on 12 October 2007
Television commentator Bill O'Reilly advises people to become problem solvers by developing "the ability to recognize who really cares about you as a person - and who does not." This is great advice that many never follow. He contends in this book that the government, media, church hierarchy, and big business are not looking out for ordinary Americans and hence are failing them. Along with some personal stories, this book gives good advice. This book does contain some strong language.
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The major theme of this work is that you had better take responsibility for your own life . . . because no one other than your family and you will . . . unless you develop a few friends along the way who want to help you.
If you already understand and accept that point, you will wonder why you should read the book. Well, you shouldn't. The book isn't aimed at you.
The book is aimed at those who believe that the powers that be (government officials, your religious leaders, corporation CEOs, celebrities, protestors, the media, leaders of minority groups and the legal system) are primarily looking out for you and that all will be well because of their care. Mr. O'Reilly uses lots of individual examples based on experiences from his reporting to show that not to be the case. If you have read either of Mr. O'Reilly's other books or watched his television show, you will be familiar with most of the examples.
I was somewhat unpersuaded by evidence drawn almost exclusively from the worst behavior of "responsible" people and organizations. Of course, there are bad apples. And of course, no one is perfect. And the larger the organization, the bigger mess it will probably make of what it is doing. But the world also has a lot of decent people who will go the extra mile to help . . . much as Mr. O'Reilly does with his reporting on outrageous situations. I suspect that most people would agree with Mr. O'Reilly's point if it were couched in more of a "question authority" perspective.
Of more interest to most readers will be the sections of the book where Mr. O'Reilly talks about his father (who trusted no one, and let that distrust get in the way of accomplishing his potential), his own youthful and career experiences, and his mea culpas for the mistakes in judgment he made along the way. If the whole book had had that autobiographical focus, this would have been a four or five star book.
As a book for helping the average person be more successful, the book would have been improved by shifting its focus a little more from hammering the usual suspects to providing detailed advice for fulfilling the key principles in the book. Also, his subject is usually treated by professionals like Dr. Phil McGraw, so you shouldn't put your hopes too high for Mr. O'Reilly's advice for self-realization.
The writing comes across as relatively unpolished and often seems like a transcription of thoughts poured out onto a tape recording rather than as formal prose. As a result, the book did not work nearly as well as The No Spin Zone to get his points across. In fact, by refocusing on many of the same individuals, the book comes across as a little redundant.