Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Ambition ,The secret Passion by Joseph Epstein

1.Title of the book:Ambition , The Secret Passion
2.Author               :Joseph Epstein
3.Publisher            :Elephant Paperbacks ,Ivan R.Dee,Inc.,Publisher ,Chicago
4.Copyright           :@1980 ,Joseph Epstein
5.ISBN                   :0-929587-18-9
6.Format                 :Elephant Paperback
7.Page count           :312
8.Price                       :$ 18.90
9.Genre                   : General
10.Part of Series       :No
11.Rating                  :***

Is it good to be ambitious? Or does  ambition fuel self-promotion and  getting ahead ?Why are some persons more ambitious while others are not? These are some of the questions which led me to this book. 
       Epstein defines ambition as the fuel of achievement.But he also says:"If life is to be more spiritual , more tender-minded and large- hearted , ambition clearly must go.Or so it is said."But in the same breath , he also says that  "If people are to retain  the energy that ambition can give --and as Dreiser writes in Sister Carrie ,"there is nothing so inspiring in life  as the sight of a legitimate ambition , no matter how incipient"-then a clearer view is needed about what ambition is and what it entails."
     "Moderation", says la Rochefoucauld ,"is languor and idleness of the soul , ambition is its activity and energy". But neither , it must be added , is ours an age noted for moderation.The middle class has from the beginning run on ambition .In the end , forming our own destiny is what ambition is about.
Epstein's examples of  eminent Americans  Benjamin Franklin , Henry Ford , Edith Wharton , F. Scott Fitzerald, Adlai Stevenson, Rockfeller, Guggenheim, and Kennedys  make a fascinating reading to illustrate how they achieved their secret passion (ambition).
   Epstein in his book  gives a spirited defence of ambition  which has been given a bad name by some.To discourage ambition , says Epstein , "is to discourage dreams of grandeur and  greatness".But he says  nothing    original in support of his stand .The  book is a broad sweep but he catches nothing  to  show. In many cases the fuel of achievement has also been the engine of destruction.Though the book is full of many interesting sides of eminent personalities , and  perhaps  that makes it  worthwhile to read , it lacks intellectual substance to clearly convince us what it says .Most of the spiritual books  guide us to be moderate and less ambitious . Epstein has tried to make a case for ambition   but has not really succeeded.
           "Thinking about ambition ", he says ," has caused me to disregard  the notion that our final judgment  about the men and women of history  hangs on the question of whether  we should like to dine with them".