Convention of Statesmen


Review of Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips

I know I'm reviewing a lot of good books lately, but I've been taking a little break from life and just immersing myself in good reading. A foreword by Glenn Beck was all I needed to pick up the book, Caught in the Headlights: Ten Lessons Learned the Hard Way by Barry K. Phillips. Endorsements by author, Jason F. Wright, Congressman Chris Cannon and radio personality, Pat Gray got me to open the book. Barry's writing and his sense of humor kept me reading.

From the back cover we learn a little more about the book:

"We've all had those 'deer in the headlights' moments when we realize we've been chasing the wrong things. Caught in the Headlights: Ten Lessons Learned the Hard Way is a frank, insightful look at 10 key goals most of us think we want--only to discover our eyes are on the wrong prize. Barry K. Phillips not only entertains, but also examines common values and enlightens us to the goals we should seek, and what to do differently now that we know better.

Phillips is a writer, comedian and cartoonist. This was one of the most delightful and informative books I've read in quite some time. He covers ten different topics, such as: Happiness, self-esteem, pride, freedom, control, tolerance, forgiveness, success, the big event and the perfect body. All things each of us pursues at one time or another in our lives.

Phillips helps us, through self-deprecating humor, to come to the realization that what we want isn't always exactly what we need. One of my favorite parts of the book is near the beginning, a humorous disclaimer. Playing off the "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" slogan for the city of sin, Phillips offers the following disclaimer to those indulging in the darker side of life in Las Vegas:

"Offer valid for persons with no conscience or moral character only. Persons being condemned at the judgment seat to a toasty place in hell may not use this offer as a legal and binding contract. While Satan was involved in the creation of this offer, he cannot be held responsible for your actions. After all, he IS Satan. Persons repenting later may experience a shortness of breath, deep sorrow, and excessive amounts of regret. Offer intended for the use of our regular, soulless clientèle only. Offer not valid where prohibited, including all aspects of your life once you return home."

When I stopped rolling on the floor with laughter, I found it oddly profound. I mean, really, think about what that slogan offers the takers: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." But Phillips is right, as he points out. God knows what happened in Vegas too. Ouch!

Each chapter is accompanied with a delightful cartoon and insightful commentary on life and the things we can learn, if we are only willing. I think once you've read this book, you'll find it one you'll return to often. Only 104 pages it's a quick, fun read with some lasting lessons.

Lucky for us, Barry decided to drop by and visit, so I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions:

I understand you wrote for Glenn Beck's Fusion Magazine. Can you tell me how that came about?

Yes I did. Believe it or not, I just asked. This was a few years ago, when I first started listening to Glenn. I went through his website and found the email address of the General Manager of his company and emailed him. He referred me to his brother who actually ran the magazine. He, the Editor, told me to send them some samples written in the Fusion style. I'd never seen the magazine and told him so, but sent along some samples. A few days later he contacted me and said, "when you can write you can write!" and they had me start writing. Glenn was about to go on his Christmas tour for that year, and they wanted to meet me, so I went to Boise and met Glenn back stage. That's the short version, but that's how it all began. I suspect that wouldn't work today, given how big Glenn has become.

Where did the idea for Caught in the Headlights come about and what's behind the title?

The book just came from things I've gone through. Have you ever seen how deer get frozen in their tracks when headlight's hit them? This book is about those "caught in the headlights" moments that I've experienced in my life – moments that I think we all experience – where I've realized I was after the wrong things. The thing is, even if you get those things, you come up wanting. The ten lessons in the book are about very common things that we think we want, but we really don't.

I loved your approach on these different pursuits which seem to consume people, what about these drew you to write about them?

I was amazed at how many people have dealt with these same issues, but so many never figure out how to learn the lessons. You know the old adage, "if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Breaking the cycle of repeating the same old things is pretty hard to do, so I thought others might benefit from what I've learned. Besides, Harry Potter was already out there, so I couldn't write those again, now could I?

Which one is your favorite chapter and why?

I guess my favorite part of the book is probably the chapter about wanting control over your life. Sounds like a nice idea, but it's really not as good as other options that that I talk about in the book. There are some great lessons I learned about that, and they've really made a difference in my life.

I understand you also drew the cartoons included in the book. How long have you been doing that?

Yes I did. Growing up, I always thought I'd draw for Disney or maybe do a cartoon strip. So I've done that for a long time. I have a confession… I thought up all 10 cartoons in about a two hour period, while mucking out our horse stalls. Maybe the manure cleared my head, or clouded it, depending on your point of view.

Tell us a little about yourself and what's in store for the future?

Well, I'm married, have five kids and love to hot-air balloon, cook, camp (with a large trailer, not exactly roughing it), golf (not well, but I get my money's worth with all those extras strokes per hole), and I follow most major sports. Feeding the family wise, I'm currently creating an online university for a major corporation. I am in the process of writing my second book, which will hopefully have a lot of humor… at least I'll think it's funny. I don't want to spill too much more about it just yet, but I hope to have a rough draft complete in a 3 or 4 months.

Where can Caught in the Headlights be purchased?

I was hoping you'd ask that! It can be purchased online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. But if you'd like an autographed copy, and some other free things that I've written, you can buy it directly through my website at It should also be in major bookstores sometime in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

I really loved this book. Phillips is now ranked amongst my favorite authors. Caught in the Headlights: Ten Lessons Learned the Hard Way is a Must Buy!

Trade Paperback:
116 pages
Cedar Fort (June 2, 2008)
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches

Post your questions for Barry via leaving a comment and he will drop back by to answer them.
Review of Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips Review of Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips Reviewed by Candace Salima on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 Rating: 5