My Books

The George Washington Rulebook of Achievement

The Handbook for Success

I wrote this book because I needed it:

A handbook of life, a simple list of rules and principles you need when you’re trying to change yourself into the man or woman you want to be – 

one I could keep in my back pocket and page through it every once in while, when I lose sight of my goals and need to remember what I’m supposed to be doing here in this world.

Losing My Religion – the Book

Loving and
Losing God

I was a believer – so much so that I went on a mission (to Germany) for the Mormon church. Then came the doubts, and I had to leave.

But just because you no longer believe in God doesn’t mean you don’t miss him.

A book about what really happens in the Mormon church, and a memoir about faith, doubt, and the hole that God leaves behind

I write thrillers in German with Astrid Ule

German Books

My first book in German was a travelogue of a year-long trip through Germany in search of the Middle Ages (and yes, I found it).

There followed half a dozen non-fiction books, often about German culture through the eyes of an outsider, and then came the novels, most notably a trilogy of thrillers about a profiler in Berlin.


Be kind, but not ingratiating; be generous but not foolish; serve, but be not subservient.

The George Washington Rulebook of Achievement

Available on Amazon

The George Washington Rulebook of Achievement

No man or woman is born great.

We all have dreams and goals, but no one is born with what is necessary to achieve them.

Over time, we learn – from what our parents teach us, from self-help books and from great examples – what we need to become the man or woman capable of achieving our goals, but in the confusion of the daily struggle, we constantly lose sight of our goals and need to remind ourselves of them in times of quiet.

I wrote this book because I needed it:

I wanted a book that contained all the rules, examples, principles and cautions I had learned but needed reminding of. I wanted it them short and easy to comprehend, and preferably in a slim book I could keep in my back pocket and page through from time to time.

That book was already there – it was the book George Washington used in school to practice handwriting by copying out rules of etiquette, referred to today as “The Rules of Civility”

Those rules of behavior ranged from “Don’t pick food out of pot when it’s over the fire” to “Keep in your heart the flame of conscience always alive.”

Many rules were outdated and many principles developed over time by the self-help industry had not then existed – so I edited the book, modernizing and expanding it from 110 rules to 237. They range from rules of modern etiquette and social interaction like using your cell phone in public or arguing online, to rules regarding purpose and the soul, including good habits that must be trained, learning self-confidence and saying a prayer of gratitude every night.

This book is meant for people like me – and if you are, like me, a man or woman who strives to achieve something in life, but needs to change themselves first to become the person you want to be, this book is for you.

Rulebook of Achievement Rule 13

Do not read

Do not read, surf the internet or consume media while walking or in the company of others, unless that is the agreed-on activity; also when alone, do not consult your phone when it has not made a sound – this habit leads to a nervous character.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 221

Every day, achieve

Every day, achieve some success, no matter how small.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 128

Know when

Know when to be patient and when to act boldly. With loved ones, with yourself, with some circumstances and plans, be patient; with most plans, goals and your public persona, be bold, even to the point of attracting criticism, recognize when patience is appropriate and when it is a form of cowardice.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 65

In debate

In debate, articulate your position based on your own experience and knowledge; do not repeat opinions you have simply heard or read.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 202

Do not imagine

Do not imagine that anyone of the opposite sex will ever see the world as you do; do not expect them to approve of your behavior nor live according to your standards.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 105

Establish routines

Establish routines to avoid the stress of having to repeatedly make the same small but time-consuming decisions every day; set up your room, workplace and computer in a way that makes repeated processes efficient.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 119

Know this

Know this: What you think about constantly over many years, you will become.
Rulebook of Achievement Rule 190


Forgive – first, those you know, then life in general, then yourself.
You Will Find Love – the Book

You Will Find Love

An illustrated poem

It’s with great pleasure I present work of Cornelis Cornelius, poet and digital artist. This book is a poem of hope and reassurance for those living for a brief moment without love – it was concieved and created to give only this message: That you will find love.


I first met death in a little German town called Krefeld

Losing My Religion

Available on Amazon

Loving and Losing God

“When I lost my faith, a vast sense of loss descended upon me and everything good and beautiful about this life on earth – God watching over us, the promise that we will return to him – all that was gone. And I was left to search for another reason to live.

I was a Mormon missionary for two years in Germany and was a dedicated believer for much of my life.

Then the disillusionment – and the feeling that I wasn’t living my own life – grew so much that I had to leave.

It was the hardest thing I ever did.

Now, many years later, I look back and see more than just the reasons I had to leave – I also see the good things I left behind.

“Losing My Religion” is at once an honest and intimate look at the Mormon church – its dogmatism, its society-within-a-society, its history and its exceptional theology º and it’s my personal story of believing and losing faith, and the gaping hole it leaves behind.

25 Things You Didn’t Know About the Mormons

Kirk's Reviews

A candid and thoughtful reflection on faith, reason, and art

The author, in limpid prose, fleshes out a fascinatingly complex religion, which he convincingly argues is the most American of spiritual traditions. His philosophical restraint is admirable—far from repudiating Mormonism, the author actually succeeds in broadening and deepening the terms of its appraisal.

– Kirkus Reviews

Blue Ink Reviews


Those interested in the intersection of religion and personal choice will find his memoir both forthright and insightful.

– BlueInk Review

Foreward Reviews

His observations on faith and doubt are compelling

The generally lighthearted tone sometimes belies the serious nature of Hansen’s story, which is also one about loss. … His is a wholly human story—not about a lightning-bolt transformation, but rather about a gradual erosion of beliefs. What remains is a quest for meaning.

– Foreword Reviews


A very personal and immensely entertaining book … the personal story of a spiritual emancipation.

– B2 Radio, Katholische Welten

Chapter 1

The Black Pit

I met death for the first time in Krefeld.

Krefeld is a beautiful, clean little German town between the Rhine and the Dutch border. I had come here on a two-year mission for the Mormon church, in which I was raised and in which I believed. My job was to knock on doors and hand out pamphlets to strangers in an attempt to get them interested in the faith I loved so much that I was willing to sacrifice two years of my life in a foreign country to share it with the world. It was the early eighties, I was nineteen and this was the first time I had been away from home for an extended period.

The man who taught me about death seemed like a nice guy at first. Young, thin, well groomed, intelligent, probing eyes. We met on the street. My missionary companion and I offered him a pamphlet about the church and we talked a while.

He said he wanted to hear more. He invited us to come to his apartment a week later. He said he wanted to read up a little first.

When we arrived, he was prepared. He sat us down on his couch and started talking. We had expected to do the talking. He had spent the week reading up on everything he could find about the Mormons, and for two hours he explained to us in excruciating detail everything that was wrong with Mormonism.

He started with Joseph Smith, the 19th century church founder, and his many sins, mainly his multiple wives, some of whom were underage when he used his authority as self-proclaimed “prophet” to pressure them into marrying him; some were already wives of other men at the time.

He went on to the bloody Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which Mormons slaughtered over a hundred unarmed men, women and children.

He explained why the Book of Mormon was a fraud, how the rites of the Mormon temple were stolen from the Freemasons, and more. Much more.

For the first half hour or so, I took it. When you believe in something like I believed in the church, you can accept a lot of contradictions without wincing.

Think of the Catholics and the virgin birth. Catholics aren’t dumb. They know there is no such thing, but it doesn’t contradict their faith because faith stands above mundane biology.

For me, it was the theory of evolution. I was raised to take science seriously. It was never questioned in our household. For many people, evolution contradicts God, for us it didn’t.

On the contrary, we often speculated on how God must have used evolution to create life on earth. Surely, God too has to utilize the laws of nature to do what he does. It was easy for me to get past the theory of evolution and still believe.

It should have been easy for me to get past what this man was telling us, too.

Okay, Joseph Smith lied about having more than one wife. So what? Mormons killed innocent civilians in the heat and confusion of the mid-19th century Mormon Wars. Do you know how many deaths the Catholic Church directly and indirectly caused in its history?

These are horrible things, but they don’t disprove faith.

What I couldn’t get past was the sheer volume of his arguments.

And this man presented them in bulk. It was endless. He made the church seem like it was invented by the Devil himself.

After an hour or so of fighting off his attack, we just sat there, dumbfounded, and took the battering he gave us. Nothing in the world was as bad as the Mormons. By comparison, the witch hunts, the Inquisition and the Crusades were almost positive. After all, the Inquisition and the Crusades had ended, but the perpetration of the delusions upon millions of people all over the world by the Mormon church continues to this day.

The blast of hatred was too strong; the doubts he awoke in us came too fast and were too many for us to beat back. In the end, he was victorious.

I remember shaking his hand, thanking him politely for the pleasant talk, assuring him that there are answers to all the questions he posed, walking out of that apartment, down the street and crossing a large parking lot behind the open-roofed shopping mall the Germans call a Fussgängerzone, or “pedestrian zone.”

That’s when it hit me.

I had to stop. I felt weak. For the first time in my life I seriously considered the idea that the church might be a fraud: If even half – no, if even a third of his claims were true, how could I stay in this church?

But it was even more than that: If this church was not true in all it pretended to be, then no church was true, no religion was true, and ultimately God did not exist.

I understood the final consequence immediately: If my faith was a lie, then death was not a step into a new stage of life, but a step into nothingness.

In that moment the parking lot seemed to open up beneath me into a bottomless pit, and I saw what I had never seen before:

Without the church, without God, without faith, death is an endless black hole from which nothing can escape, not life, not love, not humanity, not meaning.

And certainly not I.

I have never felt so alone, before or since. I have never felt so vulnerable. I have never been so overwhelmed by raw meaninglessness. The sun seemed to turn black in the sky, it felt like I was walking home in darkness in the middle of the day.

I never did recover, not fully.

In a few days I got back to the point where I could function. I was eventually able to recognize that the young man had wanted to hurt us. He simply loved destroying things that were important to other people. There is a part of our culture that celebrates what Germans call Rechthaberei – being right. If you can prove someone else wrong, you are superior. That’s all he was doing.

But I had already seen the black pit. I could not unsee it. That vision would never go away. I still see it today.

I didn’t know it then, but that was the beginning of the end of my faith.


Take responsibility for your life, actions and mistakes, even for those parts you have no control over.

The George Washington Rulebook of Achievement