My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“I didn’t want to live my entire life so afraid to die that I couldn’t live.”
This is an somewhat engaging work. It tells the story of Stanley A Weiss from his childhood throughout his life. And what a life it has been. Taking us through decades and name dropping a veritable list of who’s who, Weiss has really lived life to the maximum. Sometimes bordering on being a dried memorial, this is a memoir of a man unafraid to take chances and risk it all for success. The really intriguing part of this memoir is that searching for the older characters from decades ago tends to prove a waste of time. But as the decades roll down, the names become more familiar and the internet more accommodating.
Weiss doesn’t shy away from revealing that he wanted academic prestige and glory but didn’t want to work for it. A prime example being when he was allowed into the Harvard graduate school despite not having finished his undergrad degree and then got bent out of shape when told it would require at least two years of work to earn his doctorate. His concerns and refusal to commit to such a time frame turned to excitement when he was offered a fellowship at the Centre for International Affairs and that he wouldn’t have to do anything to merit the place.
To read the blurb selling this book you would think you were getting a self help manual of sorts.
“Most of us spend our lives talking ourselves out of things. But what could you accomplish if you never held yourself back?
What if, despite your fears, you went for broke every time?”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Stanley Weiss has lead a remarkable life, but there is precious little in it about truths that the reader can take and use in their own life. Anyone 45 or younger is unlikely to know most of the people he hobnobbed with, but this does change as the decades roll by when it becomes livelier and more meaningful.
Its clear that Weiss has been involved in many action groups, ranging from creating a new political party (short lived) to the formation of BENS (Business Executives for National Security) which is his calling card to the world. A great deal of time is spent on BENS, his creation and takes up a good quarter of the book.
This book shares intriguing insights into politicians and leaders around the world. He is unafraid to call it as he see’s it which can make for challenging reading. He sounds like he would be the life of the party but you’ better keep your liquor cabinet locked up! This is a detailed memoir that’s would benefit from an appendix to name and label all the people he has worked with. He shares the good with the bad from his business life and sounds like he had a bloody good time doing it. A poor boy made good, luck has definitely been on his side, but he has had a strong commitment to making positive changes in the world.
This makes for an interesting read, but nothing I couldn’t have gathered from his Wikipedia page. It is the story of an old man sharing his life’s stories. He’s lived a wild life and I guess the lesson to be learned is to ‘fake it till you make it’ and be willing to take risks whenever the opportunity arises.