"Eric Hoffer: An American Odyssey." by Calvin, Tomkins

Book Cover

Eric Hoffer was born in 1902 in New York. His parents were immigrantsand had settled in the Bronx a couple of years before his birth. Hismother died when he was seven. Eric Hoffer went blind shortly after hismothers death. His sight returned when he was 15 and because of hisdisability he never attended school.

After regaining his sight, Eric Hoffer began reading and studying on hisown. His father died in 1920 and the woman who had cared for him sincehis mothers death left America. Eric bought a bus ticket and movedacross the country to Los Angeles and for the next 10 years worked as amigrant worker following crops and work up and down California. Duringthis time Eric Hoffer continued to read and learn.

Eventually Mr. Hoffer began to put his thoughts to paper. He developed amethodology where he studied a subject until he was able to put histhoughts down into a simple sentence or two which he called hisaphorisms.

In 'Eric Hoffer, An American Odyssey', Tomkins records conversations hehad with Eric Hoffer over a two year period of time. The stories arepersonal and expose much of the man behind Hoffer's popularphilosophies. This is an outstanding introduction to Eric Hoffer and histhoughts.

One of my favorite of Hoffer's aphorisms is included in the back of thebook:

Man's thoughts and imaginings are the music drawnfrom the taut strings of the soul.The stretching of the soul that produces music isthe result of a pull of opposites --opposite bents, attachments, yearnings.Where there is no polarity -- where energiesflow smoothly in one direction-- there can be hustle and noise but no music.

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