"I need all my children. That's pretty much how she ran the ship."

Smith came from a family of fifteen children whose father had insisted that they not work in the fields like other "colored" families. He decided to write his life story to show how it worked for him to value service over self. His life has been a long progression of accomplishing his goals by passing tests. First, he passed exams in school till he was old enough to enlist in the Army. His goal was to be in the infantry, but he had to pass tests to be a clerk typist. He passed them and then became an infantryman in Korea and Germany and retired with enough honors to work his way up to acceptance to a local university. He continued passing tests and being able to work at more and more important jobs. Eventually, he became an honored member of the American Legion.

This book can be an inspiration to others, especially for those who come from backgrounds where societal advancement has proven difficult. Smith doesn't sugarcoat his family's struggles, relating a time when his mother boldly told a woman who judged her for having too many children that she needed all of them. The author then proudly recounts how she was kind to all of them and that many ended up with successful lives. The narrative does make one wish for more, though, primarily in the area of family vignettes from Smith's childhood. Overall, the author judges his life to be mainly lucky, and the reader can sense his recommendation to follow his example by passing life's tests to attain one's goals.

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