America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy that Built a Nation --- by --- Joshua Kendall.
The premise behind this book is elegantly simple: select six significant figures, from various walks of life from America’s past; carefully and selectively extract from the lives of each facts that support the hypothesis that each exhibited, to one degree or another, from obsessive-compulsive behaviour; posit that in each case, their success can be attributed to their “malady”. The six are a diverous lot indeed: they range from Thomas Jefferson to Ted Williams; from Estee Lauder to Charles Lindberg. Kendall’s book exposes aspects of his subjects’ past that many readers will encounter for the first time. His subjects were a disparate lot: most came from dysfunctional families; it’s a given all were over-achievers; many were isolated workaholics; many were psychologically on the run, trying desperately to escape aspects of their past. The book makes for interesting reading indeed: the stories of the lives he has carefully selected are interesting in their own right: to then explain their success in terms of their own, at times painful or self-destructive psychological make-up is, without a doubt, very engaging. “Obsessive” could almost pass for a scholarly work but for Kendall’s frequent lapse of reverting to a more “popular” vocabulary perhaps characteristic of his his primary métier as a journalist. But still, a very interesting work none the less proving that non-fiction can be interesting to read.
I guess I thought this was going to be a critique, but it was more of a "how to succeed in business" type of thing.
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