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An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy: How Manners Shaped the World Hardcover – October 18, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The sharply designed and strikingly illustrated book offers page-length discussions of everything from “Ring Kissing” to “Close Talkers.” Concise biographies of significant figures in the history of good behavior are interspersed tactfully throughout: Erasmus, Mrs. Beeton, Lady Bird Johnson.” –Washington Post

"Refinement in table manners signals that a person has taken time to consider what best suits other people, whether they're seated at left or right, or across the table," declares the brand-new "An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy: How Manners Shaped the World" (National Geographic, $40) by Bethanne Patrick. "No wonder that elaborate dinners are often a precursor to being hired in large, formal companies — he or she who demonstrates deft precision with cutlery will usually practice the same when faced with a crucial deal." –Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Bethanne Patrick is a writer and book critic who blogs as The Book Maven. A graduate of Smith College with a master's from the University of Virginia, she hosts an online author interview show for PBS affiliate WETA. Her features, profiles, and reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, The Writer, and People.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; First Edition edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426208138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426208133
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Common courtesy is at an all time low just when common courtesy is so important to a fragile, downgraded society. There are reasons for table manners, conducting oneself in public, at business meetings, in the midst of sticky situations and being aware of the needs and traditions of others here and abroad. This is not a stuffy Miss Manners instructional, but rather a fascinating and entertaining fact and trivia filled book that gives the history of handshakes, eye contact, elbows off the dinner table, dressing properly for an important occasion, and saying "I'm sorry". It's a fun read, a must read and a please share!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book arrived quickly and in good shape. The contents however are actually worthless as far as I'm concerned. The topics are each one page and extremely shallow. Don't waste your money on this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was VERY disappointed in the content of An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy. I was looking for the history of WHY we have certain manners i.e. why we take our elbows off the table, why men take their hats off in the presence of a lady or in elevators, why men walk on the outside towards the street when with a lady, why women had to cover there heads in church.
She may have made reference to a few of of these things, but they were just referred to as happening and buried in 3 paragraphs of verbiage. I may see if I can return it

I anyone wants you know the history of manners, they are not going to find it here.

An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy: How Manners Shaped the World
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book for my daughter, who is majoring in Emergency Planning/Administration & International Studies/World Crises. I hoped the book would be set up by Country, and then broken down into the current individual/cultural courtesies and mannerisms that would be necessary knowledge for a person traveling the globe. It was not. It seemed more involved with historical idiosyncrasies of the country than current issues. As for as a "coffee table book," it's great; otherwise, a buyer might want to research beyond the scope of this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I always want to like light trivia books, especially those on less usual but specific topics. A trivia book on courtesy and etiquette seemed like a winning proposition for me for light reading.
Unfortunately, when every entry about a topic I am comfortably familiar with has major errors, I can't feel any of the other entries are at all trustworthy.
A few examples from the point when I began flagging the major mistakes I was reading. On page 172, the entry "Taking Part," about Jewish bar and bat mitzvah, insists that those terms translate literally as "good boy" and "good girl;" they don't but rather they translate as "son/daughter of commandment."
On page 204, "The Perfect Prefect," the author conflates prefect with head boy (the head boy is often or normally chosen from the pool of prefects, but there is a single head boy and multiple prefects in most settings). Then the discussion, focussed on the use of the titles in the Harry Potter book series, mistakes Bill Weasley for his younger brother Percy.
On page 213, "The Great Leveler," prints a mid-20th century IDF military poster upside down.
With basic editorial work and fact checking this poor, I can't recommend this volume at all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some of this stuff I knew. Many of the entries were kind of superficial and I found myself wanting to know more. The attractive format limited how much could be printed. But there were new facts aplenty. It's a very attractive book, great for a gift.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A really disappointing book, though beautifully designed. That was the problem for me: The design was much more considered than the content. There are very short, rather superficial discussions of the manners of our and other times. It simply does not give enough. I imagine this is a series format, and thus limiting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I discovered this book in the sale section of the National Geographic catalogue and it was a super buy. I bought one copy as a Christmas gift but enjoyed it so much that I bought several more books from Amazon. Manners still matter regardless of our obsession with digital technology that I also use and enjoy.
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