An appealingly different view of employment based on what people actually do and not just statistics.

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SHADOW WORK

THE UNPAID, UNSEEN JOBS THAT FILL YOUR DAY

Former Harvard Magazine deputy editor Lambert (Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing, 1999) reviews the effects on the labor force of practices such as self-checkouts at grocery stores and how they are reducing the availability of entry-level jobs.

The author profiles how such changes tend to eliminate these jobs and consumers' own labor is used as a substitute for the lost employment. Lambert attributes the readiness to accept such increased burdens to a submissive “middle-class serfdom” produced from a work ethic of self-reliance. These days, shadow work “represents a major—and hidden—force shrinking the job market.” The shift, writes the author, is often based on consumers' lack of awareness, since “to get millions of people doing shadow work, it’s imperative to avoid consumer choice in the matter.” Do-it-yourself types of labor, undertaken voluntarily—at the gas station, a food-dispensing kiosk, or online at home—eliminate services that have been taken for granted, and the DIY movement is attractive to consumers seeking to reinvigorate their lifestyles. Downsizing, technological attrition through automation, and the outsourcing of the menial tasks of a business’s operations are some of the causes behind this global transformation for prospective employees and the unemployed—the author cites a World Economic Forum statistic that "young people aged 15 to 24 make up 17 percent of the global population but 40 percent of the unemployed." Lambert examines a variety of industries, including retail trade, food service and restaurants, airlines and travel, highlighting ongoing changes and their effects. Many of the jobs that are being replaced by shadow work are entry level. Without the entry-level jobs—e.g., bank teller, office secretary—the author wonders whether anyone will be able to build the skills necessary to work his or her way up the pyramid of opportunity.

An appealingly different view of employment based on what people actually do and not just statistics.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61902-525-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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