ARC Review: The MineFields by Steven C. Eisner

Format read: hardcover from publicist
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 311
Genre: business fiction, autobiographical fiction
Publisher: When Words Count Press, LLC
Formats Available: hardcover, ebook

Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon , Barnes & Noble,


From an early age, Sam Spiegel single-mindedly pursued an entrepreneurial path that prepared him to transform a small-time ad agency into a regional powerhouse with national ambitions. A couple decades later, Sam had achieved almost everything he ever dreamed possible as the ad agency’s rainmaker, fountainhead, and unflappable pursuer of success. One final goal remained: To consolidate his gains by attracting an international advertising conglomerate and cash out. That’s when the nation is hit with the most unthinkable tragedy, and Sam begins to take stock of his own life, finding that he is growing weary of the relentless hunt. Unsatisfied in his marriage and embroiled in a mind-boggling professional crisis, everything Sam had achieved is put at risk.

My thoughts:

There seemed to be a really thin line between the fiction and the autobiographical in this book. So thin that it was impossible to tell where the character of Sam Spiegel left off, and the author’s real life filled in the blanks.

Which made reading this book a lot like watching the proverbial train wreck; you know it’s going to be a bloody, gory mess, and you’re still fascinated. You can’t turn your eyes away. The author’s blurb is a spoiler for the big event in the book, the real, or is it the fictional, story is in the details.

The description teases that this is based on or similar to Mad Men. I haven’t had that pleasure. What it is definitely about, much more than advertising, is the rise and inevitable fall of a closely-held family business, and the stresses and strains of trying to patch together a none-too-solid marital partnership by substituting a business partnership that only works if everyone stays at the top of their game indefinitely.

Which doesn’t happen in real life, and wouldn’t make very good fiction either.

Family golden boy goes through meteoric rise (relatively) and catastrophic fall (absolutely) does make good fiction. What I kept wondering was how much of the author’s life was fictionalized to make the story?

It’s hard to get past the temptation to do a Google search and find out.

But as fiction, The MineFields reads like Sam Spiegel, the main character, is telling you his life story over drinks. It’s his perspective, first-person point-of-view, with all the strengths and weakness of first person POV.

Sam knows how to tell a good story, but it’s pretty clear that he’s the star of his own show. Always has been, always will be. Even when he’s hit rock-bottom.

And because Sam is an ad man after all, his story is reads like he’s trying to sell us his version. Or maybe he’s trying to sell himself.

He sold me enough that I couldn’t put the book down. But I can’t stop myself from wondering whether a few things at the end are true or wish-fulfillment on the author’s part.

I give The MineFields 3 and 1/2 stars.

3 thoughts on “ARC Review: The MineFields by Steven C. Eisner

    1. That was it exactly! It sounded a LOT like real life. I kept asking myself, exactly where the line was? How much was the author’s real life, and how much was fiction? I was never sure.
      Also, I’ll admit, the author’s growing up years reminded me a lot of mine. Transplant Philadelphia to Cincinnati, and he could easily have been a neighbor. The nostalgia appealed to me, but that wouldn’t have worked for someone else.

    2. it did remind me of real life. I kept wondering which parts were real, and which were fiction.
      And there was a nostalgia factor for me, which definitely had an influence. Exchange Philly for Cincinnati, and the author (or the character) and I could have been neighbors growing up.
      Deja vu all over again.

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