Number of Pages: 210
Publication Date: February 18, 2016
Rating: out of 5
OBC Rating: 2 out of 4 stars
*This was part of the OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day Program and is reviewed for the Blogger Review Program*
In this series of essays, author Katz explores the ways of coping with situations in our daily lives. Taking examples throughout history, the author attempts to pull these seemingly different scenarios to explain how humans have always been able to cope in difficult and challenging circumstances.
This read discusses cults, false messiahs, religion, and war, among other subjects.
Okay, I am going to be very honest here – this read wasn’t for me. I’m going to try to be as objective as possible, but this is not one that I enjoyed very much.
Let’s, of course, start with the positives. I like how Katz pulls in examples of how people deal with challenging situations. This includes the traumatic Holocaust, Stalin’s reign, the genocide of Rwanda, the allure of cults, and others. He includes explanations of Milgram’s experiment in regards to obedience to authority, which leans to how people can “easily” follow such horrific orders in killing and/or torturing people. All of these aspects of the book, I really enjoyed. I not only felt I was learning, but it was thought-provoking.
On the other hand, the main issue I had with this book was the writing style. I felt it was sometimes inaccessible, repetitive, and inconsistent. For example, you can find a quote like this:
“The focus has been on how equilibrium is being maintained through deviation-counteracting processes within a system, where the parts of the system influence each other in ways that keep deviation in check.” (loc. 2085)
Then, a quote like this one:
“Were their successes—-their awards, their financial influences—-telling them that they were dancing on the graves of their loved ones?” (loc. 2299)
The first one was part of the book that I just found overwhelming and confusing. I felt I lost the sight of the topic, which could be because I don’t have a degree in psychology. The second quote, speaking about why survivors of traumatic experiences commit suicide, is the part of the book I enjoyed more. It was more reflective, simple to understand yet thought-provoking.
The only other aspect that I felt could have improved is the physical structure of the book. Most times the author liked to use “—-” as a way to explain certain terms or thoughts. However, it became quite frustrating when I tried to look up the definition on my Kindle because it didn’t recognize any of the words that were surrounded and touched these four dashes.
Overall, if this read was more accessible, more consistent, and if the formatting was different, then I could see myself enjoying this read more.