From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the 1950s, the Edward R. Murrow–hosted radio program This I Believe prompted Americans to briefly explain their most cherished beliefs, be they religious or purely pragmatic. Since the program’s 2005 renaissance as a weekly NPR segment, Allison (the host) and Gediman (the executive producer) have collected some of the best essays from This I Believe then and now. "Your personal credo" is what Allison calls it in the book’s introduction, noting that today’s program is distinguished from the 1950s version in soliciting submissions from ordinary Americans from all walks of life. These make up some of the book’s most powerful and memorable moments, from the surgeon whose illiterate mother changed his early life with faith and a library card to the English professor whose poetry helped him process a traumatic childhood event. And in one of the book’s most unusual essays, a Burmese immigrant confides that he believes in feeding monkeys on his birthday because a Buddhist monk once prophesied that if he followed this ritual, his family would prosper. There are luminaries here, too, including Gloria Steinem, Warren Christopher, Helen Keller, Isabel Allende, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Updike and (most surprisingly, considering the book’s more liberal bent) Newt Gingrich. This feast of ruminations is a treat for any reader.
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National Public Radio listeners have been moved to tears by the personal essays that constitute the series This I Believe. Created in 1951 with Edward Murrow as host, the sometimes funny, often profound, and always compelling series has been revived, according to host Jay Allison, because, once again, "matters of belief divide our country and the world." Oral historian Studs Terkel kicks things off, and 80 personal credos follow. Essays from the original series are interleaved with contemporary essays (selected from more than 11,000 submissions) to create a resounding chorus. English professor Sara Adams avers that one should "be cool to the pizza delivery dude." John McCain states, "I believe in honor, faith, and service." Iranian-born writer Azar Nafisi writes, "I believe in empathy." Jackie Robinson said, "I believe in the goodness of a free society." Rick Moody believes in "the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading." Appendixes offer guidelines and resources because the urge to write such declarations is contagious, and schools and libraries have been coordinating This I Believe programs, which we believe is a righteous endeavor.
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From Library Journal
In an age of disinformation, spin, and lies, NPR’s This I Believe comes as a source of refreshment and useful disquiet. NPR revived this 1950s radio series quite recently, and this collection (not complete at the time of review) draws transcripts from both the original series and its newer version, including some remarkable statements from the likes of dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, autistic academic Temple Grandin, writer and physicist Alan Lightman, novelist and social critic Thomas Mann, economic historian Arnold Toynbee, and feminist writer Rebecca West. Astonishing to hear and astonishing to read and reread, this work is a wonderful addition to any library.