Book Review: Happy, Happy, Happy

Happy, Happy, Happy:  My Life And Legacy As The Duck Commander, by Phil Robertson with Mark Schlabach

As someone with a slight interest in the Duck Dynasty family [1], I found this to be an interesting book going into it.  I must admit, though, that I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  To be sure, the author includes a great deal of discussion about his life, and this certainly falls into the type of narrative where an author talks about his bad old days of drunkenness and drug use and debauchery and then contrasts it with his present honest and clean living, and that sort of book can often come off as a bit preachy in the best case scenario.  Unfortunately, this is a book that does not even quite manage the best case scenario, as the author’s humorous anecdotes about how he was once ahead of Terry Bradshaw on the depth chart as QB in college at Louisiana Tech before his lack of interest in the game led him to quit are more than counterbalanced, sadly, by the author’s insults of people as nerds and his rather self-righteous attitude towards other people that expresses itself here.  This is not as appealing a book as it ought to be, unfortunately.

Previously published as Legend of the Duck Commander, this book is in terms of its length a fairly conventional memoir at just over 200 pages, so as not to be a difficult read in terms of length for its intended reading audience.  In terms of its structure, though, this book is organized around fourteen preachy rules that serve both as the place where the author gives a generally chronological account of his life from a childhood of rural poverty in Louisiana to a rough period in his 20’s that included problems with the law as well as separation from his wife, and then a slow climb from obscurity to fame as the owner of a duck calling business.  This story was actually quite enjoyable, as were the author’s family anecdotes and his straightforward approach to evangelism, but what was less enjoyable was the way that the author felt it necessary to preach a Luddite form of existence that is opposed to modern technology, tells people not to let their grandkids grow up to be nerds, encourages nepotism in hiring practices, and has a lot to say about sharing the Gospel as well as eating crawdads.  Far too often in this book, the author’s evident desire to spread the faith is hindered by his being a judgmental and not particularly likable soul.

In looking at this book, it was easy to see how this book could have been better.  To be sure, the author has an intriguing story to tell and certainly there is much of interest.  But it is hard to look at this book and not see the potential wasted.  It’s nice that the the author thinks that he is imparting eternal truths with his commentary, but he shows little obedience to God’s laws (the Sabbath and clean and unclean meats come to mind here pretty readily), nor does he show a great deal of compassion for other people.  It is probably a good thing that it was the author’s more laid back son Willie that ended up bringing the family into superstardom, because he is at least an appealing sort of person who has the patience and graciousness that can at least charm people.  The author seems somewhat heedless about the rules and self-righteous to boot, and while there can be plenty of appeal in someone who is clean-cut and follows the rules and plenty of appeal in rakish people whose charisma blinds us to their moral flaws, when someone combines rakishness and self-righteousness, it is not an appealing picture, sadly.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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