A short and simple title that accurately describes this book’s raison d’etre. Fortunately, it need not apply to this author to deal with reviewers of his excellent book, which mixes humour and sage advice together to deal with what can be a very serious and troubling problem for many, especially at work.

It is more than just a book with a humorous title, mouthing a few platitudes. It has the benefit of ‘science’ – well academic research to be precise – and the author could informally be described as a professor of asshattery and assholes, although you could imagine that the field of academia is not yet ready for such descriptive faculty titles.

This non-medical man (whose day job is being a professor at Stanford) has been examining a-holes for well over a decade and he is not a closet proctologist. Instead he looks at how bad behaviour can destroy the workplace environment and all that should go on there. Of course, much of the same advice and observations can be applied to one’s private life, but there you can often choose friends… it is harder to choose your family and work colleagues though. As well as giving advice to identify the problem and hopefully reduce its impact, if you cannot exclude it, the author is also wise enough to know that we can all be a bit rogue at times, so we can look inwards and, if necessary, remove our head from butthole and behave better.

The tone of this book is perfect. It is a serious read with a humorous overtone, giving authentic, credible and valuable advice. Hyperbole and false hope has been left at the door, something many other self-help book authors could well emulate. It might not be the cheapest book at the bookstore, but if you are suffering from external asshattery it can be a worthy purchase and what price is your sanity in any case? Many people tend to write to this author, based on his previous books and ongoing research, and it did make me nearly spit coffee over my tablet when reading how a Lutheran pastor even wrote to complain about dealing with some volunteers with asshat tendencies, even though it was not confirmed whether the reverend gentleman let his Christian good thoughts slip and use the a-word!

The author pulls together a great mix of research, case studies and real-world ‘unscholarly’ examples to great effect to highlight the extant problems, before seeking to show strategies that may reduce or remove the problem. No guarantees are given, but the advice is worthy of a try in any case. Even a slight respite or reduction is better than nothing. If all else fails, then give the book anonymously to the chief offender with a taped note to the front saying “read this, you need it!”

As you may guess, it was an enjoyable read, even though I have no need for its intelligence presently. Mind you, if I sent it to my CENSORED I am sure…

The Asshole Survival Guide Book Cover The Asshole Survival Guide
Robert I. Sutton
Business & Economics