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Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life Paperback – October 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071499938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071499934
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“Eugene O’Kelly made a generous gift of this book. He left behind something wise and insightful; it’s something we all can use.” —Paul Newman

Chasing Daylight is the inspirational memoir of former KPMG CEO Eugene O’Kelly, written in the three-and-a half months between his terminal diagnosis with brain cancer and his death in September 2005. Interweaving details of his illness with reflections on life, death, and success, this passionate, deeply insightful book provides an unforgettable account of O’Kelly’s final journey, and is a compelling reminder of the importance of living a balanced and meaningful life.

"Voicing universal truths not often found in business or how-to tracts...[O'Kelly] made a success out of his final mission."-The New York Times

”One of the most unexpected and touching books you're likely to read this year.”-Bloomberg News

"A moving memoir."-The Times (London)

About the Author

Eugene O'Kelly started at KPMG as an assistant accountant in 1972 and ended his 30-plus year career as CEO, in which capacity he served from April 2002 to June 2005 before becoming a Senior Partner of the firm. He passed away September 10, 2005.


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Customer Reviews

It is one of the very few books that, upon reading it, I have gone out to purchase extra copies, to give to special friends.
Tom E Johnson
Although the book really, REALLY made me wonder if I wanted to know how and when I was going to die, it made me think even more of how one should live.
M. Norris
I think this book shows us that it doesn't matter when you realize that your life is a journey and to enjoy living in the moment.
Maria

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 125 people found the following review helpful By M. Norris on January 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to be handed a copy of this book by the publisher last week, when the James Frey/A Million Little Pieces debacle was coming to a head. It was fantastic to read Chasing Daylight, a real, un-sexed up memoir that deserves the attention that James Frey's books don't.

Most of the book was written by Gene O'Kelly after May 2005, when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer(the last chapter was written by his wife after O'Kelly died). He wrote about how he managed his final months alive; saying final goodbyes to friends and family, rememebering "perfect moments" he has before the diagnosis and experiencing many more new ones after. Although the book really, REALLY made me wonder if I wanted to know how and when I was going to die, it made me think even more of how one should live.

The story isn't about someone who threw his life away with addiction and had run-ins - real and imagined - with the law. O'Kelly was an accountant, most recently head of KPMG, with a wife and two children. He was mostly an ordinary person we can relate to who ran his life at 100 miles an hour - and was forced to step on the brakes when he got his diagnosis. Among other things, the book has a great message to all of us who lead our lives at that speed that we should slow it down, accept certain things the way they are, and value moments with family above time at work.

I also found the writing extraordinarily real, and at times had trouble concentrating because I found myself wondering what O'Kelly was thinking when he was writing it, knowing that he had seen his "last autumn in New York" and he knew how his memoir was going to end. Facing certain death with his level of peace was admirable.

This is a great book.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is written by Eugene O'Kelly, who was a very successful and ambitious CEO of a large international accounting firm. In May 2005, he was told he had only a few months to live, because he was suffering from an advanced form of brain cancer.

Mr. O'Kelly shows remarkable optimism in the face of his illness - not in thinking that he could beat it, but in believing that he had actually been given a gift, and he would now be given the opportunity to truly live his life to the fullest, and experience "Perfect" moments and days.

One comes away from this novel very impressed with Mr. O'Kelly, for the way he chose to live his life at the end, and for sharing his experience with us.

I earlier wrote a review for a similar book, and will say what I said then - that I don't think we humans are hardwired to always "live in the moment", and appreciate life to the fullest all the time. But these type books do help us understand that we should take the time to do so.

Mr. O'Kelly had a strong religious background, and he believed in an afterlife and that he might be reunited with his loved ones. For people who do not hold these beliefs, this book may be less comforting. But even so, Mr. O'Kelly's recommendations for how to have "Perfect" moments and days are relevant for everyone.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on January 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read Gene's book in one sitting, and will surely read it again soon. It's amazing how this man could possibly face his own mortality with courage, strength, and a new-found appreciation for the little things in life. I laughed (or at least chuckled at his ever-present sense of humor), I cried, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. This book had a profound impact on me. It has left me with many questions - about my own life and how I live each day. I am going to try to live for those "perfect moments." Thanks for sharing your vision with us Gene.

-AA
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Neilisa on July 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Chasing Daylight is a profound chronicle of Eugene O'Kelly's final 100 days of his life. He was diagnosed with late stage glioblastoma multiforme, which is terminal brain cancer. Within a week, he stepped down as CEO of KPMG and began to acclimate himself and his loved ones on how best to deal with this terminal disease.

As someone who is in the habit of setting goals and approaching every problem from a logical perspective, Gene O'Kelly began to make plans on what to do for the final three months of his life: He trains himself to live in the present, to find those perfect moments that crystallize the beauty of life, and to say his farewells to his friends, family and loved ones. In following his plan, and to his surprise, he attains what he's been after all along: peace.

There are few tragedies in life that can alter your perspective so profoundly, and one of those is being diagnosed with a terminal disease. It's like the blinders fall off and what seemed so important no longer matters, and what you always took for granted you now ardently embrace.

Gene and Corinne O'Kelly capture that so beautifully in Chasing Daylight. Gene's struggle with coming to terms with his death is heart wrenching, and Corinne's account of his final hours will bring tears to your eyes. Despite the short time he had to say good-bye to his loved ones, he did accomplish what he set out to do and then exited this life as a gentleman would: with perfect grace.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By karl b. on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gene O'Kelly was the CEO of KPMG, an international accounting and consulting firm, with $4 billion in revenues and 20,000 employees. In May 2005, at age 53, he was told that be had a brain tumour and had less than 6 months to live. He died in September of that year. He decided to narrate the story of his final months, in part as a personal catharsis, and as a reference for others.

I've seen some criticism of this book in terms of its breezy, somewhat detached style. But this denies the fact that death is as personal as life. It corresponds to temperament and circumstances.

O'Kelly was an accountant's accountant, a driven executive. He was not someone given to introspection. He lived an affluent, social and active lifestyle. It shows in this book. It has the accountant's traits of method, detail, thoroughness.. the executive's traits of objectivity, organization, compartmentalization.

He was not a particularly religious man. The religious aspects account for less than a page of the total book. He was Irish Catholic, but worshiped, better stated meditated, at a nearby Episcopalian Church, practiced TM, had a dinner and a private Mass with Cardinal Egan in his final weeks. The death sentence produced no profound search for spiritual enlightenment or reconciliation with God. The nebulous term 'consciousness' appears as the objective. This was just part of the routine of his life, and played in a minor key.

The book focuses on his personal approach to dying. Not surprisingly this involved a systematic, targetted, well ordered closing out of his affairs and relationships in this world. Some people might find this all too, well, procedural.
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