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Company Man
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 1999
It was a treat to read a novel which featured an African American in corporate America.The book also showed the inner workings of someone suffering from a mental disease. Wade did a good job of presenting a piece of the African American perspective of corporate life without being bitter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 1997
Brent Wade's first novel is a pretty good book. You can see that the author still has a lot to learn about dialogue and pacing, but overall, it's a good first effort. It takes a look at corporate life from a black perspective and reveals the hidden racism and innuendo that is played out daily in corporation boardrooms. It's worth a look. Also check-out "High Cotton" by Darryl Pinckney
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I bought this book after reading a review about it in a black entertainment magazine. That was about 18 yrs ago. I read the book; I enjoyed it...then put it away. I recently moved. Going thru my book collection; I rediscovered this book and decided to reread it. I was not disappointed.

In this book, we get a chance to follow the career of the fictional character, William Covington. When I read this book the first time, I'd begun my corporate career. Unlike the character's career, I didn't quite advance like I'd hope. So this book provided me with an interesting "flashback" to my own early career thoughts and ambitions. Perhaps I was lucky not to succeed. It certainly didn't bode well for William Covington.

I do know that I've learned to tell white co-workers when I've think they've been out-of-line with some racially inappropriate comment. I didn't do this early in my career; I had a southern co-worker take me aside and tell me to "quit" overly catering to white folks. He was right. And I learned.

Maybe this book will help others to do the same thing. Your career is important, but your own self-respect is worth more...at least that's what I decided.

Good luck,

standtall
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on July 25, 2013
Company Man by Brent Wade is a biting and insightful examination of one man's struggle with his racial identity as he forges his reputation and advances in corporate America. What transpires as the narrative unfolds is a complex character study pitting the protagonist's disparate selves against each other. He wrestles with his perception of himself, how his wife sees him, how he behaves around the white executives at work, and how he acts around the few black coworkers he has. Wade slyly exposes the de facto racism inherent in big business with first person prose filled with beautifully crafted sentences that are at times revelatory in their simple truths.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2001
This is a brilliant rendition of the disintegration of an individual's mind. It is particularly significant because the disintegration is based upon racism as its primary etiology. This is an important contrast to what is usually written by the predominant writing members of a racist society who refuse to acknowledge that practicing racism is a mental health disease and that the pyschological damage that the recipients of racism experience, can be and often times is, extremely severe and profound.
(Note: The National Association of Black Psychologists has for years taken the position that racism per se is a mental health disease and those who practice "racism" are mentally ill. Needless to say, the American Psychological Association, a predominantly white organization, refuses to support this assertion.).
It is written eloquently by a young Black man who provides much needed insight into some of the possible psychological injuries that can be sustained when one is subjected to the conflictual circumstances of racist behavior. Yes, it takes a recipient of racism-- that daily denigrating assault on all of an individual's senses-- to be able to truly define, enunciate and then relate to everyone else just how damaging and devastating such an assault can be (an most often is).
This is a painful story fraught with easily identifiable (for the reader) common examples of unsolicited daily attacks directed against a young, intelligent, ambitious African American man who "just wants to make a living, support his wife/family" and because he is college educated and this is America, he chooses to attempt to do so in the corporate world. That Corporate World that he finds is based upon years of being separate and unequal in regard to African Americans.
So "Bill" Covington, known by his friends as "Billy", is ill prepared to daily face the deadly game playing, the subtle and not so subtle gibes, the racist jokes expressed for his own growth and development or his own good. But always the growth and development occurs at the expense of his own sense of being; that is, his own sense of who he really is and most importantly, his sense of self respect and honor.
A split in his Psyche is inevitable: when the Superego ceases to exist and the Ego is lost, the Id takes over. The internal conflict is that he hears voices from the past admonishing him to respond to the present day external pressures by following his grandmother's verbalizations. Verbalizations she spoke to him as he was growing up, out of her profound sincere effort to teach him how to live and be safe in that hostile, sick, unpredictable, aggressive, emasculating "white world".
Her efforts to prepare him for that "white world" by advising him "not to be niggerish" is the negative that he recalls when faced with a major conflict in the white corporate world-- but he does not have a positive course of action, because as he grew up there was no one exposed to the white America available to him to teach him positive ways of getting along in the white corporate world. Thus, he is left with having to turn to the "perceived enemies" within the white world -- namely his white boss and other mentors-- for guidance, support and his next course of action. But this proves to be untenable.
The push/pull on his emotions of trying to straddle the unstable fence of maintaining a viable presence in the isolated, rarefied, upper management corporate world while also establishing a meaningful fighting stance on behave of the "brothers" and all the line-staff literally tears him apart: Who is he? What does he really stand for?
Insecurities, insanities and paranoid delusions all surface to such an extent that Bill Covington begins to believe that people in idle conversations are really asking him who he is, even as he asks himself the same question. He finds himself lost and must seek out who he is. He needs time alone to learn whether he is "Bill Covington (corporate executive) or "Billy" Covington (home town representative).
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