Life Strategies:  Doing What Works, Doing What Matters
Phillip C. McGraw

While there is definitely some interesting material here, including ten "life laws" that make a great deal of sense, McGraw's presentation is one that will put many readers off.  He's quite proud of his gruffness and his "in-your-face" attitude, but I remain unconvinced that such an approach is helpful for most people.  He's into name-calling of people who he thinks don't get it (on one page he refers to "clods" and "idiots,") and he is extremely prone to mandating what people must do to improve their lives.  All in all, what he says comes off as very heavy-handed and not very helpful at all.

He's also very much into himself.  The book is full of statements such as "The immediate impact that I want this law to have," which puts a strong focus on his wants.  He also overdoes his Oprah connection--yes, he did seem to help her when she was struggling through a lawsuit, but do we have to hear about it so darned much?  Finally, much of what he says is just wrong, such as in one journal exercise when he asks the reader to write down instances when they might have been victims, and then tells the reader "you were, in fact, accountable for your bad result."  So for my student whose dad came home drunk and beat the crap out of her, what does it mean to have someone tell her that she wasn't a victim in that case, but that she was actually responsible for it happening?

He seems to be quite proud of the fact that he's manipulating the reader--and therefore you should manipulate other people, since he's doing it to you.

The level of the writing is very low, and he does tend to ramble without coming to any points at all.

There are some decent ideas here, but nothing that you can't find elsewhere much better said; it's one that I'll pass on and one that I definitely would NOT recommend to anyone who's hurting and who needs a compassionate mentor to help them through their bad times.
Our rating:  D
Amazon rating (July, 2012):  4 stars of five (with 38 one-star reviews)
Barnes and Noble rating (July, 2012):  no reviews