Though not without its anecdotal pleasures, much of Hurt’s memoir is serenely uneventful.

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THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

FROM CLOD BUSTER TO CLOUD CHASER

A retired airman reflects on his decorated and varied career.

Growing up in rural Iowa, Hurt lived the typical life of a boy raised on a farm. He helped his father with daily chores, like planting and harvesting crops and caring for livestock—all before heading to school—and was fortunate enough to have industrious, thrifty parents that got by, if not prospered, during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Like most young boys, and especially boys of his generation, Hurt was fascinated with flying, and he longed to become a pilot. After briefly studying aeronautical engineering at Parks Air College, war broke out, and Hurt decided to immediately enlist. Dissuaded by his father, who had just purchased a significant addition to his farm, Hurt agreed to stay home for the summer to help farm the new land. This proved a crucial decision, as Hurt would suffer a severe ear infection that ultimately required surgery, disqualified him from being an air pilot and, somewhat serendipitously, deferred his draft until the war was already over. Upon his recovery, Hurt began several unsuccessful business ventures and decided in 1948 to enlist, hoping for pilot training in the Air Force. After passing subsequent exams and serving in Korea as a transport pilot, Hurt embarked on a lifelong career in aviation that began successfully in the Air Force, then shifted to commercial flight with the Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines. With such a long and varied career, Hurt naturally has some harrowing stories of flight to tell, like the time he was almost sucked out of an open cockpit when his parachute malfunctioned, but most of his tales remind readers that even piloting an airplane can be as tedious as any desk job. Hurt’s passion for flying, however, is endearing, and one cannot help admire the fact that to celebrate his 90th birthday, he plans to sky-dive with his wife and sons.

Though not without its anecdotal pleasures, much of Hurt’s memoir is serenely uneventful. 

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481181242

Page Count: 164

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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