Friday, February 11, 2011

A Return to Abundance, Book 1: Money and happiness, abundance and prosperity, money and the unconscious mind: a mythological, psychological, historical, and family of origin look at money & its power

I have a shameful secret. Despite 25 years working in the financial industry, I can’t handle money. I live paycheck to paycheck like many Americans. I have mortgage and credit card debt like many Americans. Unlike many Americans, I know that I shouldn’t be living this way. I know the correct way to spend and save my money yet somehow I am unable to put any of my knowledge into practice.

Paul Gubany offers a way out of this situation. He claims that people like me suffer from an unhealthy relationship with money. He claims that he can help us to “see” this unhealthy relationship and then change it to a healthy relationship.

I think not.

All he is offering is a bunch of psychobabble based on wrong information and twisted interpretations of western philosophy.

For instance, explaining the origins of money he says “around the time prehistoric peoples advanced from hunter-gatherers to farmers living together in villages of approximately one hundred or so, the symbolic faculty of the brain emerged.” It is a well-known fact that Neanderthals had “symbolic faculties” while living in caves, not villages. Ditto our own human ancestors who also lived in caves.

He claims that money “defeated” feudalism. Feudalism was “defeated” by bubonic plague, knowledge brought from the Near East by returning crusaders and the spread of that knowledge thanks to the invention of the printing press.

I could go on and on.

He cites Karl Marx over and over in support of his (Gubany) theories on money and consumption. He seems oblivious to the fact that Marx’s theories were disproven decades ago. Also according to Gubany, those of us who thought Carl Jung wrote about psychology and religion were completely wrong. In Gubany’s world, Jung actually was writing about money.

What Gubany really is writing about are his own issues with money. He also has some serious issues with his mother. He erroneously assumes that the rest of us suffer from identical complexes.

I am just as appalled as anyone else when extremists burn books, but I have finally found an exception. This book is not just an extreme exercise in narcissism but it is also dangerous. People with no knowledge of psychology, philosophy or history who read this book and believe the “facts” as presented in this book will be seriously misled, not helped.

Review copy courtesy of the author

Monday, February 7, 2011

Elder Abuse: A Family Guide

Most of us will eventually be responsible for moving an elderly relative into a nursing home or ourselves become a patient in a nursing home. These are wrenching decisions and enormous lifestyle changes, yet how much do any of us know about nursing homes?

Thankfully there is now a source of information as well as guidance on where to find information about this vital topic. Inspired by her mother’s death which was hastened by a brutal beating in a nursing home, Diane Sandell has compiled a much-needed guide to nursing homes and nursing home care.

This thorough guide offers advice on caring for the elderly in your home, how to make the decision to move to a nursing home, what to look for and what questions to ask when looking for a nursing home and most importantly, how to monitor the care that patients receive, how to advocate for them if their needs are not being met and what to do if you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused.

Just that information alone is invaluable, but Ms. Sandell doesn’t stop there. She offers guidance on how you can form a task force to work with your legislator(s) to pass laws regulating nursing homes and enforcing existing regulations.

Ms. Sandell writes in an engaging style, rendering complex situations and laws understandable to anyone going through these difficult circumstances. Most importantly, she stresses that you are not alone. Many people are going through the same thing or have gone through it in the past. She points out the importance of caring for the caregivers, of reaching out to others for help or just a shoulder to lean on.

This is an invaluable guide to a stage of life that all us will be facing, either ourselves or our loved ones.

Review copy courtesy of QED Press

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Morning Miracle: Inside The Washington Post: A Great Newspaper Fights For Its Life

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. Although not a reader of The Washington Post, I am well aware of the reputation of this great periodical and the legends who work there, both past and present. How is it faring in an era when newsprint is being steadily replaced by websites and blogs? How is it changing to meet these challenges?

Author Dave Kindred first takes us through the early years of The Post. And that is where he lost me. His sketches of people and events seemed, well, sketchy as if whole chunks of time and information were being left out. Was he assuming a lot of knowledge on the part of his readers, knowledge that I didn’t have, or was he writing for insiders, professional newspapermen and women who don’t need a lot of details or groundwork to understand how The Post became a world-class institution?

Then he switched gears. In an effort to illustrate the changes at The Post, he gives us detailed bios of some of its great reporters and the stories that made them famous, stories that could not be published in today’s environment. At least I think that’s what he was trying to convey. There was so much information about the reporters and so little information about the newspaper that I had to keep checking the bookcover to reassure myself that the title was Morning Miracle: Inside The Washington Post and not Morning Miracle: Reporters Whose Work I Admire.

Thrown into the mix at seemingly random intervals are tidbits about The Post website; how it came to exist, how it has changed, and who has worked on it. While he notes that the revenue stream has grown over the years, he does not go into any detail of how this occurred or future plans to grow this revenue.

Kindred ends his story with the election night coverage in the newsroom of Obama’s historic election. What that has to do with the negative revenues at The Post and the minimum profits of its website, is left up to the reader.

This book is more than a disappointment. The stories between the covers have nothing to do with the title on the front. It can’t even be called a very rough first draft. It doesn’t hold together at all. It appears to be parts of several different books thrown together with the only unifying theme that they are all about The Washington Post.

Somebody call rewrite.

Review copy courtesy of Doubleday Publishing

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

One of the reasons a lot of people give for not reading books on history is that they are not relevant to their lives. I have to agree with them that most history books are boring recitations of dates, wars, treaties and the important figures of those eras accompanied by dry analyses. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been like for ordinary people during those times.

John Paul Godges offers a different take on history. He writes about 20th century history from the point of view of his family’s history. Starting with his maternal grandparents’ experience immigrating from Italy through his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, he illustrates the important events of the previous century.

Suddenly, history becomes relevant. Thanks to the Godges family, readers experience vicariously the major events of the 20th century and how they impacted the lives of ordinary people. Instead of the “immigrants came to America seeking a better life”, we are treated to stories of what life was like in Europe and what “a better life” actually meant once people arrived here. Likewise, the turbulence of the 1960’s had different effects on different people as illustrated by lives of different members of the family.

I learned a lot about the immigrant experience from this book. I hadn’t realized that some immigrants came here only temporarily to make money and then return home or that sometimes they went back and forth a few times before settling down. I was also surprised to learn how readily they helped each other with loans of money.

Ending a story such as that of the Godges family is always difficult. The author chose the celebration of his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary which is a logical endpoint but I felt that he lost focus in this chapter. All the preceding chapters in the book followed the lives of the family members along side the events of the 20th century. In his final chapter, Godges chose to get very personal and talk about the dynamics of his family. It would have been more consistent and more satisfying for the reader if he had used the anniversary party as an opportunity to look ahead to the next generation and talk about the differences and similarities between their lives and the lives of those who had gone before them.

Review copy courtesy of the author