Top critical review
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This would have made a very interesting magazine article.
on 8 January 2004
Although there are some interesting ideas in this book, there is an awful lot of padding; and believe me it takes an awful lot of padding to stretch 4 ideas into 200 pages.
It soon becomes irritating to have so many re-statements of the same ideas and "quick re-caps" and end-of-chapter summaries. No-one has an attention span that short!
The 4 ideas themselves are fair enough: 1. maximise your opportunities, 2. listen to your hunches, 3. expect good fortune, and 4. turn your bad look into good.
Where the author weakens his own case is by over-stating them. For example, in number 1, he tells us that at a party of 50 people you are two handshakes away from 4.5 million people. Well, sorry, but [like pyramid selling] this just doesn't add up. The reality is that most of the 50 people at any party will know the same people, not a whole new set of 50. My point is that the argument is valid enough without over-stating it like this.
The discussion of the main ideas is disappointingly one-dimensional. For example, the author refers to effects of extraversion on luck. This is interesting and, since we know from twin studies that there is a genetic component to extraversion, this raises the possibility of a genetic factor in luck. However, this idea probably doesn't really sit too well with a self-help book, however interesting and isn't developed.
Finally, I found myself reaching for the sick-bag after the 92nd story from the Pollyannas who seem to populate the author's world of lucky people. Check out Marvin "who always wanted to be a private detective...a few hours later he walked away with headed stationery, business cards and his dream job." [p.117] You would have to have no sense of irony not to laugh out loud!
I notice that the author has quite a few books and so on; all seemingly based on this one idea. No-one could accuse him of not pushing his luck!