Book Review of Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours
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Book Review of: Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours

Turning Adversity Into Success

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Review of Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours, by David Heenan (Hardcover, 2010)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

Some chapters this book felt inspiring, but some felt tiring. The problem is the hyperbolic, exaggerating writing style that makes heavy use of superlatives and strong adjectives. A little embellishment, like a little salt, improves the flavor. This author tends to go overboard, especially in the first few chapters. Chapter 6 had the least amount of this embellishment, and I found it to be a page-turner. I wish the rest of the book had its tone.

This particular collection of ten transformation stories is arranged in a manner that promotes some synergy between them. The book is arranged into three Parts. While you will read the stories of three or four very different people in each Part, the people featured in that part have something in common. Heenan explains what that is, in the Introduction.

While Heenan was doing his research, it occurred to him that people with transformational stories are crusaders, combatants, or comeback kids. And there you have the themes of the three Parts. Each of the ten stories has its own chapter, and the book concludes with Chapter 11. That final chapter, "Strategies for a Bright Triumph," spells out the "take away lessons" of the previous ten chapters. Rather than present a laundry list, Heenan details six strategies. The fifth one is, in my opinion, the most important. It's probably the game-changing strategy for anyone who is struggling.

So, you could read the first ten chapters to "get a feel good" and you'd get your money's worth from the purchase of it. But with that final chapter you can say, "OK, what do these stories really mean for me?" And you can find the answers.

This book runs 204 pages, plus it has a 27-page bibliography. That size of bibliography for this size of text is impressive in itself, but the bibliography shows you only the written record research of the author. Heenan also conducted interviews with many people (not just the folks who are the subjects of the transformation stories). This exhaustive research on the part of the author may explain why I did not find a single factual error in this book. If you read some other reviews of mine, you can find long lists of errors. Not here, though, because there weren't any.

Another big plus for this book is the author defied the current practice of using a nonfiction book as a platform for preaching personal political opinions. There's not a single political opinion in this book. Kudos to Heenan for that.




About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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