An iconoclastic, consistently wise breakdown of the inanities of corporate life.



A short report on the pitfalls of American business culture.

In this brief, fast-paced work, Harrison (The Great Divide, 2017, etc.) draws on lessons and insights that he’s gleaned from decades spent in the corporate world; he’s worked as a writer, editor, and communications executive for several organizations in the Chicago area, including the Fortune 500 health care company Baxter International. He first takes readers through the hiring process, including “onboarding”—the often slipshod initial orientation process for new hires. He then runs through various types of bosses—including “the ‘credit grabber,’ who takes credit for all successes but blames others for failures” and “the ‘cool boss,’ who tries too hard to be one of the team”—and the varying degrees of humiliation involved in reporting to them all. He also dissects touchy subjects, such as exit interviews, performance reviews, and pay rates, from the viewpoint of someone who’s seen it all and is happy to write about it—and he does so with a frankness that’s often missing from books of this type: “The day I learned how worthless performance reviews are,” he writes at one point, “was the day I got fired…immediately after receiving a stellar performance review.” Several faddish concepts in the corporate world come in for gentle (and not-so-gentle) ribbing; for instance, he dismisses the idea of “facilitators”—outsiders that some businesses bring in to run meetings—although he acknowledges that somebody has to ride herd on the inevitable “loudmouth/blowhard/know-it-all” at such gatherings. According to the author, many corporate problems are ultimately rooted in “companies’ inability to hire the best people to run their various departments and functions.” But his diagnoses of corporate pitfalls and idiocies range far beyond human resources, touching on such things as the semantics of job titles and how faking interest is “a necessary evil in the business world.” In all cases, his stern common sense and irreverence—as in the chapter title “Shaking Hands (and other stupid protocols by which you’re judged)”—will strike readers as a breath of fresh air.

An iconoclastic, consistently wise breakdown of the inanities of corporate life.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4575-6614-1

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?