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A straightforward and memorable manual about discovering strength through seven virtuous steps.

In this debut guide to a purposeful life, a martial arts teacher weaves her autobiography into lessons about finding inner power.

Kim is no stranger to hardship. She was born in 1946 in a small South Korean village (“We were surrounded by mountains and rivers. There was no electricity and there were no phones”). Growing up during the Korean War, she faced abandonment, abuse, violence, loss, and negative reinforcement from a young age. Determined to practice martial arts, she continued to defy those around her who attempted to suppress her learning the sport. Heading into her teen years and young adulthood, Kim managed to find sympathetic teachers and mentors who would nurture her skills, ultimately leading her to a lifelong career as a martial arts instructor. Through the striking story of her triumphs and the vital lessons she learned along the way, Kim deftly lays out crucial ideas to help readers establish a potent inner self that can overcome all forms of adversity. Beginning with self-knowledge, she clearly illustrates the advantages of forming and controlling your own thoughts in line with your objectives. One trait the author encourages is a willingness to reveal and accept one’s own flaws and hindrances in order to overcome them. While the lucid book’s suggestions are simple in theory, many of them are difficult in practice—such as finally admitting faults and indulging in honest self-reflection. The guide also examines useful topics like yin and yang, emphasizing that the authentic self is a balance of both masculine and feminine forces, though many individuals are afraid to express the qualities of both genders. From these larger concepts, the author presents and skillfully dissects the seven steps toward locating the real self: “body and mind as one, with truth, purity, love, loyalty, sacrifice, and patience.” Assessing the last phase, the author notes: “Finally, we develop patience with ourselves and others. We learn to be content with the path we have chosen and with our progress. We stop living for tomorrow and live and breathe the journey right now, weathering life’s surprises and disappointments, remaining at peace with our direction and with ourselves.” Through all of these principles, Kim asserts, individuals become focused warriors on the road to inner power, shelving distractions and channeling energy from practices that support their goals and happiness.

A straightforward and memorable manual about discovering strength through seven virtuous steps.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9994282-0-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Mountain Tiger Press

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2018

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

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. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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