By Michael Thompson
“I read the entire book in one sitting; I could not put it down.”
This description of New York Times best-selling author and radio personality Larry Elder’s new book “Dear Father, Dear Son” is part of the glowing reviews at Amazon.com for his “24/7 page apology to his father, Randall Elder.”
Published by WND Books on November 13, Elder appeared on Fox and Friends, Hannity, and CNBC’s The Kudlow Report last week to promote the book.
“Dear Father, Dear Son” is a personal memoir of Elder’s troubled – one might even say tortured – relationship with his father, and the astonishing outcome that develops when Elder, at long last, confronts him.
Says Elder: “A man’s relationship with his father – every boy, every man lucky enough to have a father in his life has to figure that out. My own father? I thought I knew him – even though he seldom talked about himself. And what I knew I hated – really, really hated. Cold, ill-tempered, thin-skinned, my father always seemed on the brink of erupting. Scared to death of him, I kept telling myself to find the courage to ‘stand up to him.’ When I was fifteen, I did.” After that, said Elder, “We did not speak to each other for ten years.”
“And then we did – for eight hours.”
The result can’t be described. It has to be experienced.
“All who have read the book have come away with the same impression, the same sensation of reliving their childhood and remembering their relationships with their parents,” said Elder.
“I gave a copy to a friend of mine, Joseph Bezak, who is an ex-Marine that served in the Gulf during Desert Storm. He’s now a cop with the Los Angeles Police Department. I gave him a copy of the book and within a few hours, he started sending me a series of text messages,” said Elder.
The texts read as followed:
“12:57 am: My god, I just started reading your book. I finished the first ten pages and I’m hooked. It’s bringing me back to memories of my childhood, running away, getting the belt! Wow!!!!!! Tell you more tomorrow. Love it!!!!!!!!!!
“1:16am: Oh my god, my grandma used to cut me and my brothers hair in the basement next to my grandpa’s work bench. It looked like she put a bowl on our heads and cut around it.@ Larry I swear to god, I am crying and laughing on page 17. This book is hitting home for me and I experienced all of these things to.
“1:42am: Me and my brother Jim had bunk beds! Ok sorry for the blow by blow but this book is amazing!!!!!! Oh my god my grandma Bezak used to make us get a branch off her old willow tree, to give us a wiping!
“2:02am: My father was killed when I was 4 years old, I think I told you that. But I remember my grand parents slept in single beds, and later as me and brother grew up they slept in separate bedrooms.@ Ok goodnight! I can’t sleep now, I want to keep reading!!! Me and my brother fought like junk yard dogs.
“3:32am: 1/5 through the book tonight! Outstanding!!!!! Goodnight.”
“Dear Father, Dear Son” also has made an impression on Amazon.com, where it continues to be a top seller. One reviewer wrote:
“Larry writes as he speaks – with humanity, humor, and intelligence. In all the years I’ve been an ‘Elderado,’ I wasn’t ever aware of the struggles in Larry’s relationship with his father; not until this book.”
Also, “I have ‘known’ Larry Elder for many years. As an avid listener to his radio show and someone who has read every one of his books, I feel I ‘know’ him. I admire his intellect and continue to learn from him every time I listen. His command of facts and knowledge of events both recent and in the past, boggle the mind. In this respect, I ‘know’ Larry.
“Reading ‘Dear Father, Dear Son’ was, for me, enlightening as well as heart-warming. I read the entire book in one sitting; I could not put it down.”
Also: “I am grateful for Larry’s candor in his sharing his conflicts. One can’t read this book without stepping back and examining one’s own family background, wondering if things might have been different if more communication had taken place. I grew up during the same period as did Larry, and as I look back, I understand that family communication was not the same then as it is today.”
And: “So many things I wish I had asked while my parents were living. What was always my understanding of each of my parents’ reasons for doing things or not doing things, might have become more clear, had we had the conversation Larry had with his father. And although I never had such a conversation with either of my parents, reading this book did lift some of the fog for me.”
The reviewer would continue, “Stepping back into the era when Randall Elder was struggling to make his way, how many unfair and cruel thing he overcame, and as Larry writes ‘he never learned to hate,’ fills me with admiration for such a man. This is the caliber of man who instills awe in me. He came from a generation where men and women did what was needed, didn’t blame others for their problems, rose to whatever challenges were put before them, and did the best they knew how to do. This book was clearly a letter of love to and about Larry’s parents. I feel I know Larry even better now, and I am grateful.”
Another reviewer at Amazon would write:
“Once I started I could not put the book down so read it in one evening. Without giving too much away, all I can say is that this is not just a book about a strict father and a son who grew up hating him. This is a story for ANYONE, MALE OR FEMALE who was raised by very strict parents. I identified with many of the situations such as having my father come after us girls with a belt and me running away from home to escape from him…..But this book is more than just this.”
Concluding their review, they stated, “This book is incredible in that once we find out why Mr. Elder’s father was so angry all the time, we come to understand him, sympathize with him and grow to love him for the enormous pains and sacrifices he made and the conditions he was forced to live with as a child growing up in a very ugly time in America. To me, this is a story about redemption, of understanding, of misconceptions due to lack of knowing one’s circumstances they had to endure as a child, etc. It’s a fabulous read and made me examine my own life and my relationship with my own father.”
Upcoming appearances for Larry Elder include an appearance on Fox’s The Huckabee Show, with Gov. Mike Huckabee on November 24 and 25 at 8 p.m., to discuss “Dear Father, Dear Son.”
Elder will join Tavis Smiley on his hugely popular “The Tavis Smiley Show” at 12:30 p.m. eastern on November 20th to discuss “Dear Father, Dear Son.” Smiley’s show is broadcast on 727 affiliate stations around the nation.
As reflected in the book’s subtitle – “Two Lives … Eight Hours” – one extraordinary, all-day conversation between Elder and his long-estranged father utterly transformed their relationship. It is no exaggeration to say the book will likewise transform readers.
Indeed, calling it “stunning,” Burt Boyar, co-author of the bestselling autobiography on Sammy Davis, Jr., says of “Dear Father, Dear Son”: “Above all it is a wonderful read. I am tempted to call it a page-turner but in my case I hated to turn every page because that meant I was getting closer to the end and I did not want it to end. … The book is filled with emotion. It is, of course, a handbook for life. I guess it is that above all things. Any kid who reads it and follows the advice of how to live his life just has to come out well.
“Dear Father, Dear Son” is the story of one man discovering a son he never really knew. And of the son finding a man, a friend, a father who had really been there all along.”
Larry Elder, a “firebrand libertarian” according to “Daily Variety,” has been the subject of profiles by both CBS’ “60 Minutes” and ABC’s “20/20.” His previous best-selling books – “The 10 Things You Can’t Say in America,” “Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America” and “What’s Race Got to Do with It? Why it’s Time to Stop the Stupidest Argument in America” – all have met with critical acclaim.