3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A rich book about the complexity of our choices and destiny,
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This review is from: Hannibal and Me: What History's Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us about Success and Failure (Hardcover)
I came to regard Rudyard Kipling's poem If was a corny work, beloved by Rotarians and dim-witted public school types. Andreas Kluth has made me see it afresh. He liked the line, 'If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same', and he has used it to create a rich and deep text which examines the question of success in life. What does it mean?
Kluth takes the sort of life stories that fascinate ambitious adolescents - Shackleton, Hannibal, Steve Jobs - and retells them beautifully, but he adds in the details of what happened to them after their great victories. It turns out that success can be as difficult to deal with as failure. Time takes the edge off heroism and can sink a character who is not prepared to accept change. I'm 43 and many of the experiences of my 20s and 30s, I considered huge failures, but as I get older I begin to see they were actually not so bad, in fact I can be quite proud of them.
When I left school, I watched in amazement as Sam Mendes, who was a few years above me, became a Hannibal in the world of entertainment. He won every prize in theatre and film and then married one of the biggest stars. How did he do it? How could any of us match his achievements? But in middle-age success has become more complex even for him.
So this book is for anyone who is beginning to see through the one-dimensional aspirations of youth. It's timely because so many people feel they have lived through prosperity built of firm foundations for the past 15 years, and they're discovering that it wasn't true. Andreas Kluth has written a gripping, thoughtful and wise book.