimate privacy concerns, the brief thumbnail descriptions (typical identification: "Chris, small business owner, 40") are often too scanty to effectively evaluate the personal successes and failures--not to mention the fact that they might be invented. Another shortcoming is Green's failure to grapple in a thoughtful way with the biases inherent in his interviewee selection process--he apparently made little effort to reach a representative sample. Despite these quibbles, however, the cumulative impact of the book is positive. Gems of folk wisdom combine well with insights from obviously learned interviewees. The careers section, for example, contains useful anecdotes about following personal passions to start businesses that bring contentment--and sometimes wealth.
Haphazardly organized but grounded in good intentions, and offering occasionally valuable down-to-earth insights that could improve daily living.