As a very general rule (to which there are, as ever, numerous exceptions), I find that self-help and self-analysis books tend to polarize into two strands.
The first strand are written by authors who are clearly burning to share the life strategies that have worked for them. Such books make very heavy use of anecdotes and selected research results to illustrate the effectiveness of the techniques or life strategies they are extolling. The "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series of books fit this pattern very well. These kinds of books tend to reach a conclusion that desired result Z will follow if you do W then X then Y.
The second strand of self-help books tend to more exploratory: They gather together research results and established scientific and sociological knowledge, and simply lay them all out in front of the reader. Then, they might provide some fairly generic tools to allow the reader a better understanding of themselves, and therefore the possible personal applicability of the presented information. They may also include some anecdotal content, but ultimately - to a greater or lesser extent - they leave the reader to draw hard and fast conclusions about the subject and about how best to apply the content to their own life. Books at the more scholarly end of the genre tend to take this approach.
Obviously, both approaches have strengths and weaknesses and a variable applicability to any given subject area. I think that the approach which most appeals to you as a reader, will depend as much on your preferred learning style as on the skill of the author of the book. Some people learn best when information is liberally laced with anecdotes and stories, but others are happy to learn from expositions of facts, theories and techniques.
So, this book (yeah, we got there eventually!)...
I enjoyed this book, I think I have benefited from reading it. After I had read the first couple of chapters I *almost* gave up though, since the vast majority of those seem to me to be a recapitulation of what the immortal Basil Fawlty would call "The Bleedin' Obvious". I summarise:
Resilience=Good Life Skill -> Some people have resilience, some people don't -> It's possible to get more resilient if you have to repeatedly recover from bad stuff -> People who have enquiring minds, people who work consistently, and on a wide range of stuff tend to be more resilient than people who are lazy or stove-piped or over specialized and put all their life eggs in one basket
Erm, yeah, okay. Well, I probably didn't need to read the book to find out these things - anyone who has lived through almost any kind of family, or team, adversity will know these things semi-instinctively. For example we've all seen or heard about situations where people with exciting careers, hobbies, campaigning zeal etc tend to recover better from the loss of a loved one than people who are isolated, intellectually inactive, bored or who have generally negative personality traits.
So, I felt that the first part of the book just listed out what most people of any age must already know at the gut level. Well, perhaps that's what it intended to do?
Fortunately, the later chapters of the book delve deeper into the subject and provide more in-depth looks at the traits and approaches of what the authors dubbed the "R-Team". (Where, naturally, R is for Resilience). This team of (unnamed) people were apparently chosen for their life-resilience in the face of all kinds of tragedy, setbacks, failure and loss. I have to say that I didn't feel, even at the end of the book, that I fully understood what had been the qualification criteria for inclusion in the R-Team.
The book goes to some pains to make clear that resilience can in fact take many forms (recovery, reinvention, withdrawal and reentry, regrouping, coming out fighting and so on) according to social, financial, political and family context. It therefore follows that the drivers for resilient behaviour also widely vary (You may be resilient in a context where I am not - and vice versa).
I gained the impression from the book that the "R-Team" members actually had only one central thing in common, which is that they had all proved they were good at recovering from some kind of adversity. The book acknowledges that "R-Team" members techniques and drivers were very varied and tries to pull together common threads from their behaviors. I think that the main value of the book comes from this effort - providing a fairly detailed walk through the possible factors involved and looking at how they might apply in some cases and not others. Even the attempt to classify the R-Team members as type A or type B (where A is analytical, laid back, tolerant etc and type B is thrusting, get things done with no delays, damn the consequences etc) is somewhat inconclusive: Apparently R-Teamers do tend more to be the latter type, but not by any means totally or exclusively.
To me, it's okay for an investigative book like this to conclude that there is no single magic bullet to attain perpetual resilience, to conclude that - since we all have our own tipping point between bad and good stress - what leads one person to resilient recovery, might lead another to depression and illness. I feel that the value of this book was more as an exploration of the subject, than in any conclusions reached or tools provided. In other words, it makes you think and reflect on the subject more deeply than you might otherwise have done. I think that is just as valuable as if the book had managed to distill a foolproof prescription for guaranteed resilience in any situation.
Above, I split books from the self-help/self-analysis genre into two strands: If you like books that fit in the second strand, then I'm pretty certain you will like this book. The reverse is also true.