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Book reviews for "Gustafson,_James" sorted by average review score:

The Modern Contest: A Systemic Guide to the Pattern That Connects Individual Psychotherapy, Family Therapy, Group Work, Teaching, Organizational Life
Published in Hardcover by W.W. Norton & Company (01 March, 1990)
Authors: James P. Gustafson and Lowell W. Cooper
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A fine read
The authors approach groups, both large and small, contexually. The subject matter is handled in a rich and thoughtful way. This book is not just for mental health practitioners but anyone interested in post-structuralist thought.

This book is a master work by major league theorists.
THE MODERN CONTEST is a master work that deserves a much wider audience than it has received since its publication ten years ago. The scope of the book and its opening claim, that it defines "the common pattern that connects individual psychotherapy, family therapy, group work, teaching, organizational life and large scale social problems," is so vast that the volume was guaranteed a narrow readership probably from the moment it hit the presses. It is a tribute to W.W. Norton that Gustafson and Cooper's ideas, heady and raw-boned as they are, can be studied and savored over time. This is not a lightweight piece of theory-building, and the brilliance of the work only becomes clear after repeated visitation. One is reminded of Louis Armstrong's immortal statement about the definition of Jazz: "Man, if you have to ask, then you just don't know." These two jazzmasters have gone quite beyond the riff and jive of the typical book on group and organizational life. They do not tell us what we want to hear; they tell us what we need to hear.

Having seen these authors in action in both large and small group settings, I was chagrined to realize how little I understood about the true genius manifest in their twenty years of collaboration and dialogue. Their combined insight is impressive, daunting, demanding, and inspiring.

Gustafson, the psychiatrist-physician, writes the odd numbered chapters. Cooper, the psychologist-professor, is author of the even-numbered chapters. That curious structural contrapuntality tells the reader from the beginning that the band is rocking and this is no slow-dance. We are jerked back and forth in an almost primitive rhythm as these mind-drummers explain to us that "the modern contest decides winning and losing very fast," and that our post-modernist era is a battlefield beyond our simple-minded understanding of the way things appear to be.

Throughout the book there are zen-like generalizations about the nature of group life. "Loyalty is the best introduction," they suggest, and "meeting crude challenges cheerfully is the least troublesome for our friends." What transforms this collection of globalizations into deeply valuable insight is the assortment of stories, illustrations, and self-reports offered by the authors. Their unabashed descriptions of failure, misery, suffering, and cruel hardship are painfully personal at certain moments. The most trivial rejection by peers or students illuminates a world of almost visionary proportion when seen properly through the lenses of interpretation and purpose.

Who should read this book? I came to THE MODERN CONTEST as a longtime student and teacher of group process, psychotherapy, and personal growth. Anyone with those interests will be properly hammered by Gustafson, in particular, who has managed somehow to be an iconoclastic survivor in the maelstrom of academic life. One gets the sense that no matter how deep the confederacy of dunces surrounding him, he gets the joke and accepts the new navigational challenge. Like a character out of James Joyce, he seems to say, "Oh? We have changed the rules? Very well, then, we have changed the rules!"

Try this on for size: "Any territory will be invaded by three kinds of armies of contest: the armies of the oblivious who have something they are authorized to check; the armies of the desperate who must have their fortunes improved or else become lost; the armies of the overpowering who can clear the room. Each ought to get a different kind of counterproposal."

And here is my own particular punchline: this book is very, very helpful in my daily work. I am not quite sure why. Certainly the value derives in part from the knife-edge humor that pervades the book. These guys are not laughing with us, they are laughing at us. What redeems them, I think, is that they are enthusiastic about letting us in on every gag, every secret, every nasty little truth about ourselves and our behavior. That is why the book can soar from a small group of medical students, behaving like primitive apes, to a vast territorial organization acting much the same way.

I confidently predict that this book will be reprinted, if not revised in a second edition. I doubt that these two sailors will circumnavigate this particular world again, at least not together. They are like Wallace Stevens' man with the blue guitar, and they do not play things as they are. I can picture the two of them, warm tea dripping from their moustaches, already planning something quite beyond the modern contest. The post-modern contest, perhaps, or the punishment of splendid little insights.

Whatever they call their next duet, I will be first in line in cyberspace to see if I can get my hands on their next commentary on our wobbling little planet and the Great Pattern which suggests that there is meaning in the cosmos.

The Complex Secret of Brief Psychotherapy: A Panorama of Approaches (Master Work Series)
Published in Paperback by Jason Aronson (1997)
Author: James Paul Gustafson
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A smorg of useful information
(I am reviewing from an original copy - 1986)

Gustafson takes the reader on a tour of the theories and therapies that have informed his practice over his career. Beginning with Freud and Breuer, Gustafson includes the work of Ferenczi, Rank, Reich, Alexander & French, Sullivan, Winnicott, Balint, Gedo, Havens, Malan, Mann, Sifneos, Davanloo, Bateson, the Milan teams, and Maturana.

Each chapter is designed to pull what Gustafson feels is the essence of the method of each of these therapists and he typically uses one of the therapists' cases as well as one of his own as a way to demonstrate that the work of the masters is possible to adapt and be made workable for oneself.

In the end, Gustafson works towards a "method of methods", setting a structure (beginning, middle and end) for brief therapy, within which one applies the methods of whichever theorist best matches the dynamics of the patient.

For all of his cases, he includes in the back of the book a full clinical review based on the case files of the clients. This way, the reader can see the whole picture of the case and not just the truncated view within the chapter itself.

This text has extensive endnotes and references. I started with this text a decade ago and have worked my way through nearly every original source since. It is an excellent way to shape one's theoretical and clinical world.

The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy (Library of Theological Ethics)
Published in Paperback by Westminster John Knox Press (1999)
Authors: H. Richard Niebuhr, James M. Gustafson, and William Schweiker
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the importance of responsibility
H. Richard Niebuhr's The Responsible Self is a classic in Christian ethics. Niebuhr argues that humans are neither simply 'goal seeking' creatures nor simply 'rule-following' creatures, but are 'responsive' and hence, responsible. We are 'answerers' who must first ask "What is going on here?" and then respond to that assessment with a 'fitting' answer. The importance of this short and readable work should not be underestimated. Niebuhr's approach spawned an interest in perspective and vision in ethics that is carried on by contemporary thinkers such as James Gustafson and Stanley Hauerwas.

Peter Pan/Changing Picture and Lift-The-Flap Book
Published in Hardcover by Viking Press (1992)
Authors: Edmund Caswell, James Matthew Barrie, and Scott Gustafson
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Peter Pan is a good book for kids and adults alike.
Peter Pan is a good adventure/fantasy that kids and adults can enjoy alike. With much exaggeration, it is something kids can enjoy and read into. It's a page-turning book that once you started you can't stop.

If You Believe In Fairies...
Wow! What a great story this is! I picked it up on a whim years ago having enjoyed the Disney cartoon, and when I finally got around to reading it, I couldn't put the darn thing down. This is really exciting stuff! Peter is ten times as irrascible as he is in the toon. One line has always stuck in my head - its where Peter is faced with certain death (I forget exactly what). He thinks to himself that its quite possible he could die, and thinks `That would be the greatest adventure of all!' That line sums of the feel of this book. Imagine being a kid who can never grow up who has the power to fly through a world woven of dreams and fairytales....I learned later that this was probably the sincere wish of the author, James Barrie, who was afflicted with a disease which made it impossible for him to grow. Though an adult in mind, he was the stature and semblance of a child. The warmth of this story has a deep heartfelt resonance in the heart of any boy who has grown up having adventures in his mind. It can't really be described -it has to be read and appreciated. If you love fantasies in the vein of The Never Ending Story and The Wizard of Oz, you will love this book.

Best Audio Book in my ten year search
Driving with young children in the car quickly convinced me that it was unsafe to not give them something to listen to. After ten years I have collected a large (30+) bag of books-on-tape. I have also loaned them to others and asked for opinions. Peter Pan (read by Wendy Craig) is not only my favorite, but also the favorite of my wife and most of my friends. It is excellent for all ages (4 to 80) and even most hardened teenagers. Humour, presentation, ... a prefect 10.

Peter Pan: The Complete and Unabridged Text
Published in Hardcover by Viking Press (1991)
Authors: Scott Gustafson and James Matthew Barrie
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Peter Pan
Quite honestly this book was one that I found I could simply not put down. This book was beautifully written by one of the greatest authors of our time. The characters were very well devoloped, from Peter to Wendy to Starkey the pirate. The imagery was amazing and I did not need the illustrations to be able to see what was taking place. Parents, I encourage you to buy this book for your children and also for yourselves.
I must say that I cherished the book and enjoyed it far more than the Disney movie. Peter's conceit was among the funnier moments, along with his memory.

"How clever I am," he crowed raputerously, "oh the cleverness of me!"
It is humliliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter was one of his most fascinating qualities. To put it with brutal frankness, there was never a cockier boy.
But for the moment Wendy was shocked. "You conceit," she exclaimed, with frightful sarcasm; "of course I did nothing!"
"You did a little," Peter said carelessly, and continued to dance.

The scene above was one of my favorites, for it is rare that Wendy was ever sarcastic in any way.
In any case, this book is a marvelous lesson for children (and teenagers such as I) who fear growing up. So long as you are pure of heart, Peter will be there and you shan't ever grow up. Not really.

A delightful book to read - I loved it!
I read this book just this year when my Language Arts teacher told us to read a book that had "good ideas". I've seen and loved the Disney version of this classic and wanted to read it. This book is so funny and enjoyable! It is about the adventure the Darling children (Wendy, John, and Michael) have when Peter Pan show up one day in their nursery room looking for his shadow. He takes them away to Neverland and they have all sorts of wonderful adventures. This is a great book for all ages! Enjoy!

A lovely version.
Peter Pan is among my favorite children's tales. This a particularly lovely version because it's unabridged and has beautiful illustrations. In this version, the story and characters take on a rich quality that is missing in the Disney and other shorter version. Nonetheless, I think the the original version of the story is better appreciated by teens and adults. For young children, some of the shortened versions work better. As your own Peter Pans start to grow up, hand them a copy of this book. Maybe they'll learn to fly in their imaginations for at least a little while longer!

Count Your Way Through the Arab World (Count Your Way Around the World Series)
Published in Library Binding by Carolrhoda Books (1987)
Authors: Jim Haskins, Dana Gustafson, and James Haskins
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Count Your Way Through the mind of the writer of Arab World
The book was a disappointment to my kids and me. The book focused on very unrealistic pictures of the Arab ways. The book didn't count through the 24 countries but focused on the writer imagination of what the Arab world like. Sands, Camels, desert and market the Arab world is a modern beautiful cities. There were no Arabic words through out the book to let the kids learn basic greetings. My kids had a look at it for a minute and they lost interest straight a way. The Arabic numbers are badly displayed and they are clearly were put manually after the book was laid out. We need to give our kids an education that's why we are spending the money buying these series. I will not buy any of the other book series since I had a look at this one.

Intersections: Science, Theology, and Ethics
Published in Paperback by Pilgrim Pr (1996)
Author: James M. Gustafson
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The focus is on medical ethics, not science and theology
Collection of speeches done by Gustafson on medical ethics. The theology aspect unfortunately is not focused on and was the reason I took out the book. If you are interested in medical ethics, you might find this of high quality, but seeing as how I am not interested in the topic I cannot judge its quality in covering that topic. Ian Barbour wrote a good book on the science-theology intersection for those of us who don't care about medical ethical details.

Vortex Methods and Vortex Motion
Published in Paperback by Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics (1991)
Authors: Karl E. Gustafson and James Albert Sethian
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Advertising and The Business of Brands
Published in Paperback by Copy Workshop (01 February, 2001)
Authors: Bruce H. H. Bendinger, Ann Maxwell, Beth Barnes, Elizabeth Tucker, Anthony McGann, Robert Gustafson, Carla Lloyd, Tom Jordan, Jon Wardrip, and Jim Avery
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Brief Versus Long Psychotherapy: When, Why, and How
Published in Hardcover by Jason Aronson (1995)
Author: James Paul Gustafson
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