How to Live to be 100 ISBN: 9781943386543 Leaders Press copyright written by Elizabeth Lopez.
The book consists of a Forward, Preface and The Magic of Nicoya culture and personality as they are intertwined in a discussion as to how their life activities contribute to their longevity. This is followed by portraits and discussions with seven of these individuals about their lives and with a 95-year-old whose father just passed away at 110. Comments by a school teacher who has had a long and lasting acquaintance with these people follows and then comments by the author’s primary associate in the project. A number of local recipes are provided in detail along with a personal questioner with respect to the reader’s possibilities of reaching this advanced age, and thirty references are added.
Discussion: The book contains considerable redundancy. However, it is the most interesting result of the author’s request to be included as part of the group provided by Blue Zones LLC, Inc. to investigate whether this remote peninsula of Costa Rica qualified as a Blue Zone containing a larger than ‘normal’ number of centenarians (Presently listed are Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, CA; Ikaria, Greece; areas of Japan.) As a native of the peninsula and an American University EdD in psychology, the author’s stimulation to make the request is obvious and her findings indeed interesting. They appear to be much in accord with findings in the other Blue Zones listed with respect to living a healthy life style that includes an obvious genetic factor, physical, biological and personal traits and a life style consisting of low neuroticism, high extroversion, openness, agreeableness, competence, self-discipline, ability to ‘take care of one’s self’ and pride in being able to do so. Some qualities perhaps somewhat more specific to this population that she describes as the “World’s Happiest Centenarians” is their love of nature, music and dancing and strong belief in God.
Conclusion: An interesting, but perhaps somewhat surprisingly unsophisticated approach by a native who has obtained advanced psychological training and resides in the United States, to this subject of growing interest to a larger number of people. Of probably particular appeal is the inclusion of a personal quiz for the reader to take and evaluate his/her own chances of reaching that level – one that seems increasingly today to be elevated to ‘holy grail’ status.
3* 4* results & quiz to discern the reader’s possible attainment; -1 as described.
Breaking Free, ISBN: 9789493056145 Amsterdam Publishers. Good to Go, Part 1 copyright and written by Jeffrey Vonk.
The author has provided a quite unusual travelogue that begins in Switzerland and ends in an Afterword that brings this native of Holland to Chicago, IL on an impulsive decision. Between these points of ‘advanced civilization’, his journey takes him through parts of Russia, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, African Gambia, Jordan, Syria and Kurdistan. Perhaps even more intriguingly most of his journey was conducted singly on a Chinese built motorcycle, on foot and even horseback with occasional local bus and invited rides on trucks, vans and unusual personal transportation. His sleeping accommodations were at the least expensive hotels and/or hostels, personal homes and frequently ‘hopefully acceptable’ shelters in abandoned buildings or even the open air where he could pitch a shelter, or perhaps not. Conditions encountered for the most part were extensively primitive. Quantities of food and water frequently were low and even dangerously missing for periods of time. Quantities available were purchased if possible, or provided for one reason or another by many kind people he encountered.
Discussion: This is a fascinating tale of travel largely in some of the most poorly developed areas of the world undertaken by a young man who is intrigued by different cultures and thrives on living a totally different way of life. His story is descriptively presented and a reader can only marvel at the fact that his survival itself is quite remarkable.
5* Travel tale for those interested in other, often primitive cultures.
What the FIRE Ignited, ISBN: 9781642250275, Advantage Media Group, a motivational e-book Copyright and written by Shay Eskew,
This is the true story of a man whose remarkable journey began when as an eight-year-old child an accident caused him to be enveloped in flames that burned 65 % of his body. Thus as a child, he was forced either to die or find the mental toughness, grit and tenacity of purpose to survive the excruciating pain of an almost endless succession of treatments for this life threatening accident that even during the ensuing years has requiring more surgeries and therapy and other setbacks too numerous to mention. He not only has survived but has become a successful businessman, married to a beautiful and understanding woman with whom he has five children he simply adores and has reached incredible heights in several sports (after having been informed he never again would be able to participate). Perhaps the most astonishing of the physical feats he has accomplished is repeatedly finishing high in IRONMAN competitions as well as never having failed to complete any and all such competitions he has entered. (For the uninitiated such competitions consist of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, followed immediately by a 26.2 mile marathon.) His survival and actual ability to attain these highs combined with his simultaneous ability to carve out a most enjoyable and successful life he attributes to discoveries actually forced upon him. Out of necessity he was able “to train his brain to believe when faced with a death situation, he will survive so the brain automatically starts focusing on survival techniques and a solution.” Similarly “you can block out all distractions in life that deter you from achieving your goals.” He admonishes people – “Don’t subscribe to the victim mentality. Life is not fair and bad things happen to good people. Once you accept it, life is pretty simple. When something bad happens, know that someone has been through something worse and not only survived, but thrived.” That “Obstacles are opportunities in disguise” and “Our greatest disappointments in life are preparing us for our greatest blessings. We just have to keep the faith and continue doing what we know will make us successful, even if we’re not seeing immediate results.” It is necessary to have “Faith in God and the belief that success doesn’t happen overnight.” The story contains many more observations with respect to his life including humorous incidents resulting from adjustments he has made as well as poignant incidents and ruminations.
Discussion: This utterly engrossing true story proceeds to offer a massive amount of material that every person, in any position in life, physically compromised or not, can find helpful, if not literally ‘life saving’ in many ways.
5* A book EVERYONE can profit by reading.
First Survivor, an e-book published, copyright and written by Mark Unger.
The book is sub-titled “The Impossible Childhood Cancer Breakthrough”. The presentation follows with the author’s “true story of our unique journey. All proceeds from this book will go to the Carrot Seed Foundation where they will be used to fund neuroblastoma trials and support the children and families who are stricken by this disease..” There follows an account of this closely knit, loving family and how they reacted to learning that their 3-year old son had neuroblastoma. At the time of his acquisition this malignancy provided practically zero survival rate. The story then follows how they managed to cope with the tragedy – the need for constant care largely provided by assistance from the child’s mother both while in the cancer treatment centers and the periods at home. Simultaneous the attempts by the father to keep his only slightly older brother who was the stricken child’s constant companion from feeling unloved and ‘left out’, And all of this while attempting to maintain some business activity. At the same time these intelligent individuals were themselves delving into treatment plans available throughout much of the world, suggesting possible changes to the sympathetic, cooperative and receptive physicians who themselves were completely involved in attempting to move treatment for these unfortunate children toward a better prognosis. And perhaps most importantly is the part played by the child patient who at this early age was immensely corporative acting with a maturity far beyond his age through Cat-Scans, extremely painful bone biopsies, horrendous surgical procedures and repeated bouts of chemotherapy. Fortunately, the combined efforts of all of the principals finally delivered a live individual free of this devastating disease.
Discussion: The author has set forth an extremely detailed account of the day to day activity of the child, various doctors, his wife, the child’s emotionally close brother and his hours of researching neuroblastoma. It is a book that is a must read for any parents who have a child suffering from the same malignancy, as well as offering a template for family activity when even similar devastating disease strikes one of their small children. For those parents newly encountering this devastating condition the author has included 13 pages of glossary, 10 pages of Medical Background which are further explanations and 21 pages of a concise list of the child’s survival activity
Summary: . A truly remarkable depiction of growth of a protocol that has led to a remarkable survival rate for suffers of a malignant tumor once with an almost zero survival rate.
5* Remarkable child’s battle with a zero survival rate cancer.
A Cold July in Cuba ISBN: 9781599328560, Advantage Group, a biography/memoir copyright and written by Ray F. Ledon, M.D.
The author, a board certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology after serving as chief resident at UMDNJ is now a prominent member of that state’s medical community. His book, sub-titled “Recollections of My Father, the Revolutionary”, provides details of the trials and tribulations of his father, a physician renown for establishing the first Department of Anesthesiology in Cuba as he fought the corrupt administration of Batista, was apprehended, beaten, starved and threatened with death, saved miraculously to became Castro’s Minister of Health establishing services for the people throughout Cuba. Attempting to overlook the new regime’s anti-freedom activities that gradually but inexorably were ruining the lives of the very people they purportedly had attempted to save, he again became politically involved, participated in the poorly planned and executed Bay of Pigs invasion, and eventually escaped to Spain and then Canada. These are the memories of the young son who was old enough to establish a lasting bond with his father as he too was forced later to escape with his mother and younger sister and of the hard times he and they suffered devoid of a father until finally arriving at their present situations in life.
Discussion: This recounting of details of one family’s activities during the Cuban ‘revolutions’ must be accepted for what it is. Specifically, a number of readers will remember the endless accounts published at the time and subsequent books on the Cuban revolts. They were a prominent part of any American’s life for several years creating intense interest. Thus, if a reader is looking for anything ‘new’, it is not to be found here. In fact, it would be unnatural for a young child, to understand the extent of corruption and associated factors present in his world. The author makes it quite clear that he has no intent other than to describe his recollections and how he and his family were affected by these catastrophic changes and how they came about in large part because of his father’s participation as a Cuban revolutionary. Also evident is the sub-consciously haunting but unallowable memory of a young boy with a loving attachment to a father who sacrificed a beautiful family relationship because of an overpowering love of his country followed by bad choices. Such repressive reaction is understandable because of his similar love of country and his early established bond with the father that had no subsequent replacement. Yet, according to the substance of this book, parts of the father’s subsequent activity seemingly still are somewhat difficult to keep from occasionally ‘peeking out of’ that suppressive capsule.
Summary: If you are a reader who enjoys memoirs, and especially those with interesting psychological undertones, this book is for you.
5* For memoir genre devotees an interesting psychological aspect.
Fallen to TYRANY, From Mauthausen to Gulag ISBN: 9781477213707 (soft cover) Authorhouse publisher, a collection of personal memories by Thomas Z. Lajos.
Recently I received a gift of this small book written by a physician who was born and originally trained in Budapest. He escaped the Soviet troops in 1956 to Austria, Canada and finally the United States where he became a well-known and highly respected cardiovascular surgeon and Professor at New York State University there. The story is about his uncle, Dr. Ivan Lajos a true Hungarian patriot who was under constant attack first by the Nazis and then by Stalin’s regime. His offense? Being an outspoken visionary politician and patriot of untouchable integrity dedicated to his family and to his country and to its survival as such. As with many of those individuals who disagreed with the principles espoused by either of these regimes, many of the specifics of his interment and interrogations never have never come to light. Instead there are rumors, bits and pieces of his activity and other often only tangentially associated. However the author has done a remarkable job of piecing together what has been gleaned over the ensuing years and assembled into this book. Included are notes on the beginnings of trouble in Europe followed by the Nazi occupation and finally “Russian Liberation” in 1945. Particularly interesting is the fact that Ivan survived imprisonment in the infamous Nazi Mauthausen, only to be sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor in one of Stalin’s equally infamous Gulag’s, a.k.a. death camps. A chronological list of Ivan’s “Political Saga During and after the Events of WW II” also are included along with his bibliography and publications. Numerous illustrations are included with one particular map startlingly depicting the number and distribution of Stalin’s Gulags. Perhaps not so surprising since Stalin is accredited with killing more prisoners than even the Nazi’s.
Conclusion: An interesting quick read of how the patriots of another small European country fared during WW II and the subsequent shuffling between the major powers that often led to further tragedy.
5* A true martyr whose story should not be lost.