David Horowitz's moving new memoir might just make you a better person.
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Reprinted from powerlineblog.com.
This book opens with April in May. April is David Horowitz’s wife, April Horowitz, and the month is May 2014. Succeeding chapters take us through September 2014. As the book opens, Horowitz struggles with physical infirmity following a botched surgery and his wife is recovering from a near fatal automobile accident. These two tragedies have an aspect of lucky timing. April’s recovery coincides with David’s infirmity; she is able to lend him a hand in his efforts to recover. At the intersection of his misfortune and her recovery, after twenty years of marriage, husband and wife find their passion for each other rekindled.
As the author himself notes, his new book is the fourth in a series of meditations on life and death in memoir form. Previous installments include The End of Time (2005), A Cracking of the Heart (2009) and A Point In Time (2011). Each of the books explores life and death in memoiristic form. The mortality of concern in the second of these books is that of Horowitz’s daughter Sarah, a prodigy of good works, prematurely dead at the age of 44. Sarah haunts the pages of this new book as well. She appears never to be far from the thoughts of the author.
The lineage of Horowitz’s memoiristic explorations can be traced back to his classic autobiography, Radical Son (1998), to which Horowitz also refers in the text of the new book. As anyone who has read Radical Son or any of the other books recalls, Horowitz is an introspective, self-critical, searching memoirist. His journey remains incomplete. He doubts the authority of any answer offered as final. If he is not himself necessarily in search new answers to old questions, he keeps an open mind to the possibility of discoveries. A lion in winter at the age of 75, he retains the spirit of a young man in more ways than one. His ripe old age now allows for a look back on a very full life in this most engaging memoir.
No one can be harder on Horowitz than he is on himself. “I should have been a better husband and father and friend,” he writes. “I want to believe that the man I am now would have done better. But while my thoughts can travel back in time, I cannot. Consequently, there is little I can do with these regrets other than use them as an inspiration to be kinder and more understanding toward those I love in the days that remain.”
The new book, short as it is, displays Horowitz in his capacity of son, husband, father, stepfather, brother-in-law, and grandfather. Whatever mistakes he made in the past, anecdotes and reflections in the text of this book strongly suggest to me that he has learned how to love. It is a humbling demonstration. He doesn’t offer himself as a teacher in this regard, but he could. In this book, he loves in three dimensions.
Horowitz’s profiles of his children, Ben, Jon, and Anne, are worth the price of admission here. Ben and Jon are entrepreneurial geniuses who have achieved considerable success. Like Sarah, Anne is a prodigy of good works. The author does not exactly declare it or claim credit, but he is a justifiably proud father. If you read the book, you won’t want to miss the next family reunion, or Horowitz’s report on it, for that matter.
As he confronts his own life and prospective death, Horowitz proclaims his agnosticism. Yet he celebrates “creative faiths” that are conducive to good works and offers this surprising admonition: “Bear always in mind that only a religious faith can impart meaning to our existence. It does so through a vision of life hereafter that repairs the irreparable flaws in ours and makes us whole. Now we see through a glass darkly, only then face to face. This is the only faith that has a chance–and it is only a chance — to work without destructive consequences.”
And he offers this blurb-worthy endorsement of son Ben Horowitz’s best-selling business book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: “If leftists were to read this book with half-open minds and see what the life of a real CEO is like–the judgments he has to make, the risks he has to take, the personnel issues he has to solve, the adversities he has to soldier through–they would instantly see the folly of their beliefs, and abandon their delusions.” Horowitz then draws on his own hard-won wisdom to render this final judgment: “Even if leftists were to read Ben’s book, they would not believe what they read because it would shake the foundations of their moral being. This is why ignorance rules the political world and always will.”
This moving memoir may not improve the reader’s political intelligence, though it can’t hurt. Improbable as it may be, however, it might make the reader a better person.