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The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me Hardcover – April 27, 2010


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Amazon.com Review

Questions for Bruce Feiler on Council of Dads

Q: A Council of Dads is a very original response to receiving a cancer diagnosis. What brought you to this idea of leaving a legacy of voices for your daughters?
A: My daughters had just turned three when I first learned I was sick. I instantly imagined all the moments from their lives I would miss: The ballet recitals I wouldn't see, the boyfriends I wouldn't scowl at, the aisles I wouldn't walk down. Mostly I worried that my girls would miss my voice. Three days later I awoke with a thought, "Here's a way to help my daughters know their father. Reach out to the men who helped make me who I am, and ask them to convey a different message to my girls: How to travel, how to live, how to dream."

Q: How did the Dads react when you invited them to join your Council?
A: The conversations were some of the most meaningful I’ve ever had. It made me realize how rare it is to sit down with your friends and tell them what they really mean to you. I think every one of them cried. Even more remarkable was how seriously they took their roles. Overnight they became a meaningful presence in the girls' lives--a new figure that was different from family, deeper than a friend.

Q: What does your wife think of the Council? Did she help build it?
A: The whole experience brought us closer and deepened Linda's relationship with the men. One reason is that if the Council ever needed to convene for its original purpose Linda would be the one who would have to orchestrate it. But more than that, having a Council created a new kind of community in our lives and gave her a window into how men relate to their friends. The experience was so powerful she's now created her own Council of Moms.

Q: Can anyone create a Council? What advice would you give someone who wants to create their own Council of Dads or Council of Moms?
A: I’ve been amazed by how this idea has spread so quickly. It seems nearly every parent has thought at one time or another about not seeing their kids grow up. I've been especially touched that divorced parents, single moms, military families--so many different people have asked for tips. Some people who lost a parent when they were younger are making Councils retroactively. I decided to set up a website, councilofdads.com, which has a tool kit and a mini-social network where you can communicate with your Council privately.

Q: How are you feeling these days? And what role does the Council play in your life now?
A: Nearly two years after I was diagnosed, I am now cancer-free, though like any survivor I get scanned every few months. (I keep an ongoing cancer diary at brucefeiler.com.) But no matter what happens, our Council will continue. It's the most uplifting community we've ever created; it helps us through adversity; and it reminds us every day to celebrate the friendships we are blessed to have.


The Feiler Family
(Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge)



From Publishers Weekly

In 2008, bestselling author Feiler (Walking the Bible) learned he had a rare, life-threatening tumor in his left leg. Fearing what his absence would do to the lives of his young daughters, Feiler asked six close friends ("Men who know my voice") to help raise them. Feiler chronicles his battle with cancer, from diagnosis to recovery, as well as his sentimental but moving journey to recruit friends who can carry out his wish to teach his daughters to travel, dream, and live life to its fullest. Feiler's intimate bond with his friends makes them unusually expressive and communicative (if lacking in humor), and their own biographies lend further inspirational dimensions to the story. Though his letters to friends and family can get ornate ("The Brooklyn Bridge...is looking fresh-faced and handsome overhead, its famed promenade glittering like the pot of gold at the end of a long journey to come"), it's hard not to get swept along and cheer Feiler on as he fights for his life and his daughters'.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061778761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061778766
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

BRUCE FEILER is one of America's most popular voices on family, faith, and survival. He writes the "This Life" column about contemporary families for the Sunday New York Times and is the author of five consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including WALKING THE BIBLE and THE COUNCIL OF DADS. He is the writer/presenter of the PBS series "Walking the Bible" and the forthcoming "Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler." His latest book, THE SECRETS OF HAPPY FAMILIES, is a bold playbook for families today. It collects best practices for modern-day parents from some of the country's most creative minds, including tops designers in Silicon Valley, elite peace negotiators, the creators of Modern Family and the Green Berets.

His most recent bestseller, THE COUNCIL OF DADS, is the international sensation that describes how faced with one of life's greatest challenges, he asked six friends to form a support group for his young daughters. The book was profiled in PEOPLE Magazine, USA Today, Time, and the Washington Post, and was the subject of a one-hour documentary on CNN hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Bruce was named "Father of the Year" by the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Since 2001, Bruce has been one of the country's preeminent thinkers, writers, and speakers about the role of religion in contemporary life. WALKING THE BIBLE describes his perilous, 10,000-mile journey retracing the Five Books of Moses through the desert. The book was hailed as an "instant classic" by the Washington Post and "thoughtful, informed, and perceptive" by The New York Times. It spent more than a year and a half on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into fifteen languages, and is the subject of a children's book, a photography book, and a miniseries on PBS.

ABRAHAM recounts his personal search for the shared ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. "Exquisitely written," wrote the Boston Globe, "100 percent engaging." The book was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, debuted in the top 5 of the New York Times bestseller list, and inspired thousands of grassroots interfaith discussions around the world.

WHERE GOD WAS BORN describes his year-long trek visiting biblical sites through the front lines of Israel, Iraq, and Iran. "Bruce Feiler is a real-life Indiana Jones," wrote the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. AMERICA'S PROPHET is the groundbreaking story of the influence of Moses on American history. Both were Top 10 bestsellers.

Bruce Feiler has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Gourmet, where he won three James Beard Awards. He is also a frequent contributor to NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News. A former circus clown, he has been the subject of Jay Leno joke and a JEOPARDY! question, and his face appears on a postage stamp in the Grenadines.

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Bruce lives in Brooklyn with wife, Linda Rottenberg, and their identical twin daughters.

Customer Reviews

The book is very well written and insightful.
betty wheeler
After hearing that he had a very rare and deadly bone cancer, Bruce Feiler felt that his wife was strong enough to deal with it.
C. Wong
I really loved this idea and it really does make you think about your own mortality as you are reading this.
Lerrgoo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Sanchez VINE VOICE on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wanted to be a better father after finishing this heart-warming book. Upon learning he was ill with a rare, life-threating cancer, Bruce Feiler, father to twin daughters Tybee and Eden, is faced with how he can show his love to his girls if he ceases to be a physical presence in their lives. His idea was to appoint a Council of Dads, a group of six men from different areas and stages of his life to be his voice and fatherly representative at special times during his daughters' lives. This book is broken up between introducing these men to the reader and recounting periods of the year he spends with his doctors fighting the disease. Personally, as the father of two young girls, the notion of a 'Council of Dads' intrigues me; I just pray I am never in a situation where it may become a reality. Fortunately for Bruce and his family, he successfully triumphed over his cancer and can continue his life as a father. Beautifully written and touching, this is a great book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Beauchamp TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One doesn't need to be struggling with cancer to ask many of the same questions as Bruce Feiler. All of us are just one tragedy away from leaving our children without the influence of their mother or father. I've thought of this from time to time, and wondered if the cobbled-together collections of my personal writing, photographs, and the memories of my other family members and friends would really communicate who I am to any of my offspring. These aren't morbid questions, but an examination of how to leave a child a legacy of emotional fortitude and knowledge, not just the burdens of going through the rest of their life fatherless.

Bruce Feiler addresses these questions with painful honesty. In the midst of his personal tragedy, being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his leg, he looks for a way to give his twin daughters the knowledge of the values most important to him should the worst happen. By assembling a group of men who know and love him and his family to be part-time father's to his girls. The most impressive thing about this plan is that despite his cancer, he looks outside himself and realizes that the needs of his girls are even more important than his own. That is what being a father is all about, and I deeply appreciated his love and care for his family. There were moments in the book that made me tear up--and I am not the 'crying kind.'

However, the book itself is less about the council of dads that Bruce assembles than it is a narrative of his journey through his battle with cancer. The book is arranged into alternating chapters of letters to his family and friends about the process of fighting cancer and family life, and chapters describing the men whom he has selected to be part of the council. The descriptions of each man are poignant, if narrow.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By M. Buehl VINE VOICE on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First off, I appreciate the author's candid and real accounts of how he dealt with such a personal tragedy, as a parent especially, I cannot imagine.
I was captured by the title of the book and the concept..like I said, I'm a parent too and thought it was such an awesome (awesome in the sense of heavy/important, not awesome as in great) responsiblity and idea to choose a council to replace your influence. I was disappointed upon reading to find not as much focus on this as I had expected, given the title. It is a chronical of his experience with his illness and how he dealt with it as things progressed. I have a hard time saying it was as inspiring as I had hoped...but I do think this book is a good memoir that will most certainly reach others in a way that it just didn't me.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nicole H. on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In The Council of Dads Bruce Feiler goes through what he calls "The Lost Year" after he is diagnosed with cancer. With very young twin daughters at home, Bruce was devastated that he might not be around to see his daughters grow up, and by what they would be deprived of without their father. In response to his fears he created the Council of Dads. Bruce asked a number of his close, male friends to become members. He felt each embodied one of Bruce's own traits that he wanted his daughters to have access to. This heartstring-pulling premise was what intrigued me into reading this book. I wanted to know the men Mr. Feiler thought were worthy of such a task.

Sadly, I didn't feel like I knew them after the book was over. They weren't particularly memorable for me, and in that the potential poignancy was lost. I did not feel I deeply understood the lessons Bruce wanted his daughters taught by these men since I didn't feel I deeply understood the men themselves. A good portion of the book is not about the Council of Dads, but rather how Bruce observes his family and friends coping with his treatment, and how he himself deals with it.

If you are going through a similar experience I would recommend this book, as there is a lot of hope in it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bruce Feiler, the well-known author of Walking the Bible, has written a book that addresses one of the deepest fears of a parent: the fear of dying while our children are still young. We fear our death will leave our children stricken and lost. We equally fear they will not be stricken, that they will be perfectly fine and not remember us at all.

When Feiler discovers he suffers from a particularly virulent form of cancer, he faces all these fears and more. His twin daughters are young, just 3-years-old. He is leveled by thoughts of what might never be: "I kept imagining all the walks I might not take with them, the ballet recitals I might not see, the art projects I might not mess up, the boyfriends I might not scowl at, the aisles I might not walk down."

Feiler's solution is ingenious and touching: he decides to assemble a "Council of Dads," a group of six men who will help guide his daughters through life in his stead. They are the friends and colleagues who have known him best in life, men who will be able to tell his daughters who their dad was. "Will you help be their dads?" he asks them.

The book follows Feiler as he enlists each prospective Council member. As he talks with each one, he reveals the unique qualifications of each as he recounts the history shared by the two. The result is an affectionate trek into Feiler's past as well as an emotionally rich assessment of the present and a fearless conjecture about the future.

A book like this could easily become maudlin (as I felt Jim Moret's The Last Day of My Life did).
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