The Traveler’s Gift

This is a review written by my son.  After reading his review I decided to read this book.  I am a chapter in and looking forward to completing the book.


The Traveler’s Gift Review

Andrews, Andy. The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success. Nashville: T. Nelson, 2002. Print.

Review by Andrew McCown.

Andy Andrews is much more than the author of The Traveler’s Gift, Storms oftravel gift Perfection, and the Tales from Sawyerton Springs. Along with being a successful author he is a comedian, inspirational speaker, corporate entertainer, and a television celebrity. His performances and speeches have all received excellent reviews, which has led him to perform for four of the United States presidents. With all of his success and fame Andrews keeps this humble thought as his main goal; to make sure that through everything he does he wants to have a positive impact on the lives of everyone he meets and share the love and word of God.  Andrews perfectly mixes the captivating, emotional, and exciting draw of a fiction novel with the message of an inspirational self-help book.

The seven different letters that are given to the main character from each person he meets is one of the seven decisions that will lead him to being successful. The main points from each of these letters are: accept that the buck stops with you, become a seeker of wisdom, a person of action, have a decided heart, choose to be happy, be forgiving throughout the day, and persist no matter the obstacle. Andy Andrews’ The Traveler’s Gift: The Seven Decisions for Success, uses its fictional story to help readers relate David’s troubles to their own and truly think about how important these decisions are in our lives and the impact it can shed on the lives of those around us.

David Ponder is the man that Andrews’ book The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success focuses on. David is in his mid-forties and has so far led a successful and secure life, but this has all quickly come to an end for our protagonist. At the start of the book, the reader sees David coming home in the early hours of the morning, his late return to home is due to his companies attempt to thwart a buyout by another conglomerate. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough to prevent the buyout and all persons holding executive positions, of which David was one, were immediately fired. Distraught by this tragic turn of events, David informs his wife about the situation and lets the event get the best of him. Several months later, after scraping by on a job that is providing little more than minimum wage, the health insurance from his previous employer has run its course, his daughter Jenny urgently needs to have her tonsils removed, and because of an emergency phone call from his wife while he is at work David loses his job. At this point David is at a loss for what to do about everything that has just happened. He leaves work, as he drives he finds himself on a long bridge, and finds himself going faster and faster until he hits a patch of black ice and loses control of his vehicle. Right before his car smashes into a tree, the last thing David cries out is “Why me?” This is where David’s journey begins.

To David’s astonishment, he finds himself still alive but laying in the floor of a man’s office. Once David has collected himself and the man has attended to his business, the man informs David that he is in Potsdam, Germany and is speaking to President Harry Truman. At the end of their discussion Truman give David the letter he wrote for him, this letter is the first decision for success. The first few sentences of this letter are, “The buck stops here. From this moment forward, I will accept responsibility for my past…I free myself to move into a bigger, brighter future of my own choosing” (Andrews 32). Andrews’ choice to use Harry Truman to deliver this specific decision for success was perfect. At that time Truman is at the Potsdam conference, this is the crucial point in World War II where it was decided whether or not to drop the newly developed atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To make the choice to bomb those two cities Truman had to be able to accept responsibility for his own problems and his past. By choosing to follow the first decision, he was able to make the right call to deploy the atomic bombs and take the next step to ending the war.

This decision for success that Andrews has given is that the choices a person makes leads them to their current situation they may be in and that no one else is to blame for the situations we put ourselves in. By accepting and taking responsibility for our past, both the good and bad parts, we make our choices carefully being sure that it will lead us to the future of our choosing. This is a very valid point and one that needs to be applied to everyone’s lives, I am guilty of blaming other people and events for affecting my present situation and my future, when it is my own doing that has caused problems.

When David finds himself entrenched behind a brick wall alongside the Union army at the battle of Gettysburg, he meets a colonel named Joshua Chamberlain. Colonel Chamberlain is the man who changed the tide of the entire Civil War with one brave charge against the overwhelming Confederate army that was marching against them. The decision for success that David receives from Joshua is “I am a person of action” (69). Joshua Chamberlain was not a seasoned veteran, he was just a school teacher that had enlisted, yet because of this decision for success Joshua knew he had to act.

This decision for success addresses one of the plagues of today’s society which is sloth. Many choose to do nothing and wait for money, health, and success to fall into their lap. That will never happen, we must make a choice to act, to pursue the future with great vigor and make it what we want it to be. Going back to Andrews’ example of Joshua, we see that he could have stayed behind the stone wall and fired the few shots the men had left, only to be swarmed and defeated by the Confederates. Instead, Joshua stands up on top of the stone wall, faces down the approaching Confederate army, and shouts to his men ordering his men to fix bayonets. This decision to act that Joshua takes to stand and charge against the Confederate army strikes fear into them and pushes them back securing victory at Gettysburg for the Union army. As a Christian this decision is crucial in many areas, we need to be a person of action in our works and in our faith. We cannot stand idly by letting others around us and our self fall, as individuals we must act often and energetically helping others through their struggles and bringing others outside of Christ to Him.

Andrews’ delivers all of the other decisions for success just like these previous two, his history behind all the different individuals was very accurate and well researched. Even the parts that are not necessarily historical fact were well written and believable, but did not take to many liberties and distort the history involved in his fictional story. Overall Andrews’ The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions for Personal Success, was an exceptional read with few flaws in it. The only criticism I have to voice is an issue after David’s visit with the archangel Gabriel. David is apparently sent to the future and comes to a large civic complex where there is an unknown speaker presenting his experiences that are eerily similar to David’s own personal life, and gives a perfectly accurate account of David’s encounter with Joshua Chamberlain. That segment of Andrews’ book left room for more questions than it did answers. Along with David being sent to the future, he sees his own great success and fame, I believe that seeing that particular part of the future would hinder David from actually achieving that success. I feel as though seeing all his accomplishments like the building in his name and the zoo named in honor of his daughter, would give him a false sense of security about his future. Since he has seen his own future it would make it easier for him to say that he has seen it so it must come true, and would give him the temptation to sit back and barely work towards his success which would in turn destroy the future that he saw.

The seven decisions for personal success in The Traveler’s Gift that Andrews’ developed the story of David Ponder around, are important and life changing decisions. I have no criticism for these seven decisions, all I hold for them are praise and thanks. I have been struggling with various problems and situations, but reading this book and these seven decisions has opened my eyes and helped me to understand what I have been doing wrong and how I can fix them. I personally thing that Andrews’ perfectly achieved his goal with The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions for Personal Success, his book easily allowed readers to see David’s troubles and find similarities with his life’s troubles and theirs. Along with that Andrews’ gives his readers the answers for being successful in their personal lives with the seven decisions, and he explains each decision in such a way that is easy to read leaving no room for any misunderstandings.

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