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How to Tell When You're Tired: A Brief Examination of Work (Norton Paperbacks) Paperback – January 17, 1997


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How to Tell When You're Tired: A Brief Examination of Work (Norton Paperbacks) + More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (Issues of Our Time)
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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393315576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393315578
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

PW called this memoir and polemic by a retired longshoreman and "fruit tramp" a "refreshing look at the workplace by a seasoned expert."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Theriault, a former migrant fruit picker and a longshoreman for 30 years, has written this humorous treatise on hard physical labor as a way of life. He gives voice to the thoughts and conditions of the laboring classes and examines the constant struggle for respect and autonomy, the tendency of management to treat workers as merely one part of the production process, the penchant of unions to bargain away the wrong things, the awful grinding tedium and danger, and the sense of accomplishment realized from doing a piece of work right. Theriault's engaging, moving defense of the working class's right to its portion of credit for building our civilization is inspiring. All secondary career education courses should include this title on their required reading lists, making this appropriate for academic as well as public libraries.
Susan Awe, Jefferson Cty. P.L. System, Arvada, Col.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
MBA students are taught to look down on labor, to see laborers as resources to be used. Mr. Theriault reminds us of the dignity inherent in labor, the pains and the pleasures. It reminded me of Studs Terkel's books on working. Parts of it reminded me of Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations". Mr. Theriault earned my respect, both as a working man and as a skilled writer. You might also want to read "Fields Without Dreams" by a professor of ancient classics about his family's life as farmers until they lost their farm.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Reg Theriault's book is simply superb--just the right combination of personal anecdote, philosophical reflection, sociological commentary, old-timer's wisdom, and humor. In reading him, one comes to like Theriault. He's the sort of guy you wish you could work with on your own job or at least meet after work at the local pub for a couple of beers.
Theriault's primary job before retirement was working as a longshoreman in San Francisco. But he was also a "fruit tramp" (a migrant picker) and an occasional factory worker. His credentials as a "blue collar worker," then, are impeccable, and he distills thirty-odd years of experience in heavy physical labor into his book. His two primary conclusions are these: (1) salary is important, but freedom is too. Workers caught in an assembly line kind of job where they're nothing more than anonymous cogs in a Taylorite efficiency machine are more likely to rebel than workers dissatisfied with money. (2) the relationship between labor and management always reduces to the following dynamic: "Management is going to get more out of you than it gives in return. This is a fact of life, and one might as well accept it. If management does not get more--for instance, if it gets less--then why in the hell should it stick around? Your goal is to see that management does not get too much more." (pp. 96-97) Both of these conclusions, although they may appear obvious when pointed out, ought to be kept in mind when thinking about working conditions in this country, not to mention the foreign sweatshops that make so many commodities we North Americans buy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While reading through this work I found that although the author was lifting 154 pound bags of coffee beans on a daily basis isn't all that dissimilar that being a cube dweller. The fact is that sitting in front of a computer in your cube messing with spreadsheets all day long contains many of the same mental drudges but doesn't affor some of the opportunities for the "on and off" time that the author descirbes in his manual labor work.
Though I am unable to verify his statistics I was still astonished at the number of so called "white collar" workers that applied for jobs in San Francisco when the Stevedores Union opened up their hiring a few years ago.
Interesting thoughts and concepts abound, but I found remarkably similar parallels between "cube Jockeys" and the manual labor workers the author is so familiar with. Certainly worth the read.
Steve in Austin, Tx.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mbra on July 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book offered an insight into the psychology and complex existence of hard physical labor that should throw fear into the hearts of management. I was so sad when this book was over and I find myself referring to it frequently as a student of labor management relations. Well worth owning! Great anecdotes and harsh realities that most college kids will never face makes it all the more valuable.
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