An earnest and ultimately uplifting personal account of overcoming misfortune through faith and self-encouragement.

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RISE UP AGAINST ALL ODDS

ADVERSITY TO ADVANCE BRAVE SYSTEM

A debut book focuses on taking the defeat out of everyday setbacks.

In her brief work, Boshoma urges her readers not only to be brave in the face of hardships as a matter of personal principle, but also to be brave as a strategy. B.R.A.V.E. is the author's acronym for a system of dealing with the worst difficulties that life can throw at a person. Boldness, Resilience, Authenticity, Vision, and Enthusiasm, mixed with generous helpings of Boshoma’s own fervent Christianity, form the backbone of a tactic for facing troubles of all kinds. She strongly advises her readers to become the authors of their own life stories. Toward that end, she illustrates her inspirational points with many reports from her own past and tales of her own problems, including suffering a mild stroke and being hounded out of her job by a vindictive superior, who will do stand-in duty for every reader’s worst boss. The emphasis throughout is on not only working through periods of adversity, but also using the very forces of adversity to do it. Although Boshoma frequently cites Jesus as her personal inspiration, much of the common-sense advice she dispenses should be useful to readers of any religious faith or none. She has a weakness for quoting the blandest clichés from self-help authors and other notables, as when she quotes Napoleon Hill (“Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”) or Maya Angelou (“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated”). And she adds clichés to such bromides (when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade; with faith you can move mountains, etc.). But the main argument of this passionate book—that rough times can be made to yield new opportunities if readers stay focused and optimistic—comes through loud and clear.

An earnest and ultimately uplifting personal account of overcoming misfortune through faith and self-encouragement.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4828-7712-0

Page Count: 122

Publisher: PartridgeAfrica

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2017

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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