Twenty-five hilarious but sage essays (based on Edwards's ``Office Politics'' column in GQ), laying out an ethical ``battle plan'' to both ascend and transcend today's glazed corporate pyramid. In this razor-sharp satire of contemporary American business- -where executives wield cellular phones (``that Excalibur of overweening ambition'') but not one of them is responsible for the savings-and-loan disaster—Edwards offers sound, workable advice for handling meetings, memos, perks, rumors, even the trauma of getting fired (today less a ``brutal shock'' than a ``lethal injection''). He also identifies the familiar cast of irritants— the infighters, the boss's wife, the ``Pol Pot/Executive VP,'' and the ``toadies'' (like Polonius, who, Edwards contends, would today ``have ended up with a corner office and seven figures instead of a rapier through the gullet''). Forget the ``Take No Prisoners Memo'' (``better shred than dead''), and beware expense accounts (Mephistopheles's ``favorite route into the workplace'') as well as ``Sex Officio,'' for which the author offers nine ``cautions.'' Even post-Clarence Thomas hearings, Edwards's humor lets him get away with pride at possessing the ``secretarial equivalent of an Alpha-Romeo'' and other retrogressive lapses. (``I, for one,'' he writes, ``would be deeply disappointed to see unchecked passion at the copy machine, or to stumble upon Farrah D., executive VP, casting a sexually harassing glance at Scott B., her hard-working secretary.'') Finally, what Edwards demands is accountability, ambition, and excellence. ``Unless we can turn jobs back into callings,'' he writes, ``whether or not those jobs entail collecting garbage, running a nuclear power facility, producing television or transplanting kidneys, the next century is going to be a fine mess.'' Read this for solace and strategy—particularly if you've been handed a life sentence in corporate America. Keep it in your desk, consider sending it anonymously to your boss or George Bush. Tell the back-stabbing drones who ask that it's an essential weapon for recouping our losses to the Japanese—because it is.
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