Tag Archives: sexism

When the Men Were Gone

when the men were gone

When the Men Were Gone: A Novel by Marjorie Herrera Lewis (William Morrow, $26.99/$15.99, 240 pages)

When the Men Were Gone, based on a true story, is Marjorie Herrera Lewis’ debut novel about Tylene Wilson, an assistant principal at a Texas high school who takes over the school’s football team during World War II, when all of the men are either at war or returning home dead.

Wilson has grown up an avid fan and shares many childhood memories with her father, but when she steps up to make sure the boys get one last chance to play football before the war comes calling, she is seen in a less than favorable light by many of the locals.  Her heroic gesture is met more with scorn than gratitude, because “everybody knows” that coaching football in Texas is clearly a man’s job.

When Wilson finally clears the imminent hurdles with her principal and the school board, the team takes the field for its first game against a powerhouse program in front of a full house with reporters from hours away descending upon Brownwood, Texas.

It turns out that Wilson does know what she’s doing, and Lewis tells both an inspiring and enjoyable story.  She does well to avoid too much commentary and simply leads the reader through the thoughts and actions of the characters, bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.

The book, however, is arguably a bit too lean at less than 250 pages.  Its primary drawback is that a little more meat at times could have made for a better, more complete story.  This does not seem to have been the goal for Lewis, but more could have been done to shore up the characters and plot.

Lewis herself covered the Dallas Cowboys for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and endured some taunting from some insiders before winning them over.  She went on to join the Texas Wesleyan University football staff.  Though not autobiographical, Lewis apparently relied upon her knowledge and personal experiences to lend credibility to the inspiring account.

Well recommended.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.  When the Men Were Gone will be released in hardbound and trade paper versions on October 2, 2018.

Dave Moyer is the Superintendent of Schools for the Elmhurst Unit District 205 public school district, located just north of Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel about baseball, love and Bob Dylan.

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Big Girls Don’t Cry

The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhaun

This book is a take on helping women in the business world to break through the so-called glass ceiling.   The key is to use a male-oriented approach in the workplace – it’s business, not personal.   Author Shaunti Feldhaun goes to great lengths to establish her credentials and the sampling methodology she and her team used to produce this book.   She also touts her wildly successful career as a consultant; a bit of overkill.   During this disclosure, Feldhaun emphasizes majority versus minority responses to her carefully crafted written survey that forms the basis for many of her conclusions.   At the outset, the reader is repeatedly offered allusions to the findings in later chapters.   These allusions are not the least bit tantalizing.

The world featured in this book is acknowledged as private sector; there was no exploration of the public sector – government.   This is a shortcoming, for government and its employees, albeit civil servants, factor mightily in the economy of the United States.   Many opportunities for female advancement exist in this sector.   Although civil service is dominated by testing and exam rankings, the interview and subsequent probation period following a hire determine whether women are upwardly mobile (just as is the case in the private sector).

The version of the book being reviewed here is the “Christian” one.   It contains many references to workplaces that are operated as Christian enterprises or Christian male employers and coworkers in secular businesses.   Feldhaun over generalizes and portrays Christians in a homogenous way that is presumptuous.   The “Christian” community is comprised of many permutations and is no more alike than an “Asian” or “Muslim” community.

The men who graciously agreed to being interviewed by Ms. Feldhaun (her own characterization) come off as strangely schizophrenic, following one set of norms at the office and another during their personal lives.   Apparently, because the workplace was established by men, the rules are not going to change.   Women, particularly those who she views as most in need of reading this book, are chastised for not perceiving the difference.

There are ample references to scientific studies that established the differences between male brain activity and female brain activity.   Males are described as 100% focused and not able to multi-task, while women are eager, willing and able to lay the groundwork, illustrate the concept and come to a conclusion while performing multiple activities.   No kidding!   Anyone can easily use this finding to justify why human males do not bear the babies or provide their nourishment for the first few months.

There are italicized comments placed at what the reader assumes are teachable moments in each section of the book; however, they are repetitive extracts from the immediately preceding text.   While these statements are obviously intended to be pearls of wisdom and learning points, they come off as slogans or watchwords to use on business trendy flashcards.

Sadly, a reader who would most benefit from the best parts of this book (yes, there are some) is not only fully committed to her view of the “good old boys’ network,” she is too emotional to wade through the dry narrative.   A lost opportunity but two stars for the attempt.

Review by Ruta Arellano.   This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House.

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Another Book Giveaway!

Yes, we’re still giving away three (3) copies of the amazing book Double Take: A Memoir.   The Double Take  book giveaway contest remains open until midnight this Friday, January 8, 2010 Pacific Standard Time (PST).   To read the contest rules, enter the terms “double take” in the Search It! box to the right and hit enter.

But we’re here announcing a new book giveaway!   Through the courtesy of the publisher Multnomah, we have a copy of The Male Factor: The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions, and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace for one of our readers.Here is a synopsis of the book –

Among the subjects tackled by The Male Factor are: how men, with rare exceptions, view almost any emotional display as a sign that the person can no longer think clearly – as well as what they perceive to be emotion in the first place (it’s not just crying); why certain trendy clothes that women wear may create a career-sabotaging land mine in terms of how male colleagues perceive them; and the unintentional signals that can change a man’s perception of a woman from assertive and competent to difficult.

Women will likely be surprised, even shocked, by these revelations.   Some may find them challenging.   Yet what they will gain is an invaluable understanding of how their male bosses, colleagues, subordinates, and customers react to a host of situations – as well as the ability to correct common misperceptions.   The Male Factor offers a unique road map to what men in the workplace are thinking, allowing women the opportunity to decide for themselves how to use the insights the author reveals.

Note:  I suspect that this is a book that both men and women will find to be extremely interesting!

We will be giving away one brand new hardbound copy of this 320-page book by Shaunti Feldhahn, author of the  prior bestseller For Women Only.   The Male Factor has a value of $22.99.   In order to enter this contest, just send an e-mail to josephsreviews@gmail.com .   You must submit your entry by 12:00 midnight PST on Saturday, January 30, 2010.   Only readers who live in the continental United States are eligible to enter this particular contest and prior contest winners at this site will not be eligible to win this time around.  

That’s it – Good luck and good reading!

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Animal Crackers in My Soup: Tell Me Where It Hurts

The complete title of this book is Tell Me Where It Hurts:  A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon.   This is about as long as the book itself, which is an easy and fast read.   Such is the good news.   The bad news is that, well, there’s not a lot here…

This is supposed to be a chronicle of a single day in a large animal hospital, but that’s just the pretense.   It’s immediately clear that the book is filled with the stories of animal and panicked owner interactions that occurred months and years earlier.   So why pretend that it’s about “24 hours in a pet hospital”?

The stories are more anecdotes than detailed stories, and often relate to how Dr. Trout assisted some poor young (in experience if not actual years) and confused resident.   There’s not enough detail to create real tension, which makes the reader wonder why this book has been sold as an animal-world version of the television show House?   Perhaps it is because Dr.  Trout appears to be a man of ego.

Another concern is that although it is a Target Bookmarked Breakout selection, there is more than a bit of sexism in how the good Dr. relates to women.   Was this supposed to be humorous or sarcastic or something else?

Instead of spending $14.00 or so for this collection of quick hit-and-miss tales, I’d advise animal lovers to instead consider ordering a classic that was written by a veterinarian back in 1980.   That book is All My Patients Are Under the Bed by the late Dr. Louis J. Camuti, which is full of charming tales and in which the doctor’s love for his feline patients was absolutely and completely transparent.   As a sign of the relevance of All My Patients… it is currently available as a trade paperback (Fireside, $14.00) that can be ordered via Amazon or your independent book seller.

As to Tell Me Where It Hurts, I found it to be not serious enough to be memorable and not humorous enough to be truly enjoyable.   Frankly, it was more than a mystery to me.   I’m still confused…   If I were asked to describe it in 10 words or less, I’d say “Cute, but not cute enough.”

Joseph Arellano

Note:   This book was purchased by the reviewer.

it hurts

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