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Diary of a Company Man: Losing A Job, Finding A Life Hardcover – January 10, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“When I was a teenager, The Strawberry Statement shaped my view of
the world and my place in it. Now James Kunen has done it again, with his
acute, observant, funny and moving story of what's truly important in life.
Diary of a Company Man is timely and timeless—a beautiful piece
of writing and enduring source of inspiration.”


—Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One

From the Inside Flap

James S. Kunen—author of The Strawberry Statement, an account of the 1968 student uprising at Columbia University—chronicles his adventures on the road to finding meaning in work and life. He traces his evolution from a rebellious youth who sees working as a kind of death, to a laid-off corporate executive who experiences not working as a kind of death, to a reinvented and reinvigorated individual
who discovers something important and meaningful to do.

The experience of falling victim to America’s recession-ravaged economy (and the people who run it) leads him along a career path far different from anything he had planned. After years of making a living, Kunen finally learns how to make a life. Diary of a Company Man will be a revelation not only to baby boomers but to young people trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762770457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762770458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought and started James Kunen's DIARY OF A COMPANY MAN yesterday, thinking I would read it over the next month or so. I just finished it because I couldn't put it down. The first part of the book is about Kunen's experience in corporate America. I laughed out loud (and chuckled to myself) as he turned a sardonic wit on his climb, his colleagues and bosses. I also felt queasy when he described the day he lost his job and was denied access to the computer he had used to promote the company. In the next part of the book, I felt awe and affection for the ways he refashioned himself and came to adore and inspire his immigrant students. His love for, and playfulness with, the English language made it a little difficult to write this review. I kept wondering how he would write this sentence or that. And I did feel a little guilty while reading the book --next time I stay In a hotel, I will leave a bigger tip for the immigrant woman who cleans the room; next time, I hear a speech from a CEO explaining layoffs, I will attend more carefully to the prose that makes it all sound so efficient and wonder which words were added and which deleted (and consider whether or when that speechwriter will lose her job); next time an immigrant doorman opens a door for me in an apartment building, I will wonder if he was a doctor or engineer back home. This is a special book-- lucid, witty, wise,imaginative, politically conscious, and insightful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Kunen has done it again!

After waiting over 40 years for a worthy successor to his blockbuster, "The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary", Jim has produced another fabulously readable memoir, "Diary of a Company Man: Losing a Job, Finding a Life" that answers the question, "I wonder what ever happened to that guy?"

Jim and I were bookends to the revolution in the 1960's. From being classmates at Andover, Jim went on to drape black bunting over Alma Mater while occupying the Columbia University administration building. I, on the other hand, was in Vietnam finishing my 6th month of combat with the United States Marine Corps. It was April of 1968.

From there, incredibly, we both eventually sold out to corporate America and pursued not dissimilar paths up the ladder - Jim with Time Life/Time Warner/AOL Time Warner/to whatever it's called now. I went into the insurance brokerage business.

Eventually Kunen got fired, having survived (and having had a front row seat for) all of the craziness at Time that ensued. He'd been there 18 years (O.K., really 20 if you read the book...) Eventually I got fired as well after a comparatively paltry 16 years.

I went on to write "Loon: A Marine Story" (Random House 2009), a memoir about my time in the 1960's. Jim was a most helpful and willing guide to me when I began to write. He was the only published author that I knew. He also plays a role in my story (please see "Loon" page 138).

For those of us who watched the Time/Warner saga, and all of the other corporate shenanigans of the past 20 years, unfold from afar, "Diary of a Company Man" provides a cat-bird's seat to the inner workings of a company desperate to adapt while while clinging to its Luce roots.
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Format: Hardcover
Like Jack McLean (Amazon review), I thought that "Diary of a Company Man: Losing a Job, Finding a Life" was terrific. But while McLean focused on the AOL Time Warner years in the book, I was especially taken by the years after that (the "Finding a Life" section). James Kunen had been a lawyer and was always a writer, but he found that the work that made sense for him was teaching English to foreigners--especially immigrants. His story and their stories are very special. Their stories are not unusual--just special. I couldn't get Kunen and his students out of my mind.

He should make plans to write a sequel in ten years or so. I would like to find out what happens to Muhie, Suad and their children, from Iraq; Adam, the track star from Darfur who wants to be a nurse; Carlos from Argentina, who loves being a painter; Reggi, the high school history teacher from Kosovo; Nicole, the "pint-sized Italian fashionista"; the Kurdish refugee novelist Bayram; Jag, the "anchorman-handsome Korean student who wants to be an anchorman"; Kotomi, the Japanese nurse's aide whose Facebook interests are "Chocolate, Jogging, Social Change"; and the others.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one who spent many years coaching and guiding "career explorers" and job hunters, I picked up Jim Kunen's latest book with great interest, curious to see how his career experiences reflected those of my clients in the 80s and 90s. Sad to say, despite the lofty heights Jim had reached (communications director for AOL-Time Warner), the abrupt shove-out-the-door he endured reflected exactly what I had observed in professionals of all stripes, on all levels 20 years earlier. In other words, no matter how much you may give to your employer over years and years, all too suddenly... you could be OUT.

In reporting his personal travails with this widespread syndrome, Jim engages us in the same manner he did when he recounted the political turmoil of the 60s in his first (brilliant) book "The Strawberry Statement." This time around we again get the full range of his reactions and emotions -- shock, confusion, anger, acceptance, humor, mind shift, resolve --- served up in a literary style both comprehensive and accessible. Jim Kunen's latest book both informs us of what happened to him while alerting us that the very same can potentially happen to us all.

You will breeze through this book not because it's fluff but because Jim has a talent for personalizing even the most trying true story so that it's easy (even fun) to absorb. He's done the same in the past with similarly tragedy-centered themes such as his alternately depressing and amusing account of his years as a public defender called "How Can You Defend These People?" It's a style that also helps the reader ease into the latter part of "Diary" in which he faces the daunting challenges of transitioning to a new career. Fortunately-- spoiler alert-- faith and hope prevail at book's end.
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