DISCOVER YOUR GENIUS: How to Think Like History's Ten Most Revolutionary Minds

Michael J. Gelb, Author . HarperCollins $26.95 (368p) ISBN 0-06-621376-2

"You were born with the potential for genius," Gelb reassures readers at the beginning of his latest self-improvement guide. The rub, as always, lies in realizing that genius. For Gelb (How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci), the secret is to understand and emulate history's great minds—Gelb's "Genius Dream Team." There are familiar names here (Plato, Shakespeare, Einstein), and a few surprises, too (Renaissance architect Brunelleschi, Elizabeth I of England). Each genius offers a different lesson: Copernicus's is to "revolutionize your worldview"; Jefferson's is "celebrate your freedom"; and so on. Gelb's formula for instilling these lessons is simple. He presents a brief biography of each Dream Team member, then outlines a series of exercises that the reader can follow in order to absorb the philosophy and methods of that genius. For example, if you want to understand Plato, host a Symposium-like toga party, drink lots of wine and read love poems. To know Elizabeth I, on the other hand, do some "creative doodling" to design a personal medieval coat of arms. Readers may judge for themselves the efficacy of such exercises. Obviously, this book appeals to a self-selecting group of positive-thinking believers; for these enthusiasts, Gelb is undoubtedly an engaging guide with an appealing approach to self-help. Others, however, will find these methods simplistic and contrived (i.e., would listening to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring really help one comprehend Darwin's theories?). Empowered readers who make it to the end of the book get a bonus: an advertisement offering Gelb's services for keynote speeches, seminars and executive development programs. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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