If you are into motivational reading and you have listened some of the inspirational gurus, you know what they are preaching. For instance a motivational speaker asserts: “The difference between a successful man and an unsuccessful one is given by their different thinking style.”Apart from being a truism, one can ask oneself: “OK, but what is that difference that pulls some people out of the mediocrity area towards success?”That is why a good book can really motivate and inspire us.
A motivational book, even though it wasn’t written to be included in this category, is the real and dramatic story of a Russian fighter pilot from the WWII who, after his plane was shot down by German enemies, lost his both legs through amputation. Alexei Meresiev’s drama is tied to his incapacity of flying (his passion for flight is beyond imagination). Iron-willed, he manages to use his leg prosthesis in order to walk normally, to run, and even to dance. After a titanic fight with the destiny and after the refusal of the army generals to let him rejoin the army, he manages to return to flying, proving that his talent and his passion do not know the human obstacles. Practically, after a battle with his own body, the character starts a battle with people, who, after finding out that he has prosthesis, cease to see him as a capable man. There are some superb passages where they find out, astonished, that the man who is running or dancing, or flying a plane has something less than they, but he also has an enormous plus –will and passion. It is a fascinating and touching book and, apart from the political ideology, we can see it for what it is: a life lesson or a motivational lesson. Alexei Meresiev survived the war, but he died in the fifties from heart failure.
In Russian public schools the book is now part of the Literature curriculum. There is also a movie and an opera by Prokofyev based on this story. The novel had a great success being reprinted more than 80 times only in Russian.