Incisive observations on happiness drawn from Eastern philosophy.

A guide to finding contentment by looking inward.

Hung’s debut comprises blog posts written over the course of the past 10 years. By sharing his “thoughts and feelings” on his “ongoing journey to happiness,” he hopes to “inspire everyone to have a positive, well-rounded, peaceful, meaningful, fulfilled, energetic, and intense life.” The posts (which can be read in any order and have been capably translated from Vietnamese by the author) cover multiple topics—suffering, joy, sadness. Many are brief musings, with Hung writing a few sentences on the power of nature, barriers to happiness, or finding peace in being alone by “being in touch with your body and mind.” Longer essays reflect on what he learned climbing Yen Tu, a Vietnamese mountain and holy site, and the importance of living ethically. Much of the thoughtful, Buddhist-influenced book considers the ways self-reflection and looking inward can lead to happiness. The mind-body connection and the relationship between physical health and joy are also discussed. In the middle section, the focus shifts to work. Hung (the founder of a technology company) believes that an unhappy work environment is like hell while a positive environment is like heaven. The advice in this section tends toward the prosaic. Run-of-the-mill tips (which seem borrowed from typical career advice) cover how to handle criticism, become a better public speaker, and set goals. The author doesn’t steer the reader onto a clear path toward happiness; rather, he recommends mindfulness, gently pushing people to pause and evaluate their life choices. The mind is like a stormy lake’s surface, he writes, “surging with crashing waves caused by negative thoughts and feelings.” To “realize the deeper meanings” below the tumult, you must make your mind still. Throughout, his words offer encouragement and insight: “We and not anyone else are responsible for our own lives.”

Incisive observations on happiness drawn from Eastern philosophy.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-69238-493-7

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998



This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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