Top critical review
Interesting Ideas, Terrible Dialogue
19 February 2019
I bought this book just by looking at the title. The person who has come up with the title deserves commendation. I imagined it to be of the intensity of Ayn Rand or other authors who are about 'individualism' and the courage it takes to stand alone in a crowd. But this book was not about individualism. It is, but in a very mild way. It left me with a feeling that I ordered a fine five course meal and got served hospital soup instead. It was healthy nevertheless. To some extent.
The book is based on theories of Alfred Adler, who if we go by this book, makes some very fine pointers to life and life-situations- Example- how all problems are interpersonal relationship problems, what is freedom, what is contribution, how to separate our tasks from other people's tasks, etc. and I have no issues with any of them, even if I disagree to some extent.
My problem is with the format of the book- which is that of a dialogue between a youth and a philosopher. I would have liked this book to be in some other form of narrative. The dialogue seems unnatural and contrived. The youth is portrayed as a very angry, egoistic and argumentative person. The philosopher is portrayed as someone who only speaks in Alfred Adler's terms and uses Adler's name to end the discussion or draw a conclusion, none of which seem a healthy way of debating. Things would have been better if Adler wasn't mentioned on every other page.
Also, the authors think there is a need to 'explain' what the youth is feeling after each discussion, so they add a post-script note at the end of a topic (The youth was now angry, or perspiring, or wanted to bring the philosopher to his knees, etc. etc.), which makes the dialogue seem very very forced and one-sided. I consider myself a 'youth' and I did not at all relate to the way this youth was asking questions and neither to the way the philosopher was responding.
So my suggestion - Read other works of Adler, or other authors. The gist of the book is very common to other self-development books:
Know your worth.
Let go other people's expectations of you.
Make a contribution.
Know what is real freedom.
Quit running after fame and recognition.
Remain present in the here and now.
There are other books which are far better than this and explore similar topics. If at all you decide to read this one, you can fast-read-forward to 100 pages, when the dialogue gets to the heart of the matter.
[The paper quality, fonts, layout and binding of the book are excellent. I bought a hardbound copy for Rs.414]