I am an Andy Andrews fan. I was inspired by “The Butterfly Effect,” and the “Traveler’s Gift.” Andrews’ style combines history and biographies in brilliant ways. He educates and entertains. In “The Final Summit” Andrews does it one more time. The book, at 226 pages, is an qhick read. It flows well. I read it in a couple of hours. As such, it’s the kind of book you may read 3 or 4 times, master “a Coles notes” version of your own, and use it as a motivational code of values.
“The Final Summit” is the continuing story of David Ponder, a character developed by Andrews in “The Traveler’s Gift.” Ponder, now 74, is grieving and depressed by the sudden loss of his wife Ingrid, with whom he enjoyed 39 years of marriage. He wishes his life was over and doesn’t know what to do. The angel Gabriel appears to him. His initial relief, thinking the angel’s appearance means life is over, turns to anxiety when he is informed he has been chosen to help save humanity. He is summoned to a “final Summit” of mankind’s greatest individuals. At this Summit he meets with Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, King David, Anne Frank, and a multitude of others. They are tasked with answering the question, “What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization.” Ponder was chosen because he is an “Everyman,” a representative of all humanity – “uncertain of his life’s purpose, inconsistent in his actions and attitudes, and angry about it all.” p. 41
With time running out in humanity’s hourglass, Ponder and his associates must come up with a two-word principle that will save humanity from itself. Andrews paints a picture of contemporary society as arrogant, divided, self-serving and unaware of its deadly decline. “Humanity is creating its own flood…” Five chances are given to name the saving principle and all five suggestions fail to meet the angel Gabriel’s approval. Desperately, those at the summit throw out concepts like forgiveness, fairness, justice, love, never quit, habits, character, self-discipline, prudence and more – all of which were found wanting. Down to their final seconds a principle is offered that stops time. Compared to the five previous principles, the final one is inferior intrinsically, but superior pragmatically. It is the solution that “saves humanity.” Ponder is sent back to earth to pass the principle on in the form of a declaration for humanity’s benefit. I won’t spoil your “quest” by sharing the final principle or the five other principles. When people knew I was reading this book they guessed at what the ‘final principle” may be. Dozens of guesses, while all good, failed to match Andrews’ chosen one. For that, his genius shines through.
The book is woven together with inspiring quotes, and rare insight into historical personalities. Andrews takes his liberties with historical accuracy, but at the same time uses actual quotes to carry on conversations between people from different eras who shared common values and experiences. He deals with the issue of depression in a most creative and helpful way. Churchill referred to depression as “ the black dog.” Andrews has Churchill, King David, Abraham Lincoln (all known to have suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts) and Ponder carry on a conversation about depression that shows even the most successful individuals had to win a victory over themselves and their emotions in order to succeed.
I will certainly add “The Final Summit” to my recommendations booklist for aspiring leaders as a must read.
BookSneeze® provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.