A WORLD WAITING TO BE BORN

REDISCOVERING CIVILITY

Peck's megahit, The Road Less Traveled (1978), offered cures for the psychospiritual ills of lone men and women; this does the same for human clusterings, large or small. As Peck (A Bed by the Window, 1990, etc.) sees it, society is an unholy mess. The reason? Loss of ``civility,'' defined as ``consciously motivated organizational behavior''—that is, the ability to behave with attention and love toward other human beings. The solution? Certainly not a ``return to Eden,'' which some seek through drugs or alcohol. Rather, the answer is painful evolution into a higher awareness of self and other. Peck speaks despairingly of the ``hole in the mind,'' which is our propensity to act unconsciously in organizations. To teach us how to plug the hole, Peck makes use of systems theory, management training, lessons drawn from his psychiatric practice and personal life, and heavy doses of religious insight. The bottom line here is God and his unconditional love for all human beings. God exalts us; our job is to accept and work with this elevated status. As individuals, this means finding the right job and doing it well. Peck offers useful advice on both accounts (the best way to husband time, he says, is to spend some of it doing nothing—that is, in prayer and meditation). As for organizational life, this begins for many people with marriage. Echoing the realism he sounded in Road, Peck sees the only good reasons for marriage as kids or ``friction,'' i.e., struggle that leads to new life. Business, too, must be rooted in ethics, in which management styles from authoritarian to consensual have a place. In closing, Peck details the work of his Foundation for Community Encouragement, which holds workshops on community-building in businesses and other organizations. A peck of hardheaded, kindhearted advice; the author's best since Road. (First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: March 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-553-09307-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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