Book Review: The Secret
by Rhonda Byrne
Publication Date: Nov 28, 2006
List Price: $23.95
Format: Hardcover, 198 pages
Imprint: Atria Books
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Parent Company: CBS Corporation
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Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
’What is the Secret?
The Secret is the law of attraction!
Everything that's coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it's attracted to you by virtue of the images you're holding in your mind. It's what you're thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you.’
’Excerpted from Chapter One entitled ’The Secret Revealed’
Like no other individual in America, Oprah Winfrey has the power to kickstart the latest craze. Such was the case a few years ago when she praised a dietary supplement called Airborne as a means of warding off colds and flu-like symptoms. Well, sales of the over-the-counter medication took off, and everywhere you turned, there was another person popping the chewable tablets like candy.
Oprah is also capable of catapulting an author to the top of the Best Seller list, and this is precisely the phenomenon we are witnessing today with The Secret, a how-to primer which purports to unlock ’The great mystery of the universe.’ The book shot to the top of the charts right after being featured on her show a few weeks ago. And it is still sitting in the #1 slot at Amazon.com today.
So, exactly what is this ’key to everything you have ever wanted,’ including unlimited joy, heath, money, relationships and love? A surprisingly-simple, supposedly recently-unearthed revelation called The Law of Attraction.
In essence, the Law states that you create your own reality with your thoughts. This concept is not at all new, but the potentially-dangerous psychobabble long served up as the fundamental tenet of tautological philosophies spouted by an assortment of New Age gurus ever since the Sixties. Here, that basic idea has been cleverly re-packaged for mass consumption as a multi-level marketing campaign hawking not only a text for 24 bucks, but a DVD and CDs as well.
Since The Secret is one of the fast-selling self-help books in the history of publishing, nothing in the power of my words will affect its popularity one iota. However, please permit me to suggest that those looking for easy answers to all their woes take a look at the background of its author Rhonda Byrne for clues as to what's happening here. Prior to experiencing the ’visions' which would inspire her to discover the life-transforming revelation that is the basis of her runaway best seller, the piercing-eyed platinum-blonde was the creator and executive producer in her native Australia of hit TV specials on such subjects as UFOs and The World's Greatest Commercials. So, her resume’ reads more like that of P.T. Barnum than that of a great thinker.
Furthermore, upon close inspection, it becomes clear that The Secret repeatedly employs a subtly deceptive persuasion device referred to in tabloid journalism as ’confirmed nonsense.’ This trick, routinely utilized by the likes of The National Enquirer and The Weekly Word News, involves relying heavily on the statements of experts in order to have their credentials legitimate what would otherwise sound like utter foolishness.
In conclusion, while The Secret's mind-numbing pabulum can be considered a harmless escape for anyone inclined to pretend for a little while that mind over matter might work, it is just as likely to lead to bitter disappointment for those who take its teachings to heart and thereby expect to eradicate disease, acquire massive wealth and overcome all manner of obstacles by virtue of positive thinking alone.