Book review of "The Business of Happiness," by Ted Leonsis

Sunday, March 28, 2010; B07


6 Secrets to Extraordinary

Success in Work and Life

By Ted Leonsis with John Buckley

Regnery. 305 pp. $27.95

A case can be made that Hemingway set Ted Leonsis on his career path. As an undergraduate at Georgetown University in the 1970s, the future AOL executive and owner of the Washington Capitals decided to make Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" the topic of a required thesis. Specifically, he set out to prove his hunch that parts of the novel were written decades earlier than the 1950s, the date of composition given by its author. Working with a Jesuit adviser, Leonsis had the bright idea of getting help from a computer. After he typed in page after page of that and other Hemingway works, he recalls, "The computer 'told us' that, at the very least, some elements of The Old Man and the Sea had been written prior to the 1950s." Not all Hemingway scholars agree, but the experience inspired in the young man "a life-long interest in the power and practical application of computers."

As for attaining happiness -- the "business" of the book -- Leonsis provides numerous checklists of ways to go after it and sources to rely on in bagging it. The idea, in other words, is not to pour all your energy into any one person, place or thing but to provide your life with as many pillars of support as you possibly can. Or, in Leonsis's words, "The happiest and most successful people I know have in common with one another not just an ability to function with multiple communities, but a real desire to do so."

-- Dennis Drabelle

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