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Family Man: The Biography of Dr. James Dobson Hardcover – September 23, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dr. James Dobson is a man without secrets, according to this biographer; Dobson's life and beliefs are open for all to see in his speeches and writings. Now readers get a well-rounded and thorough look at this evangelical leader whose books Dare to Discipline and The Strong-Willed Child are influencing a second generation of parents. Buss does a masterful job of weaving together the many facets of Dobson's life and career as gleaned through interviews with family, friends, business associates and Dobson himself. Readers will learn of Dobson's early life as the child of an itinerant evangelist, his courtship and relationship with his wife Shirley, his first career as a psychologist and medical research program administrator, and the birth and growth of Focus on the Family. The struggles are there as well: Dobson's workaholic tendencies, recent health scares, and Focus leadership issues. Especially interesting is information on Dobson's interview with convicted serial killer Ted Bundy and Buss's assessment of Dobson's political influence and aspirations. The book is filled with Dobson's trademark humor, but also his religious convictions and concern for the endangered modern family. This is no light read for folks interested in a little dirt on Dobson; it is a meticulously researched examination of one of the most influential modern evangelical Christians.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

About halfway through this sympathetic biography, one of Dobson's associates says that Dobson isn't "trying to win political position or social approval." That's right, and how ironic. For Dobson is very highly approved by his admirers, and there are enough of them to make him crucial to many real politicians for getting and holding their positions. As the premier voice of the Christian Right, he has helped many Republicans into office and one very prominent Democrat, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, out. The only son of a Church of the Nazarene preacher, Dobson has a doctorate in child psychology, not divinity, and although he calls Focus on the Family, the organization he founded, a ministry, it is a service agency dispensing Christian-oriented psychological counsel to groups and individuals via speakers, books, recorded media, and Dobson's weekday half-hour radio program bearing the ministry's name. He has been successful from childhood on--talented athlete, scholarship-winning student, valued university hospital faculty member, writer, and speaker--yet is devoted to his convictions far more than his career (in 25-plus years, he has never taken a salary from Focus). Buss covers Dobson's most famous activities--his death-row interview with Ted Bundy, his ardent lobbying of Congress and the GOP on issues affecting the family and marriage, his advocacy of candidates he deems family friendly, and his current campaign to put strict constructionists on the Supreme Court--more fully than his leadership of Focus, but that makes the book cook. All friendly introductions to such controversial figures should be as readable and enlightening. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; 1st edition (September 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0842381910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842381918
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,248,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Buss weaves together Dobson's life in an appealing manner, drawing upon the intimiate details that only an official biographer could obtain. He frames the narrative with a discussion of Dobson's recent political role, opening with a series of sketches from the most recent election and closing with the same influence in the present day. The tale carries itself with the theme that Dobson's storied history has prepared him for the new role he'll play the rest of his days.

Buss begins with a series of chronological chapters detailing Dobson's early years - his childhood, his parents, his time at USC, his plunge into ministry. The book then sets the pace with a stunning chapter on Dobson's interview with Ted Bundy - Dobson describes the spiritual implications of this encounter, how he dealt with media ridicule, and the lessons learned from that experience. The book then cooks, with each chapter devoted to a particular aspect of Dobson's life - his wife, his children, his health, elements of Focus on the Family, and so on.

Buss keeps a healthy mix of the profound and the lighthearted. We learn about Dobson's heart attack, stroke, and cancer; his difficulty micromanaging; and the details of friends who turned on him, and his enemies who listen to him. At the same time, we learn how Dobson likes to play basketball (usually tossing his tall frame against his opponents) and what his favorite snack foods are (in short, fattening, to the chagrin of his family).

Dobson and his staff don't seem to be afraid of admitting to their weaknesses, and Buss doesn't pull punches when quoting some of the critics of Dobson and his ministry.
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Format: Hardcover
In the late 1980s I read DR. DOBSON: Turning Hearts Toward Home, by Rolf Zettersten, who at the time was the Executive Vice President for Focus on the Family. While that biography presented Dr. Dobson's life chronologically, Dale Buss, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, takes a more creative approach when writing about the life of one of the major evangelical leaders.

The opening chapter of FAMILY MAN begins with the 2004 election season and Dr. Dobson's impact on the outcome. From the initial pages, Buss establishes James Dobson as a person who is impacting the culture and his world each and every day. "Clearly he [Dr. Dobson] played a major role in this election," close friend Chuck Colson says. "More than anyone else, he mobilized the evangelical base." Buss then examines his family background and history, along with his relationship with his cousin, Dr. H.B. London, and his marriage to Shirley Deere. The early influences of his family, his faith and his education continue to play into how Dr. Dobson operates today, predominately through the multifaceted ministry of Focus on the Family.

The remainder of the book touches on different themes in Dr. Dobson's life, such as his roles as an author, broadcaster, advocate for the family, and even his influence in politics. Throughout, Buss mixes personal interviews with careful research and seemingly has wide access to interview Dr. Dobson, his wife and their two children, along with various other family members, friends, and staffers (current and former) at Focus on the Family.

The emerging picture from these pages is a human yet remarkable life. We learn about two health scares that Dr. Dobson had not disclosed before this book. It was interesting to learn how President Ronald Reagan wooed Dr.
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Format: Hardcover
Timely read, as Dr. Dobson continues to be on the foreground of political and social issues. Nice to read the positive side of this driven man, as media sources tend to color him more darkly. Should be interesting for both supporters and criticizers of this famous man.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not too much to say here, the book says it all. Dr. Dobson is an amazing man. Sometimes I wonder just how he keeps going, he is so busy and has so many people looking up to him at at him for advice. (myself included) Grab yourself a copy and you won't be able to put it down. *****
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent Bio on a wonderful man who has helped provide the tools necessary to strengthen families and parents.

Definitely a keeper for my library.
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