Customer Reviews: The Force of Character: And the Lasting Life
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on November 2, 1999
I found the Hillman book to be both provocative and deeply optimistic. Here are ways to view the aging process as something other than a final step toward the grave. Here are wonderful paradigm shifts that nudge the reader to see eternity right here, on this side of the grave. Each chapter shows that all one has to do is open one's eyes to the potential of all the stages of life and keep an eye open to see what each has to offer. This is made most evident in the later and last stages of life. Hillman urges one to see heaven seeping in to life as we age and each chapter gently encouraged to enjoy those gifts now and not set it to something that will materialize only after death. Hillman's style of writing is close tho that of Joseph Campbell in its breath of imagination and arch of line. There are parts that can only be described as poetry in prose. I have recommended this book to many of my friends who are, as I, situated between aging parents and raising children here at home.
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on January 11, 2001
As several of the reveiwers have noted, this book is very pleasant; it doesn't dwell upon death and suffering. That is why I believe that it will mean the most for those who are not really, really old. This book is intended for those of us who are facing old age in the future. It gives alternatives to the stereotypyed images of what we should expect. It gives reasons for what is going on. If these new images are already there in our vision,(thanks to Mr. Hillman) then what we experience "down the line" might be viewed by us later on in a different light. We just might be able to age more gracefully, or perhaps more happily.
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on September 20, 1999
Those who would label this just another book on aging would likely label the Iliad just another book about some guy lost at sea. "The Force Of Character" is the continuation of literary journey that germinated in "We've Had A Hundred Years Of Pyschotherapy and the World's Getting Worse" and continued to ripen in "The Soul's Code." Hillman in not casual reading, nor is his work inpenetrable. This book waxes nearly poetic at times, something quite unexpected from the bard who oft times mercilessly broadsides our culture's staid notions about salvation through psychoptherapy. While Hillman most always cajoles the soul of the reader to open and partake of his wisdom, this book takes on a quality of reminiscence, of the author and the man - and the character of the man - coming to terms with his own advancing years. Those who seek a book on how to age successfully by accumulation of superficial necessity would do well to read Depak Chopra or another popular icon of spiritual ascent. Hillman will not take us gently into that good night.
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on September 25, 1999
True to form, James Hillman once again calls for an artful reconceptualization of the mundane in his most recent work targeting the much neglected beauty of the aging process. Hillman elegantly charts this terrain with a trio of concepts rich in simplicity (Lasting, Leaving, and Left) and effectively applies his coat of soul to several hard-to-reach crevices (e.g., irritability as an expression of "raw urge to live"). As with his protigee Thomas Moore, Hillman ultimately champions the imagination as the doorway to self-actualization and spirituality. The result is fresh and inspiring, offering above all a glimpse into the dynamics of an individual hell-bent on seeing the glass as half full.
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on November 8, 1999
James Hillman writes with consummate skill and keen intellect. His subject is a moving target, not easily focused, but he proceeds undaunted. He has the couarge to look beyond the obvious and go where others fear to go. If he is hard for some to accept the reason may be found on p.136- "To see character we must look for it with an idea of character". Some may just simply have a paucity of ideas.
The marvelous "High School" chapter reminded me of my six years of Jr/Sr high school. Daily I entered the school building through a door over which was etched in stone "Knowledge is Power". Yes, good advice for young students. But now we know (p. 168) that Character is power- refined, controlled, salubrious, everlasting. Que la force (de caract`ere) soit avec toi, Docteur!
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on June 22, 2001
I've enjoyed James Hillman in the past and when I ran across this book in our library I read it. The subject of character is such a - a - uh - hum - hard to say and Hillman does it! I didn't give it 5 stars only because I would get lost sometimes and trusted that he would bring it all together - which he did, mostly.
I got alot out of what he said - but not all. He's a philosopher for sure. But there were some real gems... such as his take on grandparents, cosmetic surgery, and of course what character is in a round about way - the essense of us. What we are - what becomes magnified as we age and what we leave behind. I am really glad that I stuck with it - I got alot out of it =>
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on March 15, 2006
After trying to read it for so long I felt that this was a book I wanted in my library. Not as nice as hard cover but the content in this book is excellent.

I have assimulated his philosophy into my own. It makes perfect sense, since I have always asked.. "Why would God have so many people suffer with old age?" This book talks about us as if "we" are the purpose of life: to develop, understand and grow a soul. The reflective tendencies of old age help us gain perspective and make us ready to decide what was good and bad...sorta making us a more worthwhile conversationalist for God on the other side. Our body weaknessess help in various ways and he elaborates.

Excellent book to give you vision and understanding. I highly reccommend it.
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on January 14, 2000
I purchased Force of Character because a series of things happened that indicated to me that this was something I should do. I heard two radio interviews with Hillman within a short time and found his ideas resonated and were presented very accessibly; and my mother in law, who is having a lot of trouble adjusting to many aspects of aging, was visiting. Great, I thought. This is stuff I need to explore.
Having read the book, I still find the ideas compelling and important, but my hopes of being able to give it to my mother in law to gently urge her to appreciate where she is were dashed by the self indulgence and turbidity of the writing. I'm glad I read the book, I appreciate the new outlook on aging it's helped me move toward, I'm sure it will figure in many conversations with friends. But I wish it had been written with more grace.
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on July 18, 2010
I read this book with mixed feelings at first. It was hard for me to really stay with it but as I progressed along, I began to get it. Then, there were parts that were like WOW really good and that I could personally identify with. There was a part on pages 122-124 that especially was of interest. He told of a woman in an asylum who said she was not alive and the psychiatrist told her to feel her heart beating and she replied that was not her real heart. This was profound because she made the statement that we can be alive but not living at all. Also it has been a year since I lost my father who I loved dearly but did not treat well the last year of his life and I have been crippled by guilt and remorse. He identified these deep feelings I am having and made me realize that somehow, some way, I must get through this and live.
This is not a book for the young but baby boomers like myself who have parents and children and are caught in the middle will appreciate what he has to say.
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on November 20, 1999
I've read much of what Hillman has written and his thinking has influenced my own book, "Gideon McGee's Dream." In Force of Character he again makes me see life in such broader strokes than that painted by the dominant idea of our Age; that is that we are nothing more than a cosmic coincidence. For those with the courage to take this book to heart, and it does take courage, it can be a transformative experience.
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