A Coin for a Dream

Coin for a Dream published, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

This volume presents a series of short stories, the first fifteen of them told to the author in her early childhood growing up in Korea. They are simple tales, the significance of some perhaps even a little unusual for the uninitiated to absorb. Included are tales of egg ghosts, water ghosts, angels of death, servants of the underworld, a 9-tailed dragon shape-shifter and its nemesis, a 3-legged dog, also of the monstrous part lion, sheep and unicorn haechi with scales, feathers and horns who actually seek justice by punishing the wicked. Other tales, some provided a little later, detail the legends and folktales along with historical explanations of Korean beginnings, religions and practices. Included are tales of how shamans, these mediums between this and the spirit world are created, fascinating explanations of the differences among the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Dragons, discussions of their zodiac, and more. All of these later features gradually and ultimately fade into and join material of a bio- and autobiographical nature.

Discussion: This is the second book by the author of “Precious Silver Chopsticks” which I had reviewed approximately a year ago and stated “This autobiography/memoir is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper” and concluded: “Certainly a relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.” Because I had witnessed the conditions and people of  Korea during the U.S. involvement, my conclusion with respect to this second book retains my admiration for the author and personally find considerable material she has provided to be quite interesting. But regrettably and in all honesty, I must narrow the scope of those for whom I believe this book will have appeal. There is much redundancy in her presentation and repetition within the body of the work as well as a considerable amount from her first book. Thus, I strongly recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning more about other people, their history, cultures, religions, activities, habits, individual beliefs, and their personal abilities to adapt and especially as depicted here, to survive. For readers with these interests, the subject matter most assuredly requires a 5*. The rating unfortunately must be reduced by 2 because of matters that judicious editing would have removed, plus the most regrettable fact its level of interest for others than those mentioned; i.e. general readership, probably would not be extensive.

3* 5* story regrettably reduced by 2 as explained in the discussion.

An Incredible Journey

     An Incredible Journey ISBN: 9780990393559 Barringer Publishing copyright and written by Thomas Z. Lajos.

Dr. Lajos’ story of his journey has been divided of necessity and presented in 5 distinct parts. Part I deals with the first 25 years including family background and describes its effects while under Nazi influence followed by dwelling behind the Iron Curtain for years; Part II describes his search for training in surgery, freedom and democracy first in the British Isles then Kingston and Toronto, Canada in the New World. Part III and IV provide details first of the professional years and the author’s training in general surgery followed by that in cardiac and thoracic surgery. Part V consists of several appendices that provide interesting factual material on several incidents, movements, manifestos and important people involved along with fascinating observations on political as well as movements and decisions with respect to total health care. The book also includes a list of figures and captions for the sizable number of pictures included, a Bibliography, and a very sizable Name index.

Discussion: This is perhaps one of the most inclusive biographies this reviewer has read. It also is one that demonstrates the tenacity of purpose of a man subjected to numerous almost insurmountable conditions during one of history’s periods of abominable activity. An era in which two men, Hitler and Stalin, with obviously malignantly degenerative thought patterns were particularly dominant. With respect to the biographer, his ability to recall the names and accompanying incidents associated with the person is most highly commendable. His descriptions of attempting to obtain surgical training as a Resident in so many different training venues quite clearly reveals the problems facing residents when they move from one program to another. Each program invariably is dominated by quite rigid protocols established and monitored by individual physicians usually quite specific in running the program as they see fit. One to two residencies usually are sufficient for most. His tenacity to gain maximum training was exemplary.

Summary: An autobiography about and by a man of fine intellect and all of ‘the right stuff’ to succeed. Truly “An Incredible Journey”.

5* An autobiography demonstrating truly exemplary personal attributes.

The Changemaker

The Changemaker ISBN 9781946633736 Forbes Media copyright and written by Deke Copenhaver.

Sub-titled “The art of building better leaders” opens with several statements of praise for the book and its author followed by publication details; a forward; acknowledgements; about the author; timeline; introduction; nine chapters; “a parting word”, Passing the Baton to the Next Changemakers”; and more about deke”. The author admonishes that a Changemaker is “somebody who’s not afraid to do something different in the service of a good cause” and describes 7 attributes of such individuals; asks “What kind of Leader are you? Stresses the importance of creativity; Courage to Weather the Storm; importance of Coming Together; need to listen so you can learn from others; the requirement of transparency in all activities; dire need to remain calm, composed and lead on during times of trouble; and perhaps the most essential requirement, to follow your moral compass. Each chapter expands upon its subject matter and provides a helpful list of activities apropos to the subject in hand.

Discussion: This is a well-written book by an intelligent non-politician who had the temerity to run, and serve, for 3 terms (2005-2014) as Mayor of Augusta, Georgia. He was eminently successful by travelling a path quite different from the usual track espoused by career politicians. The individual chapters tell how it was accomplished and provides the reader with step by step directions how to become such a leader. Although containing some redundancy, an unfortunate feature of written material presented by anyone accustomed to speaking engagements, this is a well-written blueprint for any person desirous of attaining a high level of expertise in leadership.

5* Worthwhile read for any aspiring leader.

May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision

May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision ISBN: 978732721616, published, copyright and written by Gloria Squitiro.

This is an autobiographical segment in the life of a woman of Italian birth, happily married to a man who is a brutally frank auditor who attacks waste in government budgets – Mark Funkhouser, politician, author, former Auditor, then elected Mayor of City of Kansas City, MO. She, like Mark, is adamant about seeking the truth about her areas of interest; e.g. a freelance (unattached to any hospital) individual providing knowledge and aid to couples before and during childbirth after experiencing 2 caesarian sections that seemingly were unnecessary. Her birth children are a son and daughter and she has others she has attracted because of her nature. The story covers a period preceding her husband’s run for Mayor starting with a somewhat extended trip to Europe with the whole family as well as a period following their return.

Discussion: The author has initiated “The C’mon Funk Series” with this first volume that is sub-titled “The side-effects of bravery”. Here, she has set forth a no-holds-barred look at her unvarnished truth seeking evaluation of a number of factors and situations from her brave but confessed quite hypochondriacally slanted approach to life. It provides both humor and bits of poignancy from a realistic viewpoint that seems to be quite congruent with her husband’s thought processes. In her own words: she “has an INFJ (Introverted, intuitive, Feeling, Judging) personality. She is an advocate. She is a dreamer who takes concrete steps to realize her goals and make a lasting positive impact. Helping others is her purpose in life, but not through charity work. Her real passion is to get to the heart of issues so people need not be rescued at all.”

5* Fascinatingly amusing approach to life fascinating for many readers.

Unlocking the Natural-Born Leader’s Abilities; An autobiographical Expose

 

Unlocking The Natural-Born Leader’s Abilities, An Autobiographical Exposé ISBN: 9781524599584, Xlibris Rev. Date 07/06/2018, by Salar A. Khan, MD, MBA.

The book contains a Disclaimer followed by a list of 2018 Book Awards, some Book Reviews, a Preface and Introduction and eight chapters. Chapter 1 sets forth details of family background and of his parents’ role in his leadership development, their healthy approach to parenting and the importance of storytelling in providing a path toward formation of “healthy kids”. Chapter 2 presents “Teaching of Natural-Born (NBL) Abilities, Traits” which he divides into three phases – Infant to Childhood (Ages 1–11); Adolescence to Middle Fifties (Ages 12–49); Mature Adulthood Ages Fifty Onward (Ages 50-Onward). The 3rd offers “Could I be a Natural-Born Leader?” followed by discussion of such somewhat disparate subjects as “NBL Desire Built inside the Heart, Not as a Learned Trait; Employees Dissatisfied with Managers or Bosses; Changing Trend of Leadership Role; Difference in the NBL Abilities: International and National Level.” Chapter 4 describes the advancement of his foundation and development of Leadership abilities and intuition in clinical, research and managerial positions of gradually increasing importance. 5 returns to a discussion on Leadership and why he believes he is a NBL. 6 presents a discussion about the “Cultivation of My Natural-Born Leader Qualities” and of the qualities required to reach such a position. 7 provides further discussion of intuition and the importance of this element in leadership. Chapter 8 is a “Conclusion and Self-Assessment Tool to Identfy NBL Abilities.” The book concludes with “Awards and Honors.”

Discussion: An evaluation of this book, in this reviewer’s opinion, only can be done rather dichotomously. First of all, the author comes originally from the rather heavily conflicted Pakistan, where he received his medical training and practiced, as well as in Saudi Arabia’s more prestigious hospital system. His decision to come to the U.S. was to provide his children with a less dangerous life outlook. He sacrificed considerably to do so but believed that, with the teachings he had obtained from a magnificently supportive family, all would be for the best. His autobiography appears to indicate that he has moved steadily forward to lead a most exemplary life filled with development of a most notable array of the more important factors in life, apparently resulting often in acts of true altruism. Further, he has discovered that the incorporation of these factors provide a person with a most pleasant sense of satisfaction. Unlike today’s seemingly most dominant tendency to do as little as possible to gain the highest monetary reward, one should “accept challenges and perform additional projects without expecting any reward.” The book must be read to understand the principles the man has set forth as the most satisfactory way of life. From this perspective, this is a most inspirational read.

Regrettably however, from this reviewer’s perspective, the author has not clearly verbalized his intent when speaking of Natural-Born versus learned abilities, viz. Chapter 2 Titled (and discussed) “Teaching of Natural-Born (NBL) Abilities, Traits” along with his emphasis (and repetition throughout the book) on the thoughtful and effective methods employed by his parents while he was a growing child to teach him the qualities that lead to effective leadership. More specifically, the author appears to be attempting to provide an understanding of the necessity for a person to recognize the lessons provided in life, to understand them, and to properly incorporate them into his armentarium to attain a leadership role within which he/she then is most comfortable. Also from a literary viewpoint, there is a considerable amount of repetition in the prose and a certain ‘rambling’ quality to the presentation. Most assuredly the fact that English is not the author’s main language is a prominent factor in this presentation. However, the message he has sincerely attempted to project would greatly benefit from judicious editing.

Conclusion: A most inspirational book that regrettably portrays some confusion in basic tenets and unfortunate literary glitches no doubt resulting from English not being the author’s first language.

3* 5* Highly inspirational; 3 basic tenet, literary, glitches from language unfamiliarity.

 

 

 

 

Illegal

ILLEGAL, ISBN: 9780999185216 Cotopaxi Publishing, copyright and written by John Dennehy.

Plot: Grossly unhappy with the political climate in the United States and particularly resenting the rising nationalism (opposed to true patriotism) with its belief in their superiority to people of other countries, and obviously unable to effect change, the protagonist decided to leave the U. S. Searching, he discovered a job offer to teach English in Ecuador. He boarded a plane, entered the country, began teaching and felt ‘at home’. Ecuador during this period was in a near chaotic situation with a disastrous political system (elected eleven presidents in seven years), rampant corruption and bribes required for most activity. Residents had developed a rather free-wheeling attitude toward governmental authority, starting numerous road blockages and more. Completely enamored with the citizenry and of their temerity to exhibit their displeasure, he enthusiastically joined them in their frequent ‘revolts’. He also discovered the ‘love of his life’ in a young woman who lied to him, had occasional other sexual liaisons and fought violently with him after their occasional drinking bouts. Still his love persisted and with Lucia, plus his growing attachment to other friends he had made, he was willing to illegally cross the border several times – an activity he believed ‘necessary’. He had been deported once and the requirement to leave and return every 60 – 90 days required to reside in Ecuador, would mean exposure of this fact if legal crossing were attempted. The story continues by following his various activities within Ecuador and other countries during his extended stay and finally into the election of the popular presidential candidate who was ‘going to provide a government totally for the good of its citizens’. Unfortunately, this latter period in residence was that in which this ‘good’ president gradually demonstrated massively corruptive activity as well, resulting ultimately in delusion descending upon him and accompanied sadly by realization that Lucia also was no longer the ‘love of his life’.

Discussion: This autobiographical tale provides interesting observations on Ecuador in an unfortunate period from which it finally recovered, although again showing rumblings of political discord. Seemingly the author also has used this as a platform to project fundamentally a political viewpoint that entreats additional commentary because that offered is most interesting as the beliefs set forth by many impressionable naïve young people today, many of whom have not been deprived or abused but rather provided considerably more than life’s basics. As described, he was afforded a good life with his biological family’s constant support, including even continuing financial assistance when needed during this ‘rebel period’. He quite adeptly points out several problems facing U.S. residents, but particularly centers on nationalism and border control, accusing the U.S. of acting most unfairly in both cases. Summarily he states: “Borders are everywhere they exist between nations …, and they exist inside each of our minds. It doesn’t have to be this way…. products have freedom of movement. Why shouldn’t the people who made those products be afforded the same freedom? …why shouldn’t admission to migrants be the norm, and their exclusion the exception? …. Within the European Union, though travel is unrestricted, each nation maintains its unique identity … (also) there are a multitude of unique hubs that exist within adjacent neighborhoods ….”

His assessment, ideally speaking, is absolutely correct. Most regrettably realism   seems to indicate a naïve failure to assess the basic components. First, “It doesn’t have to be this way” completely ignores some individual issues (see below). Second, a huge difference in the numbers of individuals who wish to immigrate to various countries exists. Largest number are those wishing to immigrate to the United States. Here, for years they’ve arrived, proceeded through immigration procedures, remained initially within their own enclave but gradually accepted the mores of our country and moved to become participating United States Citizens, accepted the laws and enjoyed the freedom offered that in many ways far exceed that encountered in others. Parenthetically and most unfortunately, today’s immigrants cannot seem to ‘fend for themselves’ causing a drain on the citizens for financial aid often for sustained periods. Third, individual differences. Everyone wishing to immigrate does not have the preferably altruistic attitude. Some come to ‘send money back home’, some have criminal records and some, like the author, might indulge in illegal activity ‘because it was necessity to live in the manner that was most satisfying for him’ – justifying the illegality as something that did no harm and he was dealing with corrupt individuals anyway. Absolutely true, but still an illegal act that could have been avoided in the first place when he decided to ‘throw himself into the local revolts’. A country must be aware of such an individual because the ‘next time’ harm might be done. Fourth, he touts the free borders of the European Union, completely ignoring the magnitude of the resulting problems. In most, local worker/economy has suffered but more impressively, criminal activity has greatly accelerated. The author does mention “unique hubs exist in adjacent neighborhoods” but does not include the fact that their strict adherence to their own rigid customs too frequently are distinctly incompatible with those of their new society. Perfectly acceptable EXCEPT that with increasing frequency they are blatantly attempting to impose their mores upon the inhabitants of the country that has been kind enough to welcome them. Reason certainly seems to indicate that such activity definitely provides an unfortunate but undoubtedly cogent reason for existence of borders. Regrettably, these features are not taken into account in this otherwise well-written but rather critical depiction of the country that seems somehow to have provided him with most of ‘the better thing in life”.

Conclusion: I hope that anyone reading this review will not interpret it as ‘taking sides’. It simply is commentary that would seem necessary to include when reading this seemingly highly politically motivated presentation in the form of an autobiography, offered by a young man who appears only to have performed a surface examination of a multifaceted, seemingly unsolvable dilemma. (An aside – unfortunately, a number of errors exist pertinent to Ecuador.)

4* Well-written autobiography/political commentary; missing details provided here.