Character is Destiny ISBN: 9781642799750 Morgan James Publishing copyright and written by Pehr Gyllenhammar.
Sub-titled “Reflections on Innovation & Destiny from Volvo’s Longest Serving CEO” is a memoir written by a man who participated in momentous decisions in widespread areas of the world. His prominent position as CEO of Sweden’s automobile industry’s premier entry no doubt placed him a position to be called upon to participate. He was one of earliest individuals working with Reuter’s press, well-respected for truthful reporting, and eventually held many decision making positions. He traveled to Egypt, Israel and Jordan and the territory of Palestine (1970’s) meeting with Sadat, Begin, Peres, the ruling brothers of Jordan and Arafat as a hopefully helpful individual (having refused to head a group); served as part of the European Round Table group plotting ways to gain closer ties among the European countries resulting in the England –France tunnel and more (1980’s). In 1994 he was invited to the newly democratically elected South African Parliament in Cape Town. And the list goes on. Then there are the other serendipitous encounters of importance. An excellent example, his relationship with the man responsible for Singapore’s continued existence, its Prime Minister. It resulted from a chance meeting on a tennis court. – “I have never much enjoyed talking about my personal life, I do find it fascinating to talk about the company of good people that I have loved.” “I have learned the most important lessons, and my connections to people…. Are what allowed me to exceed the abilities and capacities with which I was born, and to become a person who, I believe has been of value in the world.” The dialogue continues with numerous other relationships and the mutual, as well as world, gains from the relationships.
Discussion: The author, now in his eighties, condenses many of his discussions in an interesting summary of his opinion of the world in a closing Epilogue. An Afterword follows from a different perspective written by his eminently intelligent wife, Dr. Lee Croll whom he married after having lost his wife a few years ago. They have a 4-year old daughter. He remarks that there are “Complex currents and eddies at work on every continent” and sites Poland and Hungary as experiencing a rise of authoritarianism; Austria and Italy gaining strong neo-Nazi tendencies; Russia as being in a brutal dictatorship with unaffordable military and dismal economy; India as growing into a wonderful democracy – the biggest in the world; Tiny Singapore a good model for survival under “firm leadership”- although earlier expressing disagreement with the Minister’s ‘firmness’; China’s amazing rate of growth; Middle East constant brutality; Africa growing, but drought and starvation challenging; Australia comfortable and rich; South America corruption, fascist tendencies, declining growth and discipline. His impression of the United States, discussed earlier, as are the others, is quite extensive and leaves this reader extremely disappointed and really quite amazed. After pointing out his contributions and innovative ideas that have been helpful to other countries, here he presents nothing more than a continuation of the blame Trump material with which the country’s residents constantly are bombarded. In fact, some of his stated decisions denounce the man as viciously, if not more so, than I have heard or seen in the newspapers, TV or other as expressed within the country. Most regrettably I had expected that if a man of his long and far-reaching experience were going to spend the time discussing the situation here in America, he would look at the situation from a more level basis. I did not expect him to regurgitate material that is provided here daily. There is no question that Trump has few, if any, likeable qualities. However, if the author will take an introspective moment, he will discover a few of those he does not like about Trump, within himself – he prefers not to be part of a group but to work from his own agenda as shown in his preference to visit the Near East individually rather than having to perhaps agree with a group; his chagrin with the media’s reaction to his new “young wife”; his seeming often confrontational relationship with Volvo. These factors alone would appear to provide some basis of thought when he considers the man he has been examining, a man who has been encountering similar situations and attacks for almost 4 years. I guess this reviewer just expected a man of the author’s remarkable attainments to at least attempt to provide innovative thoughts with respect to what road possibly may be followed to bring a no doubt circuitous, but viable path to gain a suitable result for America.
3* Remarkable man; great disappointment in part as described.