A shrewd analysis of the real estate market but a lackluster fount of “spiritual intelligence.”




A real estate entrepreneur reflects on the principles of his success.

Debut author Flower grew up in Yonkers in the 1950s, the eldest of four brothers. When he was only 16 years old, his father suddenly died, compelling the author to take over the family’s funeral home despite his youth and lack of any background in the business. The experience was eye-opening, especially when neighborhood thugs squeezed money from his mother, a lesson in the merciless nature of business. In 1962, at 22, Flower decided to go out on his own and bought a cheap car and rented a basement apartment, trying his hand at real estate. His first six months were an abysmal failure: He made less than $60. But he realized that he was held back by his own fears and doubts and that a reconstructed worldview could pave a path to success: “The funny thing is that people say philosophy does not make you money, but I found that not to be true. In fact, my new philosophy was not only what would make me money in the future, but it also gave me substance and character.” By 1964, he was working in his own office, constructing his first building, and taking college courses. Flower eventually built such a sterling reputation that he was asked to teach courses on real estate at Seton College and West Point Academy. The author discusses not only the business strategies that helped him creatively adapt to a volatile real estate market, but also the foundational precepts of achievement in general, what he calls the “spirit of success.” Flower combines three genres—self-help, memoir, and business strategy—into one lucid work written in a self-assured but consistently breezy, congenial prose. His life is a genuinely memorable one, filled with both accomplishments and defeats, and the way he overcame the latter to have a surfeit of the former remains inspiring. In addition, while the book focuses on his professional activities, the author includes a candid account of more intimate challenges as well, including a bout with leukemia that nearly killed him. Still, the highlight of the volume is Flower’s expert discussion of the real estate industry and the numerous transformations it has undergone since the ’60s. His combination of practical experience in many sectors of the business and deep reflection on its historical permutations is sure to be a valuable resource to others getting started in real estate. But the self-help portion of the book largely issues vague and shopworn platitudes. The spirit of success, unsystematically presented, seems to amount to a process of self-reflection whereby fears are reinterpreted as opportunities for growth. When readers encounter a “field of tension,” the outer perimeter of their comfort zones, the author encourages them to press on and overcome the disbelief in oneself that generates hesitancy. Of course, this is inarguably good advice, but that’s largely because it’s so blandly commonplace. 

A shrewd analysis of the real estate market but a lackluster fount of “spiritual intelligence.”

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 197

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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