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By Michael Thompson
Move out of the way “Tiger Moms”; it’s time we appreciate, in the words of New York Times best-selling author and radio personality Larry Elder, “Junkyard Dads.”
“When I was 15 years old, my father and I had a fight, and we didn’t end up talking for another 10 years,” Elder said.
Elder’s father served as a Marine in World War II but found that fighting for freedom abroad didn’t translate to freedom at home. A son of the South, Elder’s attempts to find employment in a region where Jim Crow still reigned forced him to relocate to Los Angeles.
Instead of racial discrimination, he was faced with a more subtle discrimination: Applying for a job as a cook, he was told he had no references.
Undeterred, Elder’s father would eventually land a job as a janitor and then work two jobs to make ends meet.
“Forget about a Tiger Mom, I had a Junkyard Dad,” said Elder, referring to the fact that his dad slept about four hours a night for 10 to 12 years because of the arduous schedule he maintained to support his family.
“As a little kid, you don’t realize what’s on. I didn’t realize he was working two jobs, going to night school to get this GED. Didn’t realize he was cooking for a family on the weekend, too,” Elder said.
“It helped put into perspective some of whippings I took and his gruff nature,” Elder said.
When asked by Carlson what message people should take from reading this book, Elder said, “Be appreciative that you have a father in your life; it’s never too late to fix your relationships with your family if you’ve drifted apart. Don’t assume bad things without talking to your family.”
“Stunning … a wonderful read … a page-turner … a handbook for life.”
The words of advance praise from another celebrated author convey just how powerfully mesmerizing readers find “Dear Father, Dear Son.”
Released by WND Books this week, it’s 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.
“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,” Elder explained. “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 10 years.”
“And then we did – for eight hours.”
The result can’t be described. It has to be experienced.
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.
Boyar said the book “is filled with emotion.”
“It is, of course, a handbook for life,” he continued. “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.
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.
Watch the interview:
Elder also was scheduled appeared on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and is set to appear on the Hannity Show Thursday and on Huckabee on Nov. 24 or 25.