Bill Birnbaum is a fellow writer for SeniorCorrespondent.com who offered to send me a copy of his book for review. The subtitle is “Stories of Adventure, Misadventure, and Lessons learned Along the Way.” Certainly Bill is a guy who has not shied away from exploits that some would consider risky, if not foolhardy. Somewhere along the way in his life I can imagine more than one friend or relative saying, “Hey, Bill, you’ve done a lot of crazy things — you should write a book!”
It begins as an autobiography,depicting childhood years in Brooklyn and describing most of his family, including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The adventure-lover in my own family was Uncle Alfred, my dad’s younger brother. Some of Bill Birnbaum’s childhood exploits, like putting small objects on the train tracks or trying to build bombs, resounded with me as I remembered hearing similar tales about Alfie. Even though some of Bill’s early exploits did not come off as that unusual, succeeding episodes involving single engine planes, mountain-climbing, river rafts, hitchhikers and race cars were exciting tales worth telling.
Bill has degrees in electrical engineering and business administration. He is a management consultant whose books prior to this one were related to business strategy. He has given seminars and presentations on that topic. His writing style is forthright, humorous, and easy to read.
The book is divided into numerous chapters, often devoted to a single exploit. To me the most compelling ones are the more detailed outdoor adventures, such as repeated trips to Baja California and Toroweap Point, a little-known area on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. In the latter place Bill and friends met a dignified older park ranger who had spent his entire career at this special place, by himself for the most part. Bill’s friendship with this gentleman is touching.
The final adventure in the book is when Bill, at 64, and his wife, Wendy, decide to sell all their possessions and go to Peru to do volunteer work. Conditions there turned out to be more primitive and challenging than expected, but the author’s good humor prevails. This is a fun read for those of us who are not so adventurous.