Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study by George E. Vaillant
This was quite an academic non-fiction read that offered interesting sociological insights though. While the topic is not obscure, the content and style of this work is not suitable for most readers. it does have aspects and deals with: psychology, sociology, gender, culture, alcoholism, health, epidemiology, qualitative research, and the book was motivational at times.
The lives of the men were sometimes very inspiring and fascinating. The author does make a point that optimism, hope, nurture, and good social relationships do enrich our lives. On the opposite ends, alcoholism is one of the worse things for relationships and health.
Every time I picked this book up, I found it difficult to go back because Once I read it more, I was engrossed with the lives of the men in the study and the findings. Lately, I have been doing research work in my job and it’s always been something I like to improve on. I find the focus on questionnaires, blind studies, and other techniques interesting as well. Obviously, this would not be the case for most readers.
The study is also focussed on men who, for the most part, have achieved the best of the best of the world. They are definitely the top 5% of the world in terms of income, education, and opportunities. Not to mention the fact that the study was all male and all Anglo-Saxon or “white”. Still, it’s interesting reading because I think some of the things the study elaborates on is universal.
The message of the book is positive and reinforces my own views about human interactions. It’s a fascinating study and I’m glad I was able to read more about it.
Read January 13-27, 2015