“Life Against All Odds” is a biography about one man surviving in a cruel world instead of allowing himself to be destroyed by that cruelty. In my opinion, Alfred Cave’s story is about real success. The reason I’m saying this is because many times during Cave’s youth he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time but makes the right choices regardless of the hardships and challenges that keep getting in the way. Every time he falls down, he picks himself up and keeps going—an example many others should follow.
I started reading “Life Against All Odds” on a flight from Oakland, California to Phoenix, Arizona. By the time I landed in Phoenix, I was half way through the story. I had to talk to someone about the book, so I picked a captured audience, the driver for the shuttle bus from the airport to the car rental agency. During our brief conversation, he told me he knew all about discrimination. I said he should read this book and tell others about it. I said it was a slice from history that should not be hidden or forgotten.
I finished reading “Life Against All Odds” on the flight back with more than an hour of flying time left. It would have been nice to have another fifty pages about Cave’s life to fill that hour. Cave is blunt at times with his opinions. In fact, he’s like many of us working stiffs. He’s too honest, and that’s what I admired most about this biography.
Alfred Cave’s story starts in Jacksonville, Florida when he is born in 1930. It doesn’t take long before his father Earl and his mother Sarah are gone. Alfred was a few years old when he was orphaned and separated from his older brother and sister and sent to live with his step-grandmother. Imagine being beat with a plank of wood that had small nails in it so your body has puncture wounds that bleed and stain the bed sheets with your blood leading to more punishment.
Alfred Cave survived that episode and tried to run away. He was caught and brought back to a possible worse fate leading to another, but this time, successful attempt to run away to avoid an even worse form of abuse that managed to catch him later while living off New York’s tough streets. Most kids that experience abuse like Cave end up joining gangs, taking drugs and getting in trouble with the law. Not Cave. He was smart and made the right decisions. With some help from a few good people, he survives, but it is never easy.
The fact that Cave survives growing up without being turned into a basket case is evidence that he is a resourceful individual. What he goes through is enough to break most people. Eventually, Cave joins the army starting as a private and more than twenty years later retires as a major. He did all this on a GED. Ending racial segregation in America started in the military and that is another aspect of Cave’s biography—the history behind those changes. Cave was part of that military history and that is another powerful story in his biography.
Cave is a fast learner. He doesn’t hide his flaws either. He puts it all out there—his mistakes are on display too. In other words, he is made of flesh and blood.
We learn from Cave’s biography that there are cruel, damaged people walking around with the rest of us, but at the same time we see good people that become his friends—those that do not judge a person by the color of his skin, his nationality or his religion. It doesn’t matter what skin color a person has. Evil comes in all colors but so does good. This story shows us that Cave is one of the good guys.
If you want to read a powerful story about how one man survived discrimination, this biography does the job. Alfred Cave deserves to be in the history books and never forgotten. If it weren’t for people like Alfred Cave and the friends he made during his journey through life, I doubt that Barack Obama would be in the White House as America’s 44th President.
Life Against All Odds
By Alfred Cave
Life Against All Odds at Amazon.com