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ZIG: The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar
Doubleday/WaterBrook, 228 pages, $21.95

Hilary Hinton Ziglar, better known as Zig Ziglar, has led a remarkable life. Born in "L.A." ("lower Alabama") and raised in Yazoo City, Mississippi, he overcame adversity and poverty to build a successful career in business, public speaking, and writing motivational books.

There's a clear hunger in America for Ziglar's enthusiastic style (his 27-year-old See You at the Top sells 50,000 copies a year). It may seem hokey and simplistic, but it also hits people where they live. Is this a story worth reading? Is there a message, or is Zig merely a jovial valedictory of three decades of achievement? Would a reader sense that Ziglar's faith is more than a stylish adornment?

It's a pleasant surprise to say that, for the most part, Zig is worthwhile. It's a quick read, but it doesn't gloss over Ziglar's dramatic business failures, or the agonies his career choices brought to his family.

Through it all, as National Public Radio once noted, Ziglar is the genuine article. There's little artifice in his presentation, little gloss over the ugly parts. Instead, we see a man, eventually humbled and trusting in Jesus, who faces his life unflinchingly, sharing stories that offer insights into his life.

A Southern boyhood

The world in which young Ziglar made his debut no longer exists. Yazoo City had its social structure, and as one of a dozen children in a single-parent household (his father died from a malarial infection at age 48 when Ziglar was a young boy), Ziglar's place in that world was not secure.

His energy and enthusiasm suffered occasional strains: bullies targeted him at school, and a youthful venture into a country club's pool—off-limits because ...

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In the Magazine

January 2003

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