The research is thorough and the writing compelling in historian Regier's latest, but the appeal of this academic exploration of the art and history of flattery will likely be quite limited. The author of Book of the Sphnix and editor of Masterpieces of American Indian Literature, Regier compiles 128 "rules" of flattery culled from artists, authors, philosophers, statesmen and kings that take readers through the history of what happens "when praise seeks a reward" (Rule 1). Explaining flattery's role in professional and personal relationships through time and around the world, Regier's far-reaching study includes forays into business, art, fable, family, government, gift-giving and God, as well as a double handful of illustrations. Despite its brevity, readers will need patience to stick with it; if they do, they'll be rewarded with a trove of rhetorical-philosophical gems: "Flatteries are the building blocks of fame," "Poets are the aristocracy of flattery," "Flattery is the school for praise." Unfortunately, the total is significantly lesser than the sum of its parts.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.