Author: Robert V. Smith

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

ISBN:  978-0-89672-740-3

These days with self publishing made readily available and easy to use, everyone seems to be an expert at something, although sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of close product examination to prove that statement wrong. Nevertheless, ‘self-help’ books continue to pour forth; some interesting and useful, most not. Robert V. Smith’s The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage is a worthy exception; what makes this book interesting, readable, attractive,and what is most important, useful, is the simplicity of its premise: take a well known work of literature and apply its themes to everyday modern life and ‘Bob’s-your-uncle’.In other words, in this case, follow the yellow brick road of your own life towards whatever your emerald city is; be accompanied along the way by your scarecrow, tin man, and lion and as a result, maybe wisdom (learning), heart (loving), and courage (serving) will find you and be an important part of your life thereafter.

Robert V. Smith has pursued a career as faculty member and administrator at five research universities in the United States. Currently he is serving as the chief academic officer at Texas Tech University; he is the author of several professional development books.

It would be wrong to call The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage just another self-help book because it is much more than that. Much better to identify it as a guide to personal and professional growth. In his Introduction, Smith explains his book: “What I call The Way of Oz drives from [L.Frank] Baum’s original tale and its sequels, the life story of its creator, and the derivative lessons for you and me from all these elements .... all crafted as a guide to adolescents - in particular for students ...aspiring to enroll in college. ... The Way of Oz is intended as a guide and a set of tools for lifelong learning, loving, serving, and leadership.”

Smith discusses Learning, Loving, and Serving in separate sections in his book. In the section on Learning, for example, Learning is introduced as  an integrated subject connected to Reading, Writing, Communicating, and Traveling and each of those topics is dealt with in a chapter length section. In the chapter on Learning and Writing, Smith discusses Note Taking, Journals, and Formal Writing which includes the proper use of references; he even explains and warns against plagiarism. The text-book dryness of the subject matter is avoided throughout by the wonderful illustrations of Dusty Higgins ,an award winning illustrator and graphic artist. In addition Smith has made his even more intellectually attractive to modern students by imbedding in the text quick response barcode icons and URL’s that link the reader to a series of videos related to the substance and messages of the content at hand. 

Robert V. Smith’s The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage is a worthwhile family reference volume and would form the basis for an enjoyable and interesting family study project this coming winter.

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