3 out of 4 stars
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The American Dream is the belief that success is within the reach of any American citizen who works hard for it and tackles challenges to achieve it. However, additional obstacles that many Americans face on account of their race, gender, socioeconomic status, and other societal factors have caused some citizens to despair of ever realizing the American Dream for themselves. In Playing From Behind, author Robert Head explains how social disadvantages over which people have no control do not preclude them from seeing the fulfillment of their dreams and goals in the United States.
In this book, the author outlines eight lessons he has learned over the course of his life that have helped to propel him to success, especially where his career in education is concerned. To illustrate how personal disadvantages can become a person’s motivation, the author gives an account of his family history, his upbringing, and his experiences while living and working in America as an African American man. In language that is clear and positive, the author makes a case for how one’s passion, commitment, education, and imagination can lead from envisioning one’s American Dream to actually living it.
While the eight life lessons the author shares are rather straightforward, this book is not a comprehensive or step-by-step guide for readers to follow. The author gives information and inspiration on a conceptual level, and he points out some ways his lessons have applied to his life, but he does not share his eight lessons in a progressive order. The book does not include questions or exercises to help readers process and personalize the information for their individual circumstances. Hence, figuring out where to start applying the lessons in the book may be more challenging for some readers than for others.
Also, the particular audience or generation the author means to target is not altogether obvious. Much of the book’s content may be best for young adults who have not yet reached the age and opportunity to go to college. However, the author seems to be speaking to an older and perhaps more experienced audience at times. It is possible that readers of different ages or levels of experience may not find the book to be equally applicable in some ways. Moreover, it is unclear if the book is equally meant for people who will or have gone to college and those who have or wish to take a noncollegiate route toward their purpose. On a technical note, the book has a number of minor errors and inconsistencies, particularly errors in punctuation.
Overall, this is an affirmative work that can motivate disadvantaged American citizens to overcome obstacles in their path to reach their goals toward success. Even so, the book could possibly have been more helpful to a greater number of readers if it had provided more specific or sequential points of action for those who may need some added help in turning concepts into practical steps. Therefore, I give Playing From Behind a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to readers looking for a foundation of inspiration concerning the attainability of the American Dream.
Playing From Behind
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