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The Craftsman Paperback – March 31, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0300151190 ISBN-10: 0300151195 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300151195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300151190
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this volume, author and sociologist Sennett (The Culture of the New Capitalism) launches a three-book examination of "material culture," asking "what the process of making concrete things reveals to us about ourselves." Taking in everything from Pandora and Hephaestus to Linux programmers, Sennett posits that the spirit of craftsmanship-an "enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake"-is tragically lacking in many areas of the industrialized world. Craftsmanship, by combining skill, commitment and judgment, establishes a close relationship between head and hand, man and machine, that Sennett asserts is vital to physical, mental and societal well-being; the symptoms of craftsmanship-deficiency can be found in worker demoralization, inefficiency and waning loyalty from both employees and employers, as well as other (largely institutional) effects. Sennett looks at the evolution of craftsmanship and the historical forces which have stultified it, how it's learned in the areas it still thrives (among scientists, artists, cooks, computer programmers and others), and issues of quality and ability (skill, not talent, makes a craftsman). Sennett's learned but inclusive prose proves entirely readable, and the breadth of his curiosity-delving into the minds behind the Manhattan project, touring Soviet suburbs, examining the methods of Julia Childs-take him in a number of fascinating directions.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Sennett considers an array of artisans across different periods, from ancient Chinese chefs to contemporary mobile-phone designers, in this powerful meditation on the "skill of making things well." The template of craftsmanship, he finds, combines a "material consciousness" with a willingness to put in years of practice (a common estimate of the time required to master a craft is ten thousand hours) and a strategic acceptance of ambiguity, rather than an obsessive perfectionism. Sennett’s aim is to make us rethink the notion that society benefits most from a workforce trained to respond to the metamorphoses of a global economy. Ultimately, he writes, the difficulties and possibilities of craft can teach "techniques of experience" that help us relate to others, and lead to an "ethically satisfying" pride in one’s work.
Copyright © 2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is an easy and inspiring read.
William K. Blickley
I cannot remember any point at which Sennett had a piece of information that was hard to square with his beliefs; anything contradictory seems to have been ignored.
Sean Brocklebank
At times I feel the Professor is droning on a bit too much (for example, when he talks about brick laying, medieval guilds or Cellini) 2.
R. Pokkyarath

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Vince Leo on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
You name it--Richard Sennett breaks it down. Metamorphosis provoking material consciousness? (Three ways: internal evolution of a type-form, judgment about mixture and synthesis, domain shift). Mirror tools? (Two types: replicant and robot). Sennett combines this penchant for analytic break-down with a treasure trove of stories, examples, and experiences, drilling into craft through the finger movements of pianists, the methodology of cookbook Instructions, and much, much more. The Craftsman isn't so much a proof of thesis as an exploration of category, the perfect platform for a widely read and experienced scholar to play with a vast and varied data set. Even with all that information, Sennet eventually settles on a something approaching an article of faith: that craft isn't about things but about values, not about superior skill but about doing a job well for its own sake. Think of it as a theory of sustainable labor in the age of hyper-capitalism.

My BIG GRIPE with this book is that if Richard Sennett believes so much in craftsmanship, why are there so many typos? DOZENS OF TYPOS. Misspellings. Extra words. Here's the end of the second to the last sentence in the book: "the denouement of this narrative is often marked by marked by bitterness and regret." Ya think? If this book was a car, the dealer would be forced by law to replace it. I'm sure Sennett had nothing to do with this, and that he is mortified that his faith in the practice of craft (proofreading, book-making) has been so blatantly betrayed by his publisher (Yale University Press, of the billions in endowment fame), but frankly, reading this book was to experience cynicism of the highest order: A terrible fate for a story so indebted to a job well done.
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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful By RDP on July 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While I found the contents of Sennett's book interesting and even, at times, uniquely thought-provoking, reading the book left me bewildered and dismayed: How could a book extolling the virtues of quality in craftsmanship be so poorly edited? Is the manner in which the book is published a purposeful counterpoint to Sennett's basic argument? Without exaggeration, almost every page in the book held one or more instances of unaddressed typographical oversight. In truth, the book read like a poor translation from another language possessing idioms and phraseology totally foreign to English. If this is the best that Yale University Press can do, I will certainly question any future purchases bearing that name. For the prospective buyer, be prepared for a disruptive read.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By D. Stuart on April 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Richard Sennett (professor of sociology at New York University and at The London School of Economics) is vitally concerned with the devaluation of human values within the context of the new economy.

We live in an age where management decisions can be very remote, and where people's jobs are displaced wholesale, moved offshore, and where human lives are measured by the bottom-line accounting of large organisations.

What Sennett does is put a stake in the ground by asking rhetorically whether our commitment to work - our craftsmanship - is merely about money, or about something deeper and more human. Of course, the answer is that work commitment - the skill, the care, the late nights, the problem solving and pride that go into our work is a LOT more than about money.

In this book Sennett very clearly and thoughtfully dicusses the vital social currency of craftsmanship (and he uses the term in a modern sense - software programmers are craftspeople too.)

The book is timely, especially in a donwturn economy, and it raises many questions about how we value the people in our society. Craftspeople have been devalued of late - how we celebrate the CEO titans! - but maybe the pendulum needs to swing back the other way.

A worthwhile read for managers, for HR people, for craftspeople of all stripes - and for policy makers and economists. If our society is supposed to be more value-based these days (good corporate citizens, good global citizens) then The Craftsman urges us to look closer to home: at our own good people. Well recommended.

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By DRD on October 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a very good, very flawed book. Sennet's ideas are extremely interesting but he is an deplorable writer. He rambles and mixes metaphors regularly, uses obscure anglicisms and archaisms and odd syntax with dismaying frequency. George Orwell he is not. He sites Hannah Arendt as one of his influences, and I seem to recall she was not the most readable writer either.

Amusingly, he mentions that a work of handicraft should be rough, handmade looking... and his prose is all that! It seems to have been written on a tape recorder. He thanks his manuscript editor in the foreword, he should have fired her, there are sentences that make no sense at all, misspellings, and double entendres.
Maybe he did some of this on purpose, like modern art, so the reader would have to slow down and parse every sentence, who knows? He's like an prophet, he needs someone to interpret him in a more accessible way.

Anyway, I loved his ideas, and think this was a very meaningful book for me personally.
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