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The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: Thirty Truths about Fear and Courage Hardcover – April 10, 2012

3.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Spirituality & Practice, “A Best Spiritual Book of the Year,” 2012

Philadelphia
Tribune, 4/27/12|
“[An] unflinching look at fear.” 

Spirituality and Practice
“A hard-hitting and timely collection of essays by a passionate elder whose criticism of our culture is right on target.”
 
InfoDad.com, 5/17/12
“[A] study of fear and courage, whose chapters are headed with particularly intriguing quotations.”
 
“The Bookworm Sez” column, 6/25/12
“Dr. Livingston writes with conviction and a no-nonsense manner. His thoughts are well-conceived, they make sense and they’re empowering. His words offer the hope about which he writes, and that’s very comforting…The Thing You Cannot Do takes no prisoners, accepts no whining, and it won’t make friends. But if you’re stuck in life and need a nudge, reading it may be the best thing you can do.”

BP Magazine
, Summer 2012
“Stresses the importance of facing the boundaries fear imposes by following clear-cut steps to cultivate courage.”

Bookviews.com, August 2012
“There is an antidote to fear. It is courage. It’s there inside of you and this book will help you tap into it.”

San Francisco Book Review / Sacramento Book Review
, 8/9/12
“If you are serious about wanting to overcome a fear of something that is hampering your current situation—your life, your love-life, your family-life, whatever—and you have good comprehension of what you read, then you could reasonably expect to improve some part of yourself, if you read one chapter a day…This book is full of wisdom in small, easily absorbed chunks, on a variety of topics…Dr. Livingston is not a stranger to the frailties of the rest of us, and thus his words carry more weight than most such compilations.”

Midwest Book Review
, August 2012
“Shows how fear can become debilitating—and what to do about it.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews,10/9/12
“Livingston has something worth saying…[He] communicates plainly and with ease…This is a book of trenchant observation, with some arresting insights by a thoughtful and humane observer…Livingston has a lot to teach us.”

Portland Book Review, 6/20/12
“Challenges readers to analyze and contemplate their lives…This book will appeal to the readers who wish to reflect upon personal beliefs and actions in order to gain greater inner strength.”

About the Author

Gordon Livingston, MD, a graduate of West Point who was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam, is a psychiatrist and writer who contributes frequently to the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Baltimore Sun. He lives and works in Columbia, Maryland.
 
 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073821552X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738215525
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The back cover says: "What are we afraid of and what can we do about it?"

That isn't accurate. Gordon Livingston spends no time talking about what you or I as a person can do to break through the fears. It seemed like he spent more time complaining and asserting his beliefs on society rather than offering solutions. I finished wondering what the point of the book was. I was expecting something more *self-help* after all that's the section it was in, but it wasn't.

It's a commentary on how fear affects our culture. Livingston is smart, and he wrote the book well, but he doesn't provide any strategies or comprehensive strategies for the problems he lays out.

It's a problem book, not a solution book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you tend to view the world in absolutes and bring a hard-right wing agenda to your thinking, you need to read this book but probably won't like what it has to say. It is not a political book per se but certainly challenges the ethics of our leaders and the use of fear to subvert our individual and collective thinking. Dr. Livingston is an excellent writer, thinker and I am most grateful for all his writing. It has brought me comfort and clarity at the worst moments of my life.
This book touches on our national and individual anxieties and fears. How we are affected by it, the antidote and he rightly points out that there is only the thinnest of lines between how we behave as a collective society and personally. Perhaps that is why much of the book focuses of what fear has wrought in America (for example the highest percentage of people incarcerated in prisons in the world). Read this book or any book by Gordon Livingston and you will be better for it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started off the book with high hopes and expectations that are usually instilled by this author. But, this book is more about his beliefs as to what's wrong with American politics. The main thread is about one person's issues with the system and politicians and very little on positive thinking, self help, etc., regarding fear and courage.

Sadly, he comes across as a cranky, old man who needed to vent.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Gordon Livingston's books but found this one particularly timely, although I would guess it won't be everyone's cup of tea since he tackles a few touchy subjects, including religion. I appreciate his candor and honesty. It's a book that I started re-reading as soon as I finished reading it the first time. Dr. Livingston's wisdom is hard-earned and worth paying attention to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love ALL of Dr. Livingston's books, but this one left me disappointed. I'm not sure that the title is relevant to the book at all. This book only contains rants and observations about life and people. I found it rather depressing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a great fan of Dr. Livingston's books. I read them repeatedly and give them as gifts to my children and friends. This latest one is different. I have trouble sorting through his message and he seems to be grinding a political axe with arguments that are as easily applied to liberals as to the conservative that he targets. Having said that, get a copy and see for yourself. Maybe you'll think it's great.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though I am a progressive liberal who might agree with many of his sentiments, I found this to be a rant that became repetitious and failed to discuss the makings of true courage. A disappointment.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be more depressing than edifying. I am not familiar with the author but I get a sense that he has pretty much given up on life. I admit that I have only read 60 pages, but I find it impossible to continue without having access to mood-enhancing drugs. I have thrown the book in the garbage so I do not have to fear that someone else would read it and sink into a depressive state.
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