A Walk With Hannibal – a short book review


Hannibal and Me: What History's Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure (2012)

By, Andreas Kluth

NOTE: At our house, we love Audible.com. Ryan can listen to books as he works on furniture at his shop, while I can listen on my daily one hour walk. Also, as the Mayor of HeidiTown, we go on numerous road trips around Colorado, and can listen in the car as we travel. So I no longer read books, I listen to them.

For many weeks now, I’ve been going on a walk with Hannibal, the Carthaginian who terrorized Italy for nearly two decades.

The book, Hannibal & Me, opens with this quote:

“If you can meet with Triumph & Disaster

And treat those imposters just the same…”

From Rudyard Kipling’s “If”

Ultimately, this line is at the core of what this book is all about.

The book was written by Andreas Kluth, a longtime journalist for the Economist. The book follows the life of Hannibal, and Kluth writes of Hannibal’s successes and failures while mixing in the stories of other famous people throughout history who have had their share of victories and defeats. Individuals like Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amy Tan and Tiger Woods, among others.

The book is about the blurry line between success and failure, how age can change the way we look at both, and how our response to success or failure can influence the rest of our lives. At first glance this may sound like a self-help book, but it’s much more philosophical.

For me, this book was an eye opener. I have always been self-motivated, a type-A personality, even as a child, and was planning a world take over by age 14. I graduated college with every intention of going to law school and making buckets of money. Instead, I walked away from it all, opened a furniture business with my husband and became a writer.

Did I redefine my definition of success? Or did I fail? This is something that has haunted me ever since I walked away from law school. This book allowed me to see that it is how we deal with our perceived successes and failures that defines our lives, not the actual events or circumstances themselves.

Hannibal and Me has inspired hours of conversation between Ryan and I. As two very different personalities, we both walked away with something different from this book, and interestingly, I think our discussions have led us to an even better understanding of one another.  

I don’t know what you will take away from Hannibal & Me. I’ve only breached the surface of this fascinating book, but if you’ve ever struggled with concepts of success and failure in your life, and let’s face it, many of us who choose the path of business ownership and entrepreneurship have had our fair share of perceived failures along the way – I encourage you to read (or listen) this book.

Hannibal & Me didn’t change my life, but it gave me a fresh and healthy new perspective on it.

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is a freelance writer and founder of HeidiTown.com. She has been coworking since early 2010.

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