“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” they say. I’ve heard it plenty of times but I’ve just never been able to buy into it. I do judge a book by its cover–and order food by its picture. You might have the greatest content ever, but if you don’t do something to connect with me, if I never pick up the book–it’s just words that are never read.
For me it doesn’t just stop there. I have a really tough time taking the time to read. I know I should do more of it but I get bored and distracted easily. Let’s face it, in a day of iPods and Kindles, why do I need to buy your pages of words?
That’s why I appreciate Mike Foster and Jud Whilhite’s Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership, the hardcover guide to their Deadly Viper initiative. It is engaging both with content and visuals, a book that’s more magazine than book, similar to Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. It was almost as if they were watching me reading it and just as I’d begin to drift away–BAM–an image of nunchuks or an illustrated comic would pull me back in.
One caution: don’t skip the black pages. As you’re reading along you might flip the page to a white text on black. My brain marked that as an aside, an extra story, when in fact it was the continuation of the previous page. One of the challenges when creating a book that embraces design is to fully marry content and design.
And yes, the content is there too. If I told you there’s a book about leadership and character you’d probably think of the adjective “dry.” But like the art, the writing keeps you engaged and challenged (how can you get bored with ninjas?). At first, many of the lessons seem obvious and common sense but as you read into the pages it becomes clear that these issues of character are something we have indeed glossed over. Integrity and grace are vital to leadership–and to communication as well.
Sometimes I felt challenged, other times reminded. But thankfully this isn’t simply a list of the things not to do. Mike and Jud show you the habits they’ve put in play to fight these “character assassins.”
I don’t appreciate Deadly Viper Character Assassins just because it brings words and visuals together, but because it brings to light those things we’re not talking about but need look at on a daily basis.
Editorial Disclaimer: We received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors for the purposes of review.
Update: A separate conversation about this book and the Deadly Viper ministry as well as some comments on this blog have brought some racial stereotypes and insensitivity present in the design and marketing of the book to our attention. I apologize myself for being insensitive to never noticing this as being a problem. I will say that through all of this discussion I have learned some things and appreciate the dialogue and insight that have come from it.