I am enjoying Bill O’Reilly’s epic based upon a Fox News series, entitled Legends and Lies: The Patriots (Henry Holt, 2016). But, wait – Bill O’Reilly didn’t write the book! His name is featured on the book so it sells.
The author is actually David Fisher. He has a small line on the front cover, and an even smaller one on the spine. There is no pretense. The cover reads, “Written by David Fisher.”
Fisher is no novice to publishing. He is the author and coauthor of more than twenty New York Times bestsellers including another with O’Reilly, Legends and Lies: The Real West. His work has also appeared in most major magazines and many newspapers. The inside cover of the book claims that he is the only reporter ever given complete access to the FBI’s forensic library.
I find the book very readable, and one of the most interesting and detailed accounts of the events surrounding our nation’s early days and our fight for independence from Britain. I also believe it is refreshing when presumptions and possibilities are labeled for what they are, and not facts. There are detailed chapters on practically all of the nation’s first and finest, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and so forth.
Surely, this attention to detail is Fisher’s doing. I’ve never seen a commentator have to make so many retractions, clarifications, and admitted mistakes than O’Reilly, and still keep his job. You can go to Wikipedia to read a short list of them. Remember that CBS fired Dan Rather for misstating information about President Bush’s National Guard Service, following a lifetime of service. And O’Reilly gets how many chances? Of course, Fox News is not CBS.
Regardless, I think anyone with even passing interest in this era of our nation would find this a fun and educational read. I know that I have.
I won’t spoil the presentation next week at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, but if you attend, you will certainly find Rory Vaden‘s approach to time management very different from every traditional approach you have ever seen.
His premise is different, yet realistic. We all have the same amount of time. His idea is to ignore methods and tools you have heard about for years. These include prioritizing daily tasks, segmenting parts of your day into specific focused activities, and so forth. Rather, his focus is on understanding and coming to grips with the emotions that get in our way and preventing us from maximizing our time. To Vaden, time is not something you spend, but something you invest.
You will remember his previous blockbuster best-seller, Take the Stairs. Over time, Vaden has become one of the most popular and influential speakers and authors of our time.
As an award-winning entrepreneur and business leader, Rory Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting™, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries drive educated decisions with relevant data. He’s also the Founder of The Center for the Study of Self-Discipline (CSSD). Rory is the world’s leader on defining the psychology around modern day procrastination, called Priority Dilution™ – in fact, he coined the term. He speaks and consults on how to say no to the things that don’t matter, and yes to the things that do. His client list includes companies and groups such as: Cargill, The Million Dollar Roundtable, P&G, True Value, YPO, Wells Fargo Advisors, Land O’Lakes, Novartis, and hundreds more. His insights have recently been featured on/in: Fox News, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Inc, Fortune, and the New York Times. He is a regular contributor for American Express Open Forum, Huffington Post, and The Tennessean and his articles and insights average more than 4 million views every day.
For more, you need to attend the presentation on Friday. You will hear all about the five permissions.
I can promise you it will be a very different approach to managing time, from someone who is very different himself.
I will see you then!
As a disclaimer, I do not like Bill O’Reilly, nor his network, Fox News. You might, and that is just fine with me. I chose to become angry at his interview with President Obama before the Super Bowl, where he demonstrated poor questioning skills, poor probing skills, and abysmal listening skills. He was obviously more interested in making a scene for himself than providing a forum on issues for a national viewing audience. A quick review of his television career shows him to be a walking time-bomb, with explosive unsubstantiated commentary, often followed by apologies, corrections, and dissatisfying defenses delivered in a Howard Cosell-like manner. Yet, these are behaviors that make him popular, and create vast viewing audiences.
But, his three best-selling books are another matter. Henry Holt was the publisher of all of these. I have finished two of these, Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (2012), and Killing Jesus: A History (2013), and am now into a third, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (2011). As you see, that one was actually the first in the series. His co-author is Martin Dugard, a not-so-famous historian, who for all we know, may provide gravity to O’Reilly when he might otherwise stray from facts. The fourth, Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General, is due in September this year.
These are all highly readable accounts of famous history. I find them novel-like in their wording, pacing, and unfolding dramatics of events. He adds feelings to facts, and emotions are a strong appeal to his writing. All the books keep you focused, but also move you off-balance in a very positive way. You think you know what will come next, and it will, but not how you expect it. O’Reilly opens several windows as he writes, but not so many that you find yourself flipping back to review. Even his footnotes are interesting and explanatory. And, Iike many people, I don’t usually read footnotes.
The background and context are particularly strong elements. I am grateful, for example, that we are given a condensed review of ancient Roman and Judean history, including key events, characters, traditions, customs, geographies, among others, way before we even read about Jesus’ birth and brief time on earth. The writing is more appealing than even a visual imagery could provide.
I can tell you that I also read things in these books I have never seen before. If you read these, you may occasionally feel the same way. You might react with “I didn’t know that” or “oh, yeah?” Here are two I remember. The JFK-RFK interest in Marilyn Monroe is public knowledge, but I have never before read in such a strong and factually-appearing manner that JFK spent two consecutive nights with her in California. Tiberius was known as power-hungry and egotistical dictator, but I never knew that he swam with young boys who nibbled at him below the water. At minimum, I never remember studying that in Sunday School.
Years ago, I read the famous author, Jim Bishop, who wrote accounts of these same three. He called them The Day…. (Kennedy Died, Christ Died, Lincoln Died). They have been reprinted several times. They were good, but they are nothing like the O’Reilly accounts. Compared to the dynamism from O’Reilly, they seem static to me today.
Perhaps that may be due to the title. Note the word: “killing” begins each of his books. The use of the “ing” means that we are reading a process, not an event. “Kennedy killed” is an account. “Killing Kennedy” is a dynamic, in-action, unfolding of a story.
Put aside any feelings you may have about O’Reilly. If they are negative, don’t let that interfere with your access to these books. You will find your time well-spent by doing so.
And, I plan to order the Patton book when it is ready in September. If nothing else, I can read some new things and replace the George C. Scott image that seems to always be in my head.
Before I resumed going to church, every Sunday morning we would watch “This Week” on ABC, hosted by David Brinkley, with Sam Donaldson and George F. Will. Will, while a conservative and unexcited Republican, was always quick and to the point, and very knowledgeable about current affairs. A Chicago Cubs fan, while in working in Washington D.C., he was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He left ABC in 2013 to join Fox News. He usually wears a bow tie, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish one of those pictures.
He wrote one of the most influential books that I have read in my life, entitled Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball (New York: Macmillan, 1990). That book should be read by anyone who thinks baseball is just a game, and that players and managers are overpaid. The book demonstrated that this is game is not played by the “boys of summer,” but rather by men, applying intensive decision-making, examining complex variables, and exhibiting extraordinary skill in their jobs.
So, I anxiously awaited his next book about Chicago’s famed baseball yard. It is called A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred (New York: Crown Books, 2014). We can’t present it at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas because although it reached the best-seller lists, it is not a business book.
You can read a review of this book from the Wall Street Journal by clicking here. Joseph Epstien concludes that review with this:
George Will has achieved a fine balance in “A Nice Little Place on the North Side” between his heartfelt allegiance to the Chicago Cubs and his recognition of their status among sports fans as a national joke. As fodder for humor the Cubs have been inexhaustible. The morning after the Cubs lost the 1984 National League Championship Series to the Padres, owing in good part to Leon Durham, the team’s first baseman, allowing a dribbling grounder to go through his legs, I was shopping in my neighborhood grocery store. The owner asked if I had heard about Leon Durham’s attempted suicide. “Really?” I asked, genuinely shocked. “He stepped out in front of a bus,” the man said, “but it went through his legs.” Lots of laughs, those Cubs, and, as George Will neatly puts it, “a lifelong tutorial in deferred gratification.”
From Amazon.com, where it is # 1 on the sports best-selling list and # 224 in overall books, you can read this summary:
Winding beautifully like Wrigley’s iconic ivy, Will’s meditation on “The Friendly Confines” examines both the unforgettable stories that forged the field’s legend and the larger-than-life characters—from Wrigley and Ruth to Veeck, Durocher, and Banks—who brought it glory, heartbreak, and scandal. Drawing upon his trademark knowledge and inimitable sense of humor, Will also explores his childhood connections to the team, the Cubs’ future, and what keeps long-suffering fans rooting for the home team after so many years of futility. In the end, A Nice Little Place on the North Side is more than just the history of a ballpark. It is the story of Chicago, of baseball, and of America itself.
Who hasn’t seen outfielders diving after a ball into the famous ivy on the outfield wall? Or the story about Steve Bartman, who on October 14, 2003, allegedly interfered with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou catching a foul ball, extending an inning and opening the gates for an 8-run watershed for the Florida Marlins in a playoff game? Or, hearing about first baseman Ernie Banks, who excitedly would proclaim, “let’s play two.” Or, all the controversies and barriers to renovating the park for a more modern and comfortable appearance?
Forget politics. Forget what you think about George Will’s philosophy, opinions, and dress. Immerse yourself in this book. You will be a better fan. You will also find something else to reference about an American icon. The stories here are abundant. Wrigley field is certainly not one of the wonders of the world, but its loyal fans who are accustomed to losing and tight quarters to watch baseball games, are a unique part of American culture.