Humorous anecdotes and advice are offered as tools to resist food, drugs, alcohol and/or gambling in this debut self-help guide.
For Ward, to avoid or kick addiction, consider lightening up. “It has been said, ‘The best way to help ourselves is to ridicule, make fun of, or criticize’ anything that is not good for us,” he says. This laughter-is-the-best-medicine philosophy informs the rest of his work, which is organized into four core chapters full of stories and tips targeting food, drugs, alcohol and gambling abuse. In “De-Fat-Lization,” he details an array of “Slimmers” types and products, including spritzing your family with “Slimmers Fragrances” to prevent them from snacking before dinner, since there are “certain food smells that probably repel us all.” In “De-Drug-Lization,” Ward introduces a character named Kid Resistor, who counters dealer Dak Druggery’s come on, “Do you want some drugs?” with “No, I don’t have any bugs.” “De-Alcoho-Lization” features the adventures of Albert “Al” Cohol as well as some sobering advice. All chapters contain silly mantras, including “De-Gamb-Lization,” which includes “Refuses” (rather than Confucius) sayings: e.g., “Refuses has no other choice than to say, Ca-si-no tomorrow and eventually Ca-si-no life!” Ward concludes his book with a summary chapter that provides links to addiction prevention and recovery resources. It’s difficult to get too cranky about Ward’s narrative given that he includes these resources and obviously is notably well-intentioned with his approach. His humor, however, can be quite old-fashioned and even politically incorrect: “If you take a trip over the Canadian border, they will attack you with a CANADIAN CLUB, until you feel a CANADIAN MIST, and you wake up with a headache.” The book’s title is just one of too many examples of cutesy overthink. Readers might also wish for more of Ward’s own back story and personal relationship to addictions. Still, he offers an array of tips and stories to choose from, and his eye-rolling humor may very well serve as a useful, nonthreatening introduction to conversations about addiction, particularly with younger children.
Avuncular advice about battling addiction featuring well-meaning if rather cornball humor.

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1498405607

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Xulon Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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