A series of short, optimistic pep talks with a collective message: We can all get along.
Nepo (The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be, 2013, etc.), a familiar figure on Oprah, has written more than 20 books and also offers audio recordings and even wall calendars. In his latest book, the author’s style emerges quickly: a lesson about cooperation and some support from historical and cross-cultural (and even cross-species) events. At the end of each major division of the text are suggestions for eager readers who might want to get together to discuss the material in even more detail. Readers on the right will not like to discover that he thinks Barack Obama was a great president and that too many Americans have too many guns. However, Nepo does not condemn those who disagree with his positions; rather, he endeavors to inspire them to change their ways. Another feature of his text is a tendency to cherry-pick among the facts. He writes with admiration, for example, about the behavior of honeybees and other critters, neglecting to mention that they are hard-wired to behave as they do and are not cooperating out of empathy and conscience. Cliché also saturates the book: We need, he says, to “seed and prune the garden of our soul” and to keep “the heart soft and open.” This sort of sugar sweetens many of his sentences to tooth-decaying levels. Nepo also populates the narrative with historical, cultural, and religious figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; on the darker side, he reminds us of Nagasaki, the Nazis, and other horrors of human history. He also scours cultural history for positive examples—e.g., ancient peoples, Native Americans, and residents of the Warsaw ghetto.
Readers feeling a need for an inspirational kick in the pants will enjoy this book; others should take a pass.