Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ralph Nader's The Seventeen Traditions

The Seventeen Traditions by Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader has written a book for the parents of young children. He has written a book for the citizens, the feminists, the activists, the immigrants, the grandparents, and the people who believe our children are the future.

Even though this book is shelved with other biographies of Ralph Nader, this meditation on the forces that shape an individual is more than simply a life story. He acknowledges that when he is asked about his influences, he replies "I had a lucky choice of parents." but for his lucky readers, he expands on that answer here.

What shapes the mind, the personality, the character of a person? The seventeen traditions that Ralph Nader identified in his own family are outlined through simple prose that is memorable and moving. As Mr. Nader recounts the wisdom of his parents, his siblings, his family, and the life lessons they imparted throughout his youth and his life, he teaches by example. While he makes some references to the endemic problems in modern society and implies his disapproval to the overabundance of flashy products marketed by the parenting industry, he leaves the application of these traditions to individual families and never stoops to direct instructions or advice on childrearing. An engaged booklover will read slowly to savor each tradition (one per brief chapter) and take away unexpected life lessons. In my case, I also came away with a huge appreciation for my own upbringing (thanks daddy, thanks mama!)

I'm not an unbiased reviewer - I choose this book because I already admired the author - but I believe that this book has appeal for a diverse readership outside of particular political parties or worldviews. If anything, this is a biography of an entire immigrant family who has succeeded in nurturing several productive and contributing members of our society. With a strong message of the strength of extended families and the importance of passing on values, ethics, wisdom and beliefs through parental example, Ralph Nader's The Seventeen Traditions will educate, enlighten and entertain.


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