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On Becoming Fearless.... in Love, Work, and Life Hardcover – September 4, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In her entry into the overstuffed semi-autobiographic inspirational self-help genre, Huffington's main message is more or less unassailable: "Women have so much potential, yet we hold ourselves back. If my daughters, and women of all ages, are to take their rightful place in society, they must become fearless." Huffington ruminates on the cultivation of fearlessness in all aspects of a woman's life: body image, love, motherhood, work, money, illness and aging, with contributions from other fearless females like Nora Ephron and Diane Keaton. Though the author's common-sense feminism is welcome in a sea of women's books dedicated solely to snagging a man, it can at times be overly simplistic; regarding the reason women stay in physically abusive relationships, Huffington states that "if you understand women's deep fear of being alone, it's not a huge mystery." But generalizations such as this are one of the pitfalls of picking a motif-"fearlessness"-and using it as a litmus test for any given situation. Still, Huffington's strident voice and populist sympathies make this an encouraging, if not particularly inspiring, call to arms against the forces that would keep women "sacrificing our personal truth to go along, be approved of, or just plain be 'nice.'"
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Huffington, nationally syndicated columnist and one of the hundreds of candidates for California governor in the election that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to office, offers a surprisingly refreshing look at the journey women take to fearlessness. Huffington observes the standard fears that plague women's lives: insecurities about their beauty and youth, getting and keeping a man's love, the need for approval of others, the demands of motherhood. She intersperses her own personal recollections with essays by women, well-known and obscure, on their own efforts to overcome fear. Among the women who contribute essays or commentary are Nora Ephron, Diane Keaton, documentary producer Kathy Eldon, producer Marcy Carsey, author Agapi Stassinopoulos, a psychiatry professor, and Huffington's office manager. Huffington cites The Rules and stats from women's magazines as well as Shakespeare and C. S. Lewis, the Koran and the Bible, in a wide-ranging look at the challenges women face in family, faith, careers, and personal fulfillment to explore the rewards of facing up to fears and working steadily toward fearlessness. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Since I don't live in California, I didn't recognize Huffington's name from her gubernatorial race. I don't know her name or politics.
On Becoming Fearless seems to be a collection of random thoughts, interspersed with brief essays from celebrities and notables. Alas, publishers like names more than ideas and revere fame more than substance.
The chapter on aging seems at best irrelevant and at worst insensitive. Huffington begins by noting the Greek respect for elders. True, many cultures do revere elders (although I wonder how long that pattern will continue). But that's not relevant to most of us.
Don't look in the mirror, Huffington says. Accept yourself. But she acknowledges her use of detox processes (yuk) and the services of a very special esthetician (beyond reach and pocketbook of most aging women).
In another example, the chapter on money sings the familiar song of passion and abundance. While many people are held back by fear, a little healthy caution can save others from disastrous moves. Some people handle risk better than others. Some come up with realistic dreams while others build castles in the air.
Bottom Line: I was disappointed in my quest for a new book to recommend. If you want to read a really good book on fear, get Thom Rutledge's book, Embracing Fear. Or read one of Harriet Lerner's books.
What's really scary is that fluff and New Age-y books are so quick to attract publishers and ultimately readers.
But when I got to the chapter about Faith and God I was extremely upset. How could someone as open minded as Huffington be so judmental and discrimintory against athiests? I was shocked, her point being that an athiests life will never mean anything without belief in a higher being. The quotations are so upsetting and damning to athiests that she sounds so much like the evangalicals she detests than they do!! She is practicing the discrimnation she so passionatly fights against. I believe she is the one is who full of fear, the fear that maybe there is a possibility that God does not exist. This chapter completely negates the book and its message. I am so sorry she chose to write this book without really being fearless herself.
Huffington has never feared the consequences of her political convictions. "At the heart of my political transformation was my recognition that the task of overcoming poverty and social injustice is too monumental to be achieved without the power and scale that only government can provide. Along with this came the conviction that silence is not an option." Huffington has never allowed herself to be silenced. She addresses her adversaries with verve and mental acuity, and is known for her bulldog tenacity in facing conflict. It is no surprise to learn that she headed the debating society at Cambridge University.
In this book she lays out some gutsy principles to live by. Demystify money and don't let it rule your life. Don't be afraid of aging: "fifty really is the new thirty." Be fearless with the possibility of power; Arianna hasn't let men, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 race for governor of California, hold her back with the suggestion that she "drink more decaf."
Huffington has run for high office, made herself a known and to-be-reckoned-with face on our television screens, and has done so without sacrificing her femininity. She would perhaps say that stalking the corridors of political power and making demands of the system is at the very heart of femininity. Citing examples from the world of corporate America, Huffington shows us many exemplars of decisive, assertive women, and concludes, "If you want to succeed big, there is no substitute for simply sticking your neck out."
In her fifties, the author launched a dynamic website, The Huffington Post, quoting research that indicates that "later in life more women than men are jumping in and starting new projects." She presents the example of Sherry Lansing, who "with sixty looming" began a new career in philanthropy, forming her own foundation devoted to cancer research. Throughout this nicely blended book (fact, opinion, humor and theory), Huffington generously gives praise to her friends and role models, particularly her mother, for whom fear was never an option.
Huffington treats without hesitation that most profound of all "what ifs" --- the fear of death --- and in doing so summarizes her philosophy of fearlessness. "Trusting that there is more to the world than what we can see and finding a way to connect to it can help us face our mortality with fearlessness and bring this fearlessness into everyday life."
--- Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott