I have mixed feelings about this book.
On the one hand, I am thrilled that Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin have described my experience. People know me as someone who has many interests and tends to deep-dive when I decide to learn something. Much of what Mikkelsen, Martin, and their interviewees describe maps closely to my experience.
On the other hand, it reads like one of those navel-gazing, hyper-theoretical, rambly conversations that I have with my neo-generalist friends. I dig these conversations in person. I found that I didn’t want to read the conversation in print.
The book is self-celebratory. The confidence boost may be needed. In my experience, people who have multiple areas of mastery are misunderstood and frustrated by the way others try to pigeon-hole them.
The author’s friends are obviously uber-accomplished in multiple fields. Renaissance people vs. dilettantes. I count myself among the dilettantes – so it was nice to see that I could aspire higher if I so choose.
I think it was the “we’re smarter, more accomplished, and better looking than you” tone that ultimately turned me off. My smarter, more accomplished and better looking neo-generalist acquaintances don’t talk like that. Instead, they are very inclusive, helpful and inspirational. I’m blessed to be counted among their circle.
If the tone of the book turned me off (and I can relate to the authors and the interviewees), I can’t imagine how the specialist-minded will react.
Ultimately, I’m not sure how much this book does the generalist community any favors.