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The Chronicles of Martin Paperback – March 10, 2014
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Martin divides his novel into 3 books. My favorite book was the first one where Martin gives us insight into his family heritage and upbringing. I related very well to Martin's mention of the use of terms found in the South. My father came from Texas and although he lived all of his adult life in Wyoming, our family could never get him to pronounce words correctly. It was always "piller" for pillow, "jaeatjet" for "did you eat yet?"etc. It was an endearing quality and one that brings back fond memories. Martin appeared to have had a great childhood, good role models, and the idyllic lifestyle found in that period of time. I'm unsure why Martin seems to have a gotten an inferiority complex somewhere along the way.
Martin is blessed throughout life with mentors that encourage him to pursue certain pathways in order to prosper. Martin, however, has a mind of his own and he forgoes much of what his mentors suggest. As a result of his arrogance and pride he chooses to chart his own course through life. This leads to many great opportunities, for example, working for Humble Oil (Esso) and blazing a trail that was unique to the business and to industry in general. While Martin did not follow the advice of his Texas A&M mentor, John Stark, in getting an MBA after graduation (with his degree in chemical engineering) we can see how an MBA would have benefited him greatly in his projects for his 1st employer, Esso--predominantly because his main projects dealt primarily with investment analysis and market research. However, he was blessed with a great mentor in this job as well, Guy Mallonee.
His assignment at Esso was to find out what the efficacy of advertising really was. Wouldn't that MBA have been helpful now? Trying to put a quantitative answer to a qualitative and indefinable issue was extremely difficult. The challenge was especially difficult because quantitative answers were needed to satisfy Board members nearly all of whom had strong technical backgrounds. Martin goes in to great detail about his projects at Esso and at times it was hard to stay the course. While the details included in the storyline are important to Martin and perhaps his family, it isn't likely that the general reader will care to read all the intimate details of Martin's projects. Although those in the oil and gas industry would likely find Martin's attention to this kind of detail a necessary part of the storyline.
We realize that putting a value on the worth of advertising is a thorny issue for any company; it is especially true for a company focused on engineering, geology, and other hard sciences; with little desire to worry about the need to advertise their product. So we can readily see this Esso project was plowing totally new ground, and undertaking a huge departure from past industry practices. The end result of this project was Car Care Centers, a destination not for gasoline only but a one-place stop for your entire automobile needs. While this project was initially successful we no longer see these car centers as the changing market has created a different way to service your cars. The success of Martin's projects tended to develop his arrogance and he was now ready for a different job, although he tells us Esso was the best employer he ever had.
Meeting his 3rd mentor, Jack Andresen, on an airplane trip, he is offered a job from Andresen that will forever change Martin's life. His drinking will increase and he will be eaten alive by his decision to accept Andresen's offer to work in New York amongst the Wall Street gang. While Martin's previous mentors had sheltered and protected him, Jack is a totally different kind of mentor--the kind that shows you what NOT to do. Martin grew to disrespect, even to detest Jack, thoroughly repulsed by his dishonesty. Martin also starting ramping up on his bouts of drinking, eventually losing his 1st wife and kids to the bottle and to his total immersion in his job, leaving little quality time for them. He only stayed with his employer and mentor Jack Andresen for 2 years and the lessons that he learned and shares with us are insightful and worth reviewing.
Martin's ego and drinking, now out of control, leads him on a rollercoaster ride of jobs, running most opportunities into the ground. During this vicious downward spiral, Martin refuses to take responsibility, blaming everyone else for his problems. Martin's meeting and subsequent friendship with Pat Booth likely saved his life. It is at this point that Martin accepts Jesus into his life and with this came the realization that Martin was going to have to put down the bottle. Shortly after this time Martin was offered a government job with the Federal Energy Administration. His project was to develop the means to get the USA off foreign oil imports. It is most interesting reading to see what Martin's group developed. However, Jimmy Carter's election, creation of the Department of Energy and subsequent actions nearly derailed the findings of Martin's project. To quote Martin "America suffers today, nearly forty years later, because of the blunders of the Carter Administration and its ill-advised energy policies!"
Book 2 covers Martin's drinking, how it affected his life and where it ultimately led him. Martin drank steadily on a daily basis for about five years. His drinking would start around mid-morning and go far into the night. However, being successful in business strengthened Martin's conviction that he didn't have a problem with alcohol. Finally, certain serious events led Martin to finally acknowledge his problem and join AA. It was only after Martin put the battle down did his relationship with Jesus Christ fully blossom.
Book 3 is a series of short essays, many about Martin's spiritual beliefs. While I found them intriguing, I do not always have the same beliefs as Martin. However, there are still gems of truth to be gleaned by reading and thinking about what Martin believes and has learned throughout his life.
This was one of the hardest reviews to write because of the nature of the book. While I would recommend this book highly, I would caution that Martin goes into deep discussions about his projects and sometimes too much detail may discourage readers from continuing. But if you hang through it all, the reward is a special book by a special man for what must be a special family.
Born in East Texas in 1936, during the great Depression, Martin R. Adams was destined to be an only child. His father was the Chief of Police and his mother was a long-distance telephone operator.
On reflection, Martin notes that his, was a rather "strange" household. Two grandmothers, as well as a "live-in" resided with Martin and his parents in a small, modest two bedroom home. They all had to share the only bathroom in the house.
There wasn't a lot of money, but fortunately there was a lot of love. Martin's father Albert, was an exceptional man. He was one of twelve children born to post bellum tenant farmers in Georgia. The family eventually moved to Texas, where Albert learned to hunt and provide meat for the family.
He was bright and self-educated, as well as a man of great pride and personal integrity. He was a great role-model for his son. Martin's mother Leta, was a good, loving Christian woman who possessed a sharp wit.
As Martin grew up, his fine mind enabled him to excel in school and he became a chemical engineer. For a time, Martin was among an elite group of young Air Force Officers on active duty at Wright Patterson's Material Central Laboratory on Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. (I found this chapter particularly interesting, as I'm a Dayton native and have had many relatives who worked on the base.)
The air base there has played a key role in the development of aeronautical technology for many years. This is where the Wright Brothers tested some of their early ideas at an area that became known as Wright Field.
Martin eventually made his way into the world of oil, money and politics, in Houston, Texas. Along with his great business success, came an inflated ego and a drinking problem. As so often happens, his wife, the mother of his children, got fed up and left him.
Upon "crashing and burning" the author finally had a spiritual awakening which was to change his life and put him back on solid ground.
This is an inspiring story of a man who was able to achieve great financial success, only to be felled by the bottle. By the grace of God, he was able to pick himself up and start a new way of life.
I am certainly not as "religious" as Martin, but I respect the fact that his profound beliefs are what have saved him and brought him to the place where he now has peace of mind and a successful second marriage.
This is the kind of book where I find myself wishing I could personally have a conversation with Martin. He has much to offer from his life experiences. I really related to his thoughts on having family scattered around the country and how difficult it can be to try and stay connected. It's a dilemma facing so many of our modern families.
There's much to be said for achieving twenty years of sobriety and for finding the insight and wisdom to rebuild a life. I found a lot to like in this book and can actually see a sequel to it. Very highly recommended reading.