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How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written Paperback – January 17, 2012
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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From the Back Cover
Hi. I see you’re reading the back of my book. This tells me that you either:
A) are hoping to find a brief summary of what to expect from a how-to book by Sterling Archer, the world’s greatest secret agent, or B) don’t know how books work.
If your answer was “A,” your best bet is probably the table of contents, which is where you’ll find the “contents” of this book listed in a convenient, easy-to-read “table” format. So maybe go check that out for a minute and then come back here. I’ll wait. . . .
Pretty cool, right? What other book will teach you how to dress properly and how to drive an elephant? How to field strip an AK-47 and how to haggle with a Thai prostitute—in her native tongue? How to pilot an airboat and how to make about a million delicious cocktails, including a Molotov one? How to kill a guy and how to prepare a fabulous brunch? Plus how to do tons of other stuff that I forgot, but that is nonetheless probably in this book (which, to be honest, I really only kinda skimmed).
So if you want to learn more about how to be more—or at all—like Sterling Archer, the world’s greatest secret agent, quit smearing your greasy fingerprints all over this book and buy it. For one thing, I really need the royalties. For another thing, the last time I checked, this wasn’t a damn library.
(Note: If your answer was “B,” this probably isn’t the book you want to start with.)
About the Author
Sterling Archer is the world’s greatest secret agent and nowalso probably a bestselling author. A world-class cocksmanand former all-conference preparatory school lacrosse player,he divides his time among New York City, Monte Carlo, theOrient, several of the classier islands of the Caribbean, andGstaad. This is his first book.
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Top customer reviews
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In the tradition of his previous shows, SeaLab 2021 and Frisky Dingo, Reed has created a humorous look at what is presumably a 1960s (though the characters use some modern technology) intelligence agency that is lead by an agent who is arrogant, crass, sexist, egotistical, reckless, and self-serving. He believes he is God's gift to women and the US government, and is ready to share the secrets to becoming a master spy in his new book. The first thing fans of the show will likely appreciate is that this is not just a tie-in book thrown out there by FX to make a quick buck from the show or to promote season 3. You're not going to see pages wasted with "character dossiers" and episode summaries that are taken almost verbatim from the show's web site. This is mostly 100% original material created by Adam Reed (the actual author) for the book, and although you don't get the benefit of the excellent voice acting from the series, it reads just like a new episode of the show. Written in stream of consciousness, Sterling Archer's voice can't help but come out at you from every line and his arrogance is beautifully evident, even from the title, where Archer makes it clear that he makes his own rules in life, and the use of punctuation isn't necessarily one of them. At first glance, the table of contents reads like a legitimate spy manual, with topics ranging from "tactical driving" to "personal finance." However from the first page, it becomes evident that Archer's tactics are very non-traditional, to say the least, and rely more on convenience, his personal needs, and a good bit of luck.
The book has numerous appendices and is divided into the six most important aspects of being a spy (with several subsections under each of those:
Foreword (by Mallory Archer)
Preface (Archer's explains how HarperCollins approached him to do a book)
Introduction by Archer
1. How to Spy
2. How to Drink
3. How to Style
4. How to Dine
5. How to Women
6. How to Pay for it
Appendix A: Maps
Appendix B: First Aid
Appendix C: Archer's World Factbook
About the Author
"How to Archer" is fully illustrated with what appears to be all new and original illustrations. Although they don't add too much to the book and some of them may just seem like clip art, given that Archer is an animated show, I do think they are necessary and add to the format (the cover is even a clever homage to The James Bond 007 Annual). I was initially hesitant to read this, as it seems like it's just rehashing some of the same jokes from the show, and I thought they'd be lost on me in a non-visual/audio medium. Not to mention that I think one of the strongest aspects of the show is the interaction between the characters, and I was worried that a 200-page Sterling Archer soliloquy would be annoying. Fortunately, Reed manages to pull it off and I think it works very well in print format. It's just as clever as the show and I actually found myself laughing out loud (which I never do) several times. Archer's attitude perfectly translates to the book, whether it is the disdain he continually brings up for his publishers at HarperCollins (for not allowing him to write a chapter on cobras), or the entire chapter on Unarmed Combat where he discusses a dozen different fighting styles (none of which he has trained in because the classes were too early in the morning). Here are a few excerpts from the book to give you a sense of the style:
"I had Krieger replace the cyanide in one of my capsules with Binaca, and in the other with Xanax. That way I'm ready for pretty much whatever the day may have in store for me."
"I like to get out to Vegas at least once a year for a heavyweight title bout. Because that's basically like the Oscars for hookers."
"I could not (well, chose not to) attend hapkido training, but I think Steven Seagal holds a ham-flavored belt in it. So if you ever need to fight Marlon Brando's fatter, more ponytailed doppelgänger, just call Steven Seagal and ask him how he would go about it. I just assume he would eat his opponent while growling 'nom nom nom, I was in the CIA, nom nom nom...'"
"How to Archer" is a very nice companion to the show and I think they did about as well on it as they could. There may not be anything particularly revelatory for fans, but for the viewer who isn't satisfied with just getting Archer on their TV, it's a welcome addition.
Easter Egg Edit: The book includes a recipe for "Eggs Woodhouse," which you can see Archer eating at the beginning of season 3, episode 7.
But, humor being completely subjective, I still feel compelled to at least dispel a couple shameful myths put forth by other reviewers.
MYTH: "...three out of four jokes are ripped word for word from episodes of Archer..."
FACT: Let's do some math, shall we? Archer states at the start of the book that he's contractually obligated to produce a manuscript of no shorter than 30,000 words and will, therefore, deliver a manuscript of precisely 30,000 words. As I read the book the second time, I highlighted every word I could find that either retold a joke from the show or even so much as referred to a joke from the show. I even highlighted Alex Karras (whom Lana mentions in Archer S1 E10) even though the joke about him is completely different. Total word count on reused jokes: 322. That's 1.073%. So, essentially, the book is 99% new content.
MYTH: This book "substitute[s] rehashed dry jokes for actual information" and is "not much of a guide to anything."
FACT: This is a book by Sterling Archer, so if you're expecting an encyclopedia on the finer points of covert ops, you haven't been paying attention. Spoiler Alert: you won't actually learn how to become an international spy by reading this book. That said, unless you already know the recipe for Green Russians, or the proper way to prepare Eggs Woodhouse, or how to say "Would you like to have sex with me?" in 17 languages (including Portuguese, of course), then I can assure you this book has plenty to teach you.
For example, from the section on page 19 regarding the martial art of Savate:
"Savate is French for 'face kick.' And while the French have a reputation for being effeminate... I think this is unfair. Because they also have...the French Foreign Legion. So the next time you're feeling adventurous, walk into a bar in Algiers and call a Legionnaire a putain de merde. Then walk outside and feel around in the sand with your hands, trying to find your head."
Not the greatest advice, but at least you learned something (and I bet you laughed, too).