cover image It's Not Over Until I Win

It's Not Over Until I Win

Les Brown, Sally Brown. Simon & Schuster, $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-684-81560-2

A self-styled graduate of ""Hard Knocks University,"" Brown makes his personal experiences engaging in a way that authors with only academic learning rarely can. In a clear, conversational voice, and with refreshing humility and humor, he writes about life as an African American male abandoned at birth and adopted by a single woman who raised a total of seven such children; about growing up in the Special Education classes of a Miami ghetto school; about rising to fame and fortune as a motivational speaker. He discusses his phenomenally successful PBS special and his high-rated but short-lived syndicated TV talk show; his first book, Live Your Dreams! and his relationship with his wife, singer Gladys Knight. Brown's difficulties with what he sees as ""the sleaze trend in television,"" and his show's quick cancellation, occurring simultaneously with his mother's slow and painful death, triggered his own fall into despair and subsequent rebound to what he calls living ""dynamically."" While not addressing issues of serious family dysfunction or of mental and/or emotional problems (except by offering firm advice to ""get away from toxic people""), Brown delivers an energetic and inspiring pep-talk for overcoming more universal hard times, such as losing a job or a loved one. Part autobiography, part self-help workbook, this volume successfully translates Brown's natural charisma from the podium to the page. (Jan.)