Book Review – The Traveler’s Gift

The Traveler’s Gift
Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success
By Andy Andrews
2002 Thomas Nelson, Inc.

It’s been said that history is the greatest teacher. But often, history is taught as little more than a series of impersonal political events or actions. Rarely do we stop to consider that history, for better or worse, is influenced and created by people not unlike you and me. Yet there does seem to be something that sets these people apart. What drives people to change history? Where do they find the courage to step into the unknown? What compels them to move forward toward their goals when the world seems so uncertain and circumstances stand in their way?

These are not merely questions to be grappled with by notable historical figures, of course, but by every one of us.

In “The Traveler’s Gift,” motivational speaker Andy Andrews takes the reader on an expedition back in time. The protagonist in Andrew’s story is David Ponder, a former high-flying executive whose life has taken a definite downward turn. After losing his lucrative position in a Fortune 500 company, David finds himself working a minimum wage job, driving a car that barely runs, and faced with an ultimate crisis: a daughter with a medical problem David and his wife cannot afford to treat.

Defeated and desperate, David finds himself losing control of his life. And on one fateful night, he loses control of his car on an icy road, and doesn’t care whether he survives the crash. His last words as his car careens off the road are, “Please God! Why me?” And then…nothing.

But fate has something unique in store for David Ponder. As he slowly regains his awareness, he finds himself sitting on a Persian rug in an ornate high-ceilinged room by a hand-carved desk. “Please get off the floor and sit in this chair,” says the only other person in the room, a small, older gentleman with clear blue eyes.

The man turns out to be Harry Truman and the date July 24th, 1945.

As David wonders aloud whether he is dead or dreaming, Truman attempts to offer an explanation:

“Occasionally, someone is chosen to travel the ages, gathering wisdom for future generations. It’s as if the Almighty literally reaches down and places His hand on a shoulder, and in this particular case,” the president peered over his glasses, “it was your shoulder.”

As their conversation continues, David begins to learn that he is in the presence of a truly remarkable man. Truman, it seems, had been expecting David’s arrival. And he was prepared to offer some critical, if not difficult, insight in response to David’s life situation:

“David, we are all in situations of our own choosing. Our thinking creates a pathway to success or failure. By disclaiming responsibility for our present, we crush the prospect of an incredible future that might have been ours.”

“I don’t understand,” David said.

“I am saying that our outside influences are not responsible for where you are mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, or financially. You have chosen the pathway to your present destination. The responsibility for your situation is yours.”

Understandably, this information was not easy for David to digest. Yet it would be the first of seven critical lessons David would learn on his extraordinary journey through time. Among other remarkable teachers David encounters, Christopher Columbus, King Solomon, and Anne Frank each share moments of their lives and insights into their attitudes and philosophies that so dramatically affected history.

Andrews successfully draws the reader through each of these amazing visits with a unique and effective combination of historical fiction and personal growth. Though formulaic at times, Andrews is an excellent storyteller. He provides convincing portrayals of these remarkable individuals and the times in which they lived. It’s easy to feel the sway of the Santa Maria underfoot as Columbus, on his way to a discovery the cynics told him would never manifest, tells David, “I have a decided heart,” or to sense something of the fear gripping the Frank family as Nazi Gestapo agents tapped against the walls of their annex while Anne and her family sit silent and frozen, waiting for the threat to pass. Little Anne Frank would – in the midst of this terrible dread – remind David to choose happiness each and every day.

Although Andrews’ treatment of the historical figures is compelling, the real power of the book resides with the principles these figures demonstrate and pass on to David. The reader is not only advised to ascribe to and apply these ideas, they are shown how by individuals who have clearly done so. Most readers will recognize that these same principles for success are truly timeless. And Andrews offers them in a distinctive and appealing way within the context of a story many will relate to.

As David completes his journey, he finds himself with a second chance at creating a life worth living. He still faces the same problems and challenges as before. But equipped with seven powerful decisions for success, and inspired by the words and lives of some of history’s most remarkable people, David is prepared and motivated to reclaim his life and fashion it into something extraordinary.

The Traveler’s Gift will inspire your imagination, engage your spirit, and speak to your heart. Unique, entertaining, and enlightening, The Traveler’s Gift is highly recommended.

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