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Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir Paperback – 3 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Joanna Cotler Books; Reprint edition (3 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060505869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060505868
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 729,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Seldom Disappointed This is a splendid memoir, an affectionate and unvarnished recollection of the life of one of America's best-loved writers today. Beginning with his upbringing in Depression-era Oklahoma, this book spans Hillerman's tour of duty in France in World War II, his newspaper career, and his now legendary entry into publishing. Photo inserts. Full description

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Outside on this New Mexico morning the dandelions add festive color to our yard while I sit inside casting back in my memory for autobiographically useful material. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jan. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Seldom Disappointed
How did you get here?
Are you a fan oF Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police books, or his non-fiction publishings? If you are either, buy the book, if just to provide for all those expensive American medical expenses that afflict the more senior members of the population. We want Mr. hillerman to go on for a long time producing more absorbing copy.
Seriously tho', if you relate to his work, you will want to know more of the man. If you have stumbled upon this by happenchance, search Amazon and zshops for his titles. Good Reading!. By the way, thanks to BBC Radio4 for introducing me to this author.
The jacket of this hardback edition is colourful, with the author's name and book title printed in relief.
The author leans against a gatepost and presents himself to the camera with an open, frank expression which reflects the contents of this absorbing autobiography.
Tony Hillerman, now in his seventies, recalls his life experiences in a rare mix of matter-of-fact modesty, stoicism, belief in his faith and the love of his family.
The book recalls the formative years of a child in the 1930's, tough to our modern conventions, but couched in the warmth of his father, mother and siblings' support. The passage through high-school education and the seemingly inevitable, though not entirely unwelcome call to arms for the duration of his Second World War is well written, even we Brits can identify with the mid-west of that time.
Tony Hillerman was a decorated survivor of the conflict, though his sometimes ambivalent recollections reinforce the reader's respect for the author. The chapters covering this period come across as factual, unembellished and sometimes thrilling, without any self-aggrandizement.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 April 2003
Format: Paperback
"For they are seldom disappointed"
I started with the recorded book 11 CD set and listened to the book read by Tony Hillerman. Then I bought his book (ISBN 0-06-050586-9) for the pictures of family and friends, and to look at the spelling.
There are many five star books out there. However this book excels beyond the five stars. Being the memoir of Tony Hillerman this is really several books in one as he remembers his several lives from impoverished childhood through military, through collage student, through reporter, now writer.
This memoir gives us many insights as to what Tony draws on for material in his books. And many aspects of his childhood can be related to by any child. His war experiences would rival "All Quiet on the Western front" and reflects the experiences of the most recent wars. I am now reading some of the source materials that he read for background of his novels.
. "Seldom Disappointed" actually enhances the enjoyment of reading the Tony Hillerman novels.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 31 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Good autobiography of interesting man
Especially good on his time as an infantry soldier in European war
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 86 reviews
77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Friend of the Dineh 8 Jan. 2002
By Ron Hunka - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Seldom Disappointed"
Tony Hillerman
ISBN 0-06-019445-6
I am one of those readers Tony Hillerman writes about in this memoir who does not like mysteries but reads his books. Like those folks, the Navajo cultural stuff is what interests me. Well, maybe there is something more than that. It is Tony Hillerman's remarkable ability to tell a story.
Hillerman grew up in Oklahoma, the son of poor parents for whom he had much respect. The title of his memoir comes from something his mother used to say, that one who did not expect too much from life was seldom disappointed. This was an outlook not uncommon to Hillerman's generation. Also, like many young men of his generation, he went off to the war in Europe.
As a combat infantryman, Hillerman won the silver star, the bronze star, and got blown-up by a mine. Yet there is little bitterness in him about the war. This is one of the few memoirs relating to WWII in which a former soldier describes the opposing German soldiers as "other teenagers". The casual manner in which Hillerman writes about his war experiences and later about his literary success seems to reflect a stoic outlook about "that short run toward the Last Great Adventure".
After the war, a couple of years studying journalism at the University of Oklahoma led to work as a reporter in Texas, Oklahoma, and eventually New Mexico. Fifteen years of newspaper work and being editor of the Albuquerque paper led to some connections with the University of New Mexico and its journalism department. Hillerman taught there for about fifteen years until he lost his enthusiasm for teaching and wanted to write.
Hillerman learned the Navajo culture from Navaho acquaintances who sensed his sincere interest. Having attended eight grades at an Indian school in Oklahoma and having had Indian playmates helped put him at ease with the people. He came to understand the Navajo ceremonies and values, which he made use of in his stories. For authentic and respectful portrayal of Navajo (Dineh) culture in his books, the tribe declared him "Special Friend of the Dineh".
In this memoir, one learns the origin of some of the material in Hillerman's books. For example, one of his villains is based in part on a death row killer who asked Hillerman and the Santa Fe AP bureau chief to write about him so that his mother might claim his body. It seems that he had been abandoned as a child by his mother and did not know her whereabouts.
Hillerman's "breakout book", my favorite, came in 1988 with the publication of "Thief of Time", about the theft of artifacts from Indian ruins for sale to collectors. It was his first book to make the "New York Times" bestseller list, and doing that, Hillerman explains, guarantees an author very large sales due to the way it is used by bookstore managers for ordering books.
At the end of this memoir, Hillerman reflects back positively on seventy five years of life. "They've been far better than anyone deserves", he writes.
By the way, Hillerman says that he interrupted a Navajo police novel to complete this memoir. I am looking forward to it.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Never Disappoints 2 Jan. 2002
By Dean Kauffman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Completely fascinating and thought provoking. Full of so many surprises and unexpected pleasures. I thought his portrayal of growing up in depression Oklahoma a revelation and a window to a time those of us who grew up later can hardly imagine. His infantryman's view of WWII must be read by anyone with any delusions of the "glories" of war. His immersion into the world of journalism and politics at the city, state and university level enlightens. And the joys of family life that have sustained him will sustain all. His whole attitude toward life and all the cards that he has been dealt is an example for us all. I have been a fan of his books and have regularly given or loaned my copies. Having studied anthropology in the distant past, I've found his portrayals of the modern day Navaho and surrounding groups to be better than any ethnography I have ever read - plus his mysteries are so well done, using the cultural complexities to further the plot. The only part I skipped was at the very end where he discusses each book - and only because I think I want to go back and reread them - in order. Tony Hillerman fills a need we didn't know we had until he came along and this book does the same. Thanks a lot!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Autobiography with feeling 29 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Tony Hillerman tells a touching story of a great writer from Brokaw's "greatest generation" and his rise to literary success and acclaim. His views of small town Oklahoma during the depression are sensitive and yet lively. His recounting of the struggles of a foot soldier in World War II are moving, especially to a fellow veteran of a different era. The true story is a window into the soul of a man who could create Jim Chee, and more importantly, Joe Leaphorn.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Never Disappointing 5 Oct. 2001
By Kent Braithwaite - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As an Anglo author who writes a mystery series starring a Latino private eye, I have always felt a strong kinship with Tony Hillerman, an Anglo author who writes mysteries starring Navajo tribal police officers. I found this autobiography a fascinating read. SELDOM DISAPPOINTED was never disappointing. From the days of his youth growing up in Oklahoma to his days of success here and now, Tony Hillerman tells a great tale. It is the greatest story he's ever told. His memories of his mother are particularly touching, as is his affectionate comments about his wife and children. Then, of course, there is his professional career. Read SELDOM DISAPPOINTED as soon as you can. You won't be disappointed.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Disappointed? Not at all! 11 Jun. 2004
By Philip A. True - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed reading many of Tony Hillerman's mysteries which are more about understanding bits of pieces of Native American culture in the high mountain country of New Mexico and the interactions of individuals, a nice contrast to the fast-paced, urban-setting mysteries rife with sex, violence, and foul-mouthed bad guys of many mystery authors. His memoir will delight his many fans because the picture it paints is one of an unassuming person who grew up in the poverty of the Great Depression, did more than his share as an infantry grunt in WWII, and relates his post-war life with his beloved wife, Marie, with warmth and modesty.
The book is plain and simply written and Hillerman's self-effacing demeanor sets it apart from the memoirs of other authors and artists who see the world only through the prism of their own egos. Hillerman does not reflect deeply on What It All Means, but merely relates in matter-of-fact fashion a journey through life.
His infantry tour describing the conditions in the bitter winter of 1944-45 concludes that Army Intelligence was seldom correct, the West Pointers directing the war were often but dimly aware of what was really needed, e.g., winter garb for what turned out to be the snowiest winter in Western Europe in 40 years, and that confusion and ignorance were constant companions. His "grunt" experiences are comparable to those described in more detail, and with much more reflection, by Raymond Gantler in his fine book,"Roll Me Over" written soon after WWII, of similar situations and experiences.
Hillerman's post-war experiences of university life, journalism, and, finally, his quest to be a novelist make up the final third of the memoir. Particularly interesting for budding novelists, and particularly those who have read his novels, are how incidents, individuals, and other miscellaneous happenings provide grist for what happens to Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee in their adventures.
In sum, Hillerman's account of his life is an honest, often moving account of an unassuming man who has realized his ambitions and cares to share a bit of this with others. A hard-to-put down book.
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