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This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women Hardcover – October 3, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the This I Believe Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the 1950s, the Edward R. Murrow–hosted radio program This I Believe prompted Americans to briefly explain their most cherished beliefs, be they religious or purely pragmatic. Since the program's 2005 renaissance as a weekly NPR segment, Allison (the host) and Gediman (the executive producer) have collected some of the best essays from This I Believe then and now. "Your personal credo" is what Allison calls it in the book's introduction, noting that today's program is distinguished from the 1950s version in soliciting submissions from ordinary Americans from all walks of life. These make up some of the book's most powerful and memorable moments, from the surgeon whose illiterate mother changed his early life with faith and a library card to the English professor whose poetry helped him process a traumatic childhood event. And in one of the book's most unusual essays, a Burmese immigrant confides that he believes in feeding monkeys on his birthday because a Buddhist monk once prophesied that if he followed this ritual, his family would prosper. There are luminaries here, too, including Gloria Steinem, Warren Christopher, Helen Keller, Isabel Allende, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Updike and (most surprisingly, considering the book's more liberal bent) Newt Gingrich. This feast of ruminations is a treat for any reader. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

National Public Radio listeners have been moved to tears by the personal essays that constitute the series This I Believe. Created in 1951 with Edward Murrow as host, the sometimes funny, often profound, and always compelling series has been revived, according to host Jay Allison, because, once again, "matters of belief divide our country and the world." Oral historian Studs Terkel kicks things off, and 80 personal credos follow. Essays from the original series are interleaved with contemporary essays (selected from more than 11,000 submissions) to create a resounding chorus. English professor Sara Adams avers that one should "be cool to the pizza delivery dude." John McCain states, "I believe in honor, faith, and service." Iranian-born writer Azar Nafisi writes, "I believe in empathy." Jackie Robinson said, "I believe in the goodness of a free society." Rick Moody believes in "the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading." Appendixes offer guidelines and resources because the urge to write such declarations is contagious, and schools and libraries have been coordinating This I Believe programs, which we believe is a righteous endeavor. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: This I Believe
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805080872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080872
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I've been working too much lately, getting into my car at night with my head still swimming about all the things that are going on at the office. I try not to get like this, but sometimes, especially at this time of year, it's hard not to. Someone sent me a copy of an interesting audiobook though and I wanted to share a bit about it with you. Listening to it in 15 minute snippets on the way to and from work these past few weeks has turned me around.

If you're a public radio junkie, the series it's based on is probably old news to you. It's called "This I Believe" and it's a compilation of essays from individuals writing about what they believe in. Very simple concept. The people who have written essays are young and old, famous and not, successful and not, religious and not. There are some from the 1950s, some from 2006. I'm finding that spending a few minutes on my drive to and from work every day where I stop thinking about what happened today or what needs to happen tomorrow does me good as a person. Some of them made me cry (probably more than I should admit) and some made me laugh. Some I fast-forward through b/c I've no interest in the topic - but with 80 distinct essays to listen to, you can fwd through quite a few and still have lots to listen to.

You might be one of those people who is going to think this is smarmy, a little too saccharin or otherwise not as clever as you'd like -- but you should at least listen to a couple of excerpts. You may be surprised by the range of this collection - there are essays on the belief in science and math and the written word; others about kindness and hope and family; some on pizza delivery drivers and good barbecue and feeding monkeys on your birthday.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Clearly, I'm in the minority on this one. But this book just didn't work for me at all. It seems like such a promising concept, too - "based on the NPR series of the same name, 80 essayists - from the famous to the previously unknown - complete the thought that begins the book's title".

But the result is - despite being a bestseller - a dreadful book. If I had checked it out in a bookstore, rather than buying it here on Amazon, I might have figured it out from the back cover. Here are the four 'quotes from inside' that the publishers use as a teaser:

"I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it." Jackie Robinson.
"I believe in empathy." Azar Nafisi.
"I believe in the pursuit of happiness. Not its attainment, nor its final definition, but its pursuit." Andrew Sullivan.
"Be cool to the pizza delivery dude; it's good luck". Sarah Adams.

Well, yes. Am I supposed to argue with any of these noble sentiments? Hardly (though I might suggest a different justification for being cool to the pizza delivery dude than trying to generate future good karma). But it's precisely the completely unobjectionable, generally safe nature of the assorted beliefs expressed in the book that make it - and I may burn in hell for this - a major YAWN. If you crack open the book and can wade through some of the most mind-numbingly pompous prose imaginable, there are further nuggets to be gleaned:

Benjamin Carson believes that "there is no job more important than parenting".
William F.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first received my copy of "This I Believe," I had no idea that it was actually from a popular 1950s radio show of the same name. Originally, "This I Believe" was hosted by Edward R. Murrow. It was aired throughout the United States and became so popular that two volumes of the essays were published and hit the Top-10 Bestseller's list for three years.

It was easy to become hooked as I read the first essay, and though some of the essays are 50 years old, they are still very relevent to what we are going through now as individuals and as a society.

The essays (of which there are 79) are 3-4 pages each and are essentially a brief outline of why the writer has a particular belief. The essays are personal stories which are written in a positive manner without being judgmental, preachy or obnoxious.

Some of the more well known writers include: William F. Buckley, Jr., Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Bill Gates and Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame).

In the "Afterward" written by Dan Gediman, he explains the history of the famous radio show and how he was inspired to put together a book of some of the more famous essays from the show, while including some new essays from both famous and unknown writers of our day.

The appendix includes the original introduction of the radio show "This I Believe" by Edward R. Murrow, how to write your own "This I Believe" essay, and suggestions on how to use "This I Believe" in your own community. They also challenge you to write your own "This I Believe" essay and send it in to their website [...]

"This I Believe" is thoughtful, inspiring and thought provoking. It would provide invaluable insights and topics for those interested in public speaking or blogging.
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