BOOK REVIEW: “A Song in the Night: A Memoir of Resilience” by Bob Massie (2012)

A Song in the Night: A Memoir of Resilience“From my earliest moments, my life was marked by deep joy interrupted regularly by searing physical pain.”

Born with hemophilia, Bob Massie’s story is literally stunning. I was fortunate enough to attend one of his talks recently and like some fifty odd colleagues I was spellbound for over an hour as he talked about the struggles he has had to overcome. He is not bitter or filled with regret. He final message is one of this hope and joy. “If I am lucky,” he says  “I have another 10 000 days on this Earth and I intend to enjoy every single one of them.”

A Song in the Night sets out his life story. Read this book and if you ever get the chance, find out where Mr. Massie is speaking and go and listen to him. 

Summary

Bob Massie

Despite being in constant physical suffering, Massie’s achievements are inspiring for everyone.

How then,  does one continue to fight back and overcome worse setbacks, to make a positive impact on the community and world at large with a life-altering disease? Having carried the burden of hemophilia since childhood, having had to walk in knee braces throughout his childhood, and having been exposed to HIV and hepatitis through tainted needles in his blood transfusions, Bob Massie recounts his personal memoir of how he has dealt with this and still felt the need to contribute to society.

How does one gain the perspective to persevere in the daily challenges of a lifetime? Despite being in constant physical suffering, he maintained an optimism that is astounding for others to understand and a determination that is inspiring for all who read his account in this telling book.  From working on opening up the closed off university club system during his Princeton years, to becoming a minister, to writing one of the most influential books on South African apartheid, and getting involved with the UN, Mr. Massie has certainly achieved a great amount of feats during his lifetime.

Bob Massie

His resolve and sense of purpose to help others is a predominant theme through the book.

The book is the written memoir of Mr. Massie’s personal autobiography, depicting his motivations and thoughts behind his actions and involvements in society- in the political, academic, and corporate sector.  He recounts his involvements with civil and human rights movements, political campaigns, and with economic and environmental groups, where he aimed to provide a linkage between the two groups and then he subsequently set a global standard for sustainability.  He describes his tenure as President of the New Economics Institute and his own past research into his own illness, especially at the issue of the risk of HIV contamination in blood transfusions, which he later contracted himself.

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His final message is one of living for the moment and enjoying every second we are given rather than looking to the future. He conclusion is a simple but powerful one:

“There is only now. When can get to then, but it will only be a now, then.”

His resolve and sense of purpose to help others is a predominant theme through the book, and through his own spiritual beliefs, focus on learning and knowledge acquisition, and a conscientious effort to never dwell on self-pity, Mr. Massie truly inspires others to achieve a positive impact. He is a remarkable man and so is this book.

Bob Massie Biography

Interesting Quotes

In the prison of pain, love offer the only solace…All I could do was cling to the hope that the adults would help me. 

Language is one of the greatest human mysteries. We often forget this, because our days and our minds are so flooded with talk. Yet the search to find the right word for our experiences is constant. 

I grew up in the generation after World War II when Americans instinctively believed that every problem would eventually yield to technology. 

When I was eleven years old, a new treatment for hemophilia was invented: a high-potency form of Factor VII…The availability of this new product was a godsend. 

I had had to administer infusions of Factor VIII as often as five times a week since I was twelve years old. 

We all go through life carrying so much guilt and anxiety; we are constantly being measured and judged. In many of our daily roles we are expected to meet ever higher standards: as students and employees, as children and parents. We are told that our identity and our success depend on our performance.n and we have internalized this message all the way to our deepest core.”

I want to share the secret that was lying in plain sight for my whole life…And that truth is that every person and every community, as a function of our free will, can always find a second chance.

The world may have its structures and its consequences, but it is also full of grace that confers healing and freedom.

Other Book Reviews

Bad Breaks, Good Works

Wall Street Journal: “In ‘A Song in the Night,’ he describes how, with degrees from both Yale Divinity School and Harvard Business School, he has managed the improbable-seeming task of organizing a global coalition between investors and environmental groups.”

Fighting the Good Fight: Q&A with Survivor—and Game Changer—Bob Massie – An interview with the author

Time Entertainment: “‘Why did you decide to write a book?’ In 2011 the Chief of the Hematology Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital asked me to give a grand rounds speech. My original title was ‘Surviving Hemophilia, HIV and Hepatitis.’ It was so boring. I decided to take a totally different approach and tell five stories instead.”

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3 Comments

Filed under Business, Careers, Culture, Education, Ethics, human resources, Leadership, Learning, Management, Sociology, USA

3 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: “A Song in the Night: A Memoir of Resilience” by Bob Massie (2012)

  1. Sounds like a great read–I like the quotes at the end of your post. A great reflection on how you will decide to evaluate your life in the end, all factors included. As the old saying goes, “facing death is the best clarifier of life.” (paraphrased. . . I forgot the original ;-o)

    Thanks for the review.

    Gordon RAY

    • Mark Thomas

      Thanks for your comments, Gordon. It is a great read indeed and Bob Massie is a soft spoken but very powerful speaker. Best to you, Mark

  2. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW : “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg | GlobalEd

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