17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating, though a little annoying,
This review is from: Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Programme (What's this?)This is a book that really grabbed my attention, and I breezed eagerly through it in a couple of days. It's packed full of fascinating and useful information, and in the few days since reading it feels like some of what I learnt from it is already changing my life.
I have some major reservations about it though. Firstly, the writing style is overbearingly - there's no nice way to put this - American. (Actually, that's very unfair: I've just read another American science book - Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer - which demonstrates all of the skepticism, humility and humanity which this book lacks). It reads like a slightly bombastic self-help or business mentoring book; it never wavers in the certainty that it is right; and it never passes up an opportunity to demonstrate just how right it knows it is.
These reservations were only strengthened when I did some secondary research around some of the topics covered by the book and discovered that there are several people in the scientific community who have their doubts about theories such as Ego Depletion, or the link between glucose and self-control - theories which are presented in this book as fact, as backed up by an unchallengeable body of scientific evidence (the book details each supporting experiment's methodology in increasingly tedious detail, just in case you have any doubts as to how reliable this evidence is; however, again some independent research reveals that these experiments' findings are not always as rock-solid as they may appear).
The overwhelming impression is of a book dictated by the godfather of all Willpower theorising, Roy F. Baumeister, to his sycophantic amanuensis, Roy Tierney, who was unwilling or unable to ever question his master's voice.
Despite all of this, I'm happy to give the book four stars: it would feel mean-spirited of me not to, given that the book did hold my attention so strongly (despite its numerous digressions into experimental methodology), and that for all that some of its findings may be disputed, there are many which will not be and with those alone I have managed in a very short time to enrich my life.