Most helpful critical review
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Generally Good Information In A Dated Book
on May 12, 2006
I have read several books on body language, and find this book in the middle of the pack. The general information in the book is good overall, though rarely surprising. Although body language probably does not change within a culture very rapidly, this book is very dated, and was, in fact, originally published in 1971. The book betrays its age by references to elaborate hair grooming and preening customs among hippies, and an extensive analysis of smoking behavior during business negotiations, which, while still a factor in some predominantly Asian countries, is now a nearly defunct custom in most of the west, certainly in corporate America. While people interested in the history of body language may find the accounts of pipe lighting and cigarette extinguishing practices interesting, it is largely a distraction. The illustrations also reveal the age of the book: they are all black and white pen and ink drawings, and while they are not terrible, there are much better illustrations available now.
Having said all that, there is some good information in the book, and I think the book would be especially useful to people new to thinking consciously about body language. I like the quotations that begin every section: everyone from Shakespeare to Pliny the Elder is quoted, and they really do set the tone for the section that follows.
Interestingly, one of the reasons many people are interested in body language is in the field of romance, and while the dust jacket primes the reader to expect a full accounting of flirtation, in reality the book only devotes four pages to "courtship;" at any rate there are many better books specifically geared to that on the market. The book does offer some genuine insight into posturing in business negotiations, though, and I can say that while there are no Earth-shattering revelations presented, the book is worth reading for that set of insights alone.
On balance, I would probably give this book three and a half stars, but I can't give it four because it's just too dated. It is a decent introduction to body language, but I would look at other more recent books first.