Review of Freedom Twenty-Five, Jonathan Frost, self-improvements books

I finally got around to reading a book that’s been on my pile for quite some time now. In fact, it’s the one book I carried with me during the entirety of the 2012 End Of the World Tour through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st Century Man’s Guide To Life, is an ambitious book.

I don’t know of any comparable attempts to capture a snapshot of the best advice across the disparate fields of fitness, entrepreneurship, personal finance, game, men’s rights, productivity and information addiction, in a product that young men can use to immediately start improving their lives. The greatest asset of this book is that the author has identified and summarized the wisdom of great men who have developed alternatives to the mainstream advice in each of these fields.

Frost has also done a fine job of distilling what he’s learned from his sources into a core of practical, actionable ideas. The author has received many emails from readers about how his book has improved their lives, and I have it on good authority that such emails make him feel warm and fuzzy inside.

But while Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st-Century Man’s Guide To Life is a useful resource, reasonably well-written, and occasionally infused with the author’s rakishly charming personality, it is flawed in several ways.

The problems begin at the cover itself.

The titular phrase ‘guide to life’ betrays the high regard in which the author holds himself, and hints at the arrogant, authoritative tone he often strikes throughout the book. As a reader, I was frequently moved to smack Frost, and remind him that he is mortal. This occasionally condescending tone (which, I also have on good authority, is quite prominent in his ‘real-life’ conversations with friends and significant others) is a mild irritant throughout the book.

Related to that, the author frequently commits the fatal literary flaw of narcissistic self-indulgence. Frost would be well-advised to consider that his readers are far more interested in relevant information that they can use to improve their own lives, than they are in an A&E biography of his short and unextraordinary life. Sections with valuable advice must be sifted out from amid paragraphs of biographical exposition. Few will be more interested in the author’s life story than this reviewer, and even I was moved to skim some of the more long-winded parts.

Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st Century Man’s Guide To Life would also greatly benefit from the stern pen of an editor, as its effective length should be about half of what it is now. Finally, at $14.99, it is priced quite high for the 75-100 pages of quality content that would remain, once the necessary edits are made.

Overall, this was an admirable attempt for a first-time author, and I urge him to take pride in that achievement, while acknowledging the many problems the book has. Indeed, with some scorched-earth editing; the revision of a few sections; the addition of some new material; a substantially diminished price point; and a generous plan to compensate the loyal early readers who shelled out ‘finished-product cash’ for what was, in retrospect, a first draft with a lot of potential…

It could be big.