Book Review: “Gifted Hands” by Ben Carson, M.D. with Cecil Murphey (1990)

“The Ben Carson Story: The true story of the amazing man who gives children a second chance at life.” (cover)

Certainly Dr. Ben Carson’s growing celebrity in recent months has been a huge draw for me, and this is a big reason why I’ve picked up his books and tried to learn more about him. I found it a bit disappointing that he’s dropped out of the Presidential Race, especially in view of all that’re left, but when has such a race not been disappointing? Since 2004 at least. For me, though, it was not so much Carson’s sudden rise to national interest over the past year that drew me to him, but rather his epic performance at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, in which he gave a speech that completely dismantled Obama’s dangerous philosophies in a well-spoken, non-confrontational way, all with President Obama sitting just a few feet away.

Dr. Carson’s principles are not a political ploy, a stunt drafted during some brainstorming session designed to win him “the Evangelical vote.” No, the principles by which he lives and about which he often writes and speaks are those which his mother engrained in him from youth, those which he’s drawn from the Word of God, and those which have been tested and proved over a long career of life-saving neurosurgery. That’s exactly what this book is about. Dr. Carson is the genuine article, so this autobiography is a powerful study into the makings of a strong-principled, godly man.

While Carson’s race-struggles seem to have played a minor role in his upbringing—specifically with regards to the reaction of one his teachers who downplayed his education success as merely the educational failure of all the white kids in the school—he emphasizes these struggles far less than expected, far less than other African Americans who had grown up in the 1960s and 70s might have done. Perhaps this is by God’s grace that he suffered very little at the hands of arrogant, sanctimonious white folks during his earliest years, but I don’t think that’s the farthest extent of God’s grace in Carson’s experience. Instead, it seems that Carson has simply outgrown his past experiences of victimization, and he has truly “overcome” to the point where any poor racial experiences he can recall, from his now sturdy perch of success, can be viewed in their proper historical light: fools doing foolish things because they lacked the proper education to think and behave wisely and civilly.

Is this type of thinking on Carson’s part sanctimonious itself? Isn’t he just playing the “non-race card” in an attempt to appeal to “the white vote”? Of course, it’s up to each reader (and voter) to decide, but personally I don’t think so. Thanks to his own mother’s stubbornness and to his commitment to lifelong learning, Carson has discovered and remained faithful to a method of thinking that has truly broken him free from the chains that have bound our culture for far too long. Rather than listening to the pundits, to the fear-mongers, to the whiners and complainers who live in the past, Carson has recognized his own responsibility to think for himself and to encourage others to do the same. So often during his speeches and debates throughout this primary battle, he urged his viewers to research things themselves. While he (or other candidates) can make any claim they like, he consistently encouraged the people to check the facts and records for themselves, and this type of self-education is precisely the anecdote our nation needs to cure the stupidity that now characterizes us.

While it’s clear that Dr. Benjamin Carson will not be the 45th President of the United States, I certainly hope that he finds another way to lead our people toward a better and more educated future, whether that’s as the next President’s VP or Secretary of Education. It doesn’t really matter. What our country can’t afford, however, is to let this man go the way of history as an “almost,” when for the sake of all our brains he must remain an “is.”

©2016 E.T.

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One Response to Book Review: “Gifted Hands” by Ben Carson, M.D. with Cecil Murphey (1990)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: “Anchorman” by Steve Farrar (1998) | Elliot's Blog

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