Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Health, Household and Grocery Back to School Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Segway miniPro STEM
Customer Review

19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars smug, self-congratulatory pap dressed up as profound insight, November 2, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design (Hardcover)
What an annoying, disappointing waste of money "Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design" by Michael Bierut turned out to be! Nearly all of the 79 essays are smug, self-congratulatory pap dressed up as profound insight.

In their original context the essays would have been targeted at a specific readership and perhaps those readers liked this stuff and were used to it. But when published as a collection, specialist "occupational" essays like these reach far broader audiences who may find the material and style not to their taste - if not downright silly.

Individually, the essays might be worth casually browsing if you have run out of soup can labels; but as a collection read through as a normal book they reveal their shallow superficiality only too graphically. Frankly, after reading the first five essays I already felt cheated.

Take the essay "How to Become Famous", for example. It is basically semi-humorous, insider nonsense that includes exhortations like "when in doubt, make it big. If still in doubt, make it red." OK, that's worth a knowing chuckle the first time you read it, but the humour palls after reading endless injunctions in the same vein.

Here's another example of the pretentious claptrap sprinkled throughout the book: "our traditional conception of graphic design history reduces what is actually a complex and ever-shifting melange of incident and influence to a falsely organised canon of images."

Some of the essays (eg essays 6, 7 and 11) are abbreviated book reviews; but book reviews used as a platform for the essayist to expound his own ideas. In fact, many of the essays seem to be more about their author, the pronoun "I" appears early and frequently, rather than about the subjects themselves. Personally, I find that sort of egotism distasteful, not to mention disrespectful to the putative subject of an essay.

Essays 9 and 10 are obituaries - of a sort. Essay 10 is particularly crass in that the author uses the occasion of another man's death to talk about himself - yet again.

Most of the essays are mercifully short, often only a page or two, so I was able to heave a sigh of relief after reaching the end of one of these forgettable pot-boilers, hoping that the next essay might be better. Such hopes were invariably dashed, and my heart sank ever lower as the interminable pages of the book ground on to the end. Eventually I was able to read one of these essays in about 45 seconds with no loss of comprehension.

Each of the essays is set in a different font, which is not obvious at all if you just flick through all the pages. That's rather novel and I suppose it has some mild curiosity value for the reader.

The design of the book itself is sparsely minimalist. I rather liked that - it's in keeping with the content of the essays.

General readers might glean a few interesting insights into the self-absorption of the author, but I doubt if professional designers would get anything insightful (or even useful) from the book at all. It goes without saying that design students should give this light-weight pot-boiler a miss and spend their time and money on more worthwhile publications.

I suppose I should try to end on a positive note. The Appendix lists all the essays, the fonts used and the original sources. That's helpful in case the reader wants to check out the references, and to note authors and publications to be avoided in future. Oh, and the paper has a nice, heavy feel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 3, 2013 1:56:40 AM PST
M. Benari says:
Can you suggest other better books?

Posted on May 1, 2013 6:30:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2015 3:42:49 AM PDT
This is the funniest Amazon review I ever read.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details