This is a very interesting and uniquely written book. It is charming and lovely, but also tends to drag on at parts, giving you the urge to skip forwa...moreThis is a very interesting and uniquely written book. It is charming and lovely, but also tends to drag on at parts, giving you the urge to skip forward to get to some more substantive sections. I really loved the humor, especially that of the old man and his many and varied foibles.
The chapters go back and forth from present day to the old man's past (in reverse chronological order), until they meet each other and past becomes present, so to speak.
I think it's a brilliant way to comment on 100 years of history, while making very subtle points about neutrality (which the old man carries almost dogmatically), and varies key points in history.
I think you have to be in the mood for a "slower", easy-going type of read. The author masterfully avoids making any strong, direct "political" statements, and instead lets the old man impact key events in history through his many adventures. It's a very funny, light, and unique interpretation of historical events-- from meeting Stalin; the Taliban; to saving presidents, and witnessing several revolutions. The irony of course being that through his want to not "be political" (neutral) in any manner, he ends up over his head in politics and effecting the outcomes throughout the course of history. It's a rather subtle commentary on "neutrality" itself (that it cannot exist when we are interacting with sides that are not neutral).
Read this with an open mind, and especially if you're in the mood for a slow moving, charming, quirky journey throughout 100 years of history, mixed together with an odd tale of theft, murder, biker gangs, pet-elephants, explosives, and an odd mix of similarly unbelievable-yet-funny characters.(less)
Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 skills to Master Business and Life compares the behavior of 7 chosen animals to that of the characteristics of business ow...moreSurviving Your Serengeti: 7 skills to Master Business and Life compares the behavior of 7 chosen animals to that of the characteristics of business owners (who are all trying to survive). Using the animals as examples, the book makes analogies and lessons we can learn from each of the animals (survival skills), depending on which one we identify with the most: Lion, wildebeest, crocodile, cheetah, giraffe, mongoose and elephant.
It is a fable of a couple who goes on a Serengeti tour and meets an animal behavior expert who shows them 7 survival skills based on the 7 animals. According the the blurb on the book:
"As a brutal business environment meets a soft economy, business leaders and managers are looking for sources of both inspiration and survival. This compelling new fable offers a riveting tale of life in Africa’s Serengeti and what lessons it holds for today’s beleaguered business people and struggling society. The 1.5 million wildebeest rely on stubborn endurance and support from the herd to survive; the crocodile is opportunistic; the cheetah ruthlessly effective; the giraffe embodies grace, the lion a master strategist, the mongoose is a risk-taker, the elephant is an excellent communicator.
So what animal are you?"
The concept of this book was intriguing, and although the author was obviously well intentioned, I thought that he fell a little short in the way the book was written. At times the book was a little "too much" in terms of "cheesiness" of the dialogue, and in trying to make its point. A more subtle approach would have gotten the message through in a more meaningful manner.
I did like the lessons the book (and animals) presented, since they are relevant and applicable regardless of if you are a business owner or not.
If you are unsure of which animal you are, there is a section to help you discover which animal you embody, as well as a quiz on his website you can take-- apparently, I am the Communicating Elephant, which has the following characteristics: They’re skilled at both listening to and actually hearing other people, and take time to comprehend the details in their message. They are interested in advancing the discussion beyond just a series of shared monologues and into a true dialogue. They realize that taking a positive approach can make others feel more confident, and in turn, more likely to cooperate.
This is definitely a neat way of presenting key survival skills and presenting what tends to be repetitive and rote self-help skills which flood the shelves at our local bookstores. It is an easy read and although doesn't present any staggering new groundbreaking information, it is definitely something we can all benefit from.(less)
3.4 stars I didn't know what to think when I started reading this book; unlike many readers, I was not familiar with the author and had never heard of...more3.4 stars I didn't know what to think when I started reading this book; unlike many readers, I was not familiar with the author and had never heard of her or read her blog. I liked some essays more than others (as is the case with these type of books), but her writing style and stories grew on me as I continued reading, to the point where I was looking forward to reading the next essay in her book. I liked her "later in life" stories more than her earlier recollections, which seemed a bit overdone and at times too long. I can honestly say that I liked her book by the time I finished with it and wished I there were more essays to read.
Personal humorist/memoir essay type books are always tricky, and can be so polarizing among readers primarily because they don't like the writing style/personality of the author (at first). Until you find and understand the authors voice, writing style, rhythm etc and get comfortable with it, these books are hard to appreciate. It is for this reason that I recommend sticking to finishing this book. It took me awhile to get into the book, but once I did I realized just how funny she is.(less)
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The attention to detail really lend to the story, and the fact that the author was a member of the CI...moreI enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The attention to detail really lend to the story, and the fact that the author was a member of the CIA for over 30 years really add to the credibility of the plot and story. (less)