The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me

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Overview

Bestselling author Bruce Feiler was a young father when he was diagnosed with cancer. He instantly worried what his daughters' lives would be like without him. Three days later, he came up with a stirring idea to reach out to six men from all the passages in his life, and ask them to be present in the passages in his daughters' lives. And he would call this group "The Council of Dads."

"I believe my daughters will have plenty of opportunities in their lives," he wrote to these ...

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Overview

Bestselling author Bruce Feiler was a young father when he was diagnosed with cancer. He instantly worried what his daughters' lives would be like without him. Three days later, he came up with a stirring idea to reach out to six men from all the passages in his life, and ask them to be present in the passages in his daughters' lives. And he would call this group "The Council of Dads."

"I believe my daughters will have plenty of opportunities in their lives," he wrote to these men. "But they may not have their dad. Will you help be their dad?"

The Council of Dads is the inspiring story of what happened next. Feiler introduces the men in his Council and captures the life lesson he wants each to convey to his daughters—how to see, how to travel, how to question, how to dream. He mixes these with an intimate, highly personal chronicle of his experience battling cancer while raising young children.

The Council of Dads is a touching, funny, and, ultimately deeply moving book on how to live life, how the human spirit can respond to adversity, and how to deepen and cherish the friendships that enrich our lives.

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  • Bruce S. Feiler
    Bruce S. Feiler  

Editorial Reviews

Michael Lindgren
…Feiler's conversations with his potential stand-ins are candid and moving. The Council of Dads exemplifies the mysterious process by which bad news can alter our perspective and reorder our priorities, and it celebrates the ever-expanding level of emotional intimacy that men are increasingly free to engage.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In 2008, bestselling author Feiler (Walking the Bible) learned he had a rare, life-threatening tumor in his left leg. Fearing what his absence would do to the lives of his young daughters, Feiler asked six close friends ("Men who know my voice") to help raise them. Feiler chronicles his battle with cancer, from diagnosis to recovery, as well as his sentimental but moving journey to recruit friends who can carry out his wish to teach his daughters to travel, dream, and live life to its fullest. Feiler's intimate bond with his friends makes them unusually expressive and communicative (if lacking in humor), and their own biographies lend further inspirational dimensions to the story. Though his letters to friends and family can get ornate ("The Brooklyn Bridge...is looking fresh-faced and handsome overhead, its famed promenade glittering like the pot of gold at the end of a long journey to come"), it's hard not to get swept along and cheer Feiler on as he fights for his life and his daughters'.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2008, Feiler (America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story, 2009, etc.) asked his closest male friends to provide guidance, wisdom and love to his children, should he not survive. The author chronicles the daunting process of enduring a life-threatening condition, creating an amalgam of travelogue, family album, personal memoir and portrait of a marriage. With the same measured, down-to-earth voice that distinguishes his popular explorations of historical landmarks and religious figures, Feiler describes the men in his life who have shaped him, including his father, both grandfathers and the men he chose to fill his fatherly shoes in case his extensive surgery and chemotherapy treatments proved unsuccessful. By reverently marveling at the achievements, sorrows and credos of his male role models, the evolution of his deepest friendships and his wife's courage, the author looks beyond his own lifetime, putting the struggles of the present into a philosophically astute and humble context. Through regular letters to loved ones, he offers snapshots of his "Lost Year," bluntly recounting the ravages of aggressive procedures, the impact of his weakened state on his daily life and the moments of joy, connection and grace he still finds within the anguish. His contemplative candor, fortitude and wry humor come through in the simplest of phrases: "No one aspires to be the person who handles this kind of situation well." Addressing his daughters, the author writes about "the great paradox of parenting: Even as we come to feel we can't live without you, our primary job is to prepare you to live without us. Our task, in a sense, is to make ourselves obsolete."Feiler tackles personal hardship with inquisitive and heartfelt eloquence. Author tour to Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Raleigh-Durham, Savannah, Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061988493
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 4 CDs , 5 Hrs
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Feiler

Bruce Feiler is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including Walking the Bible, Abraham, and Where God Was Born, as well as the host of Walking the Bible on PBS. An award-winning author, journalist, and speaker, Feiler is a graduate of Yale and Cambridge Universities. He is a frequent contributor to NPR, CNN, and Fox News. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and twin daughters.

Biography

Bruce Feiler has turned his curiosity into a career, writing on topics from clowning to Christianity with a sense of wonder, humor and inquisitiveness. Most recently he has become known as both theological tourist and tour guide, exploring Biblical history and its physical and cultural roots in the 2001 bestseller Walking the Bible and in 2002's Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths.

Feiler had begun his career writing about another culture with Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan, a funny and enlightening account of his year as an English teacher in a small Japanese town. The book continues to be embraced by those who want a better understanding of Japanese culture, one spiked with the humor of its alien gaijin observer. Feiler depicted another hallowed educational system in Looking for Class: Days and Nights at Oxford and Cambridge, an account of the author's experiences as a graduate student at Cambridge. Feiler's books educate, but their appeal also lies in the discoveries he makes as someone entering a new situation with natural preconceptions, then having those ideas upended by reality.

Kicking the fish-out-of-water theme up a notch, Feiler joined the circus for Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus. Here, Feiler showed the journalistic enterprise and mettle that would later figure into his bold journeys through Biblical territory. Spending a year performing as a clown on the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, Feiler provides a surprising look at the show, its performers and the often seamy underside that accompanies circus life.

Feiler jumped into yet another milieu with his look at the country music industry, Dreaming Out Loud. Presenting an insider's view of Nashville made possible by his access as a journalist to stars such as Garth Brooks and Wynonna Judd, Feiler puts together of picture of starmaking -- including in his profiles a young talent named Wade Hayes -- and the machinery that runs modern country music. As with his other books, Feiler describes how his notions (he hated country music before Brooks made him a fan) have evolved along with his subject.

Feiler is also an award-winning food writer and journalist who has written articles for major publications such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the New Republic. But he gained a larger audience when he took on his biggest topic yet: the Bible. "Over more than a decade of living and working abroad I found that ideas, and places, became more real to me when I experienced them firsthand....In the Middle East, the Bible is not some abstraction," Feiler wrote in an essay on Barnes & Noble.com about the origins of Walking the Bible. "It's a living, breathing entity unencumbered by the sterilization of time. That was the Bible I wanted to know, and almost immediately I realized that the only way to find it was to walk along those lines myself."

In taking that walk, Feiler vastly expanded his audience and found himself a subject he would stick with. He was already working on a sequel to the book when September 11 redirected him toward one aspect of his earlier studies: the religious father figure of Abraham. He set out to find hope in this binding tie among Judaism, Christianity and Islam; but found, again, a different picture than the one he anticipated painting. Feiler's education is ours; without him asking the questions, we might not have new insights on cultural fixtures that already seem so familiar.

Good To Know

How he wrote his first book: Feiler appropriated sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov's self-description as an "explainaholic," then explained in an interview with a country music web site how he came to write his first book: "I wrote a series of letters home [from Japan] of the ‘you’re not going to believe what happened to me today' variety. When I came back home, everywhere I went people said to me, ‘I really liked your letters,’ and I would say, ‘Do I know you?’. It turns out that these letters had been passed around. I thought, well, if this is as interesting for me and my family and all of you, I should write a book about [my experiences]."

Feiler, who grew up Jewish in Savannah, Georgia, says that an early encounter with the legend of Abraham was part of a watershed moment for him. The Torah passage he read for his Bar Mitzvah was Lekh Lekha, the story of Abraham going forth from his father's house. He told BeliefNet, "The defining moment of my life was the night of my Bar Mitzvah, when my father pulled me aside at this family gathering, poured me a drink, and said, 'Son, you're a man now, you're responsible for your own actions.'"

Feiler's exploration of the Bible has been confined to the Hebrew Bible, leaving out much in the Old Testament and the entirety of the New Testament; but he told readers in a USA Today chat that he hopes to do a sequel that would take him through the events of Jesus' life.

Feiler is also a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine and has won two James Beard Awards for his food writing.

Feiler says he has traveled to over 60 countries and sprained his ankle on four continents.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Bruce S. Fieler
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 25, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      Savannah, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1987; M.Phil. in international relations, Cambridge University, 1991

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