THE FORCE by David Dorsey


Email this review


 Freelance journalist Dorsey offers an unsparingly detailed account of a year-long span in the professional lives of a four- man/three-woman group of high-caste hucksters who work out of Xerox Corp.'s district office in Cleveland. The author's thoroughly absorbing take suggests David Mamet and Arthur Miller may have pulled their punches. Dorsey's resonant title alludes not only to the seven-member major-accounts team headed by Fred Thomas, one of 67 regional sales operations, but also to the ultraconfident state of mind that can make a salesperson feel ``like an athlete playing in the zone.'' On the evidence of the author's anecdotal narrative--which follows Thomas and his crew as they attend staff meetings, take to heart the do-better lectures of superiors, call on clients, party among themselves, and entertain prospective machine buyers or lessors in carriage-trade watering holes--angst is the tie that binds sales reps at Xerox (and, in all likelihood, other major enterprises). Thomas, for example, worries constantly about meeting or exceeding budgeted revenue quotas, in large measure to win the approval of a manic boss he respects, while his materialistic subordinates fret about their commissions and such carrot/stick rewards as a three- day trip to Palm Springs. At a minimum, fear of failure appears to keep them focused, and they're obviously prepared to do whatever it takes to reach designated objectives. As it happens, a psyched-up Fred & Co. succeed in engineering enough consents to achieve virtually all individual and collective goals by year-end, albeit at no small cost to their personal relationships and peace of mind. At the close, most make the California cut, gain promotions, and otherwise get on with their rat-race careers. An acutely observed slice of commercial life that's consistently engrossing and ultimately depressing. Come May 18, Xerox Corp. could have second thoughts about the carte blanche given Dorsey. (First serial to Esquire; Fortune Book Club selection)

Pub Date: May 18th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-41030-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994