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Showing 1-10 of 28 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 53 reviews
VINE VOICEon January 21, 2012
Alford has written for Vanity Fair, The NY Times and The New Yorker. He has written three books and is often heard on NPR. The pros: I loved the writing and his rapier wit. The book is filled with colorful stories, anecdotes, surveys, experiments and interviews. He also offers up some thoughtful recommendations on appropriate manners and etiquette.

The challenges? I anticipated some logical sequencing and organization prior to opening the cover of a book on manners or etiquette. However, this is not your Mother's Reference Manual on Etiquette & Manners. This witty book is a random walk on the subject where often times you get lost in the story missing the etiquette punch line altogether. The author lurches from discussions involving the appropriateness of slurping noodles in Tokyo, to accepting all friend requests on Facebook to asking how much rent you pay in Manhattan, to stealing a cab.

A number of recommendations were thoughtful:

* Don't return a phone call with a text. "There's an implicit hierarchy of communication. If you go lower on the hierarchy, people will think there's a subtext."

* Don't overuse the word "thx" in emails especially to a sender that has spent considerable time sending you an email. Take a moment to use the sender's name and spell out Thanks. Tone is often lost in email and it's important that the recipient not misconstrue your intention.

* If someone sends you a gift certificate, why not send that person a photo of what you bought or at minimum tell them what you bought.

* Is it rude if someone refuses to accept your friend request? If you've actually met in the flesh, then yes, it sounds like it is. It's rude, too, in instances where you have not actually met, but have enjoyed a long period of correspondence or phone calls, or have heard about each other for years and years through mutual friends. However, before we become offended, it's important to consider the snubber's FB modus operandi. Some people on FB only friend family or people they are offline friends with; others want to friend every single person they can possible get their cyberpaws on.

A taste of his humor:

* If two people are staying in a hotel room, it is highly hospitable if one or the other of them gets into the habit of sometimes using the bathroom located off the hotel's lobby, particularly for lengthier sit-downs. To do so is to reduced aroma and anxiety, disperse foot traffic, and inject mystery into the relationship.

*(Teaching foreigners how to steal a cab) You've got to be out in the traffic. Out in the traffic but not run over. But you've got to be a little brazen. And the rule for stealing a cab is that you've got to walk at least a block upstream. So people don't see you. (Setting aside that there might be) a harried-looking businesswoman also trying to hail a cab (and you've just jumped the line)
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on September 6, 2012
I read a short sample of this book, as well as an insightful review, and so I was perhaps a little more prepared for the content and tone of it than other reviewers. Rather than being about "manners" from a traditional point of view, Alford's commentary is more frequently about how people, from all walks of life, relate to each other in all kinds of scenarios and in many different settings. Some of his discourse begins to feel quite lengthy and felt a bit self-indulgent, while others seem to be more insightful. Example, insightful: "The essence of good manners is not exclusivity, nor exclusion of any kind, but sensitivity." Example, lengthy: "This anthropologist's quest to pin good manners to gelatin in the manner of a lepidopterist continued apace; let it be said that the complications of protocol slowed me." The book's saving grace are Alford's laugh-out-loud gems, which are worth the price of schlogging through the rest. My favorite part of the book was a quip that may only be new to me, but I love it: "'I feel like I'm wearing orthopedic shoes,' I said. She shot me a look of incomprehension, so I explained, 'I stand corrected.'"
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on January 16, 2013
I read this last month and have already forgotten it, which means I can re-read it at any time. He's pleasant and cheerful though this is no more than a grab bag of essays loosely bound by the topic of manners and customs. I found myself wondering "Who do you have to know in New York to get a deal like this?" I too would like to visit foreign lands and be paid to write about what I did there, so I salute the author for pulling that off. I will read his future artiles as they appear elsewhere but I'm not likely to spend money again to spend time with Henry.
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on April 13, 2015
I found this book more amusing than useful. I had really hoped to discover some new strategies for dealing with rudeness ...without escalating the situation.
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on January 21, 2015
SO far this book seems likely to deliver. I like the writers wit and style and I purchased it exactly and only because of what other reviewers commented and I am satisfied.
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on November 15, 2016
Extremely disappointing. The actual discussion of manners and how they differ among regions and cultures is very minimal. Other than to tell you that different people have different ideas of manners (Duh!) the book does nothing to increase understanding on the subject. Mr. Alford did not seem to learn anything himself or have much insight into his own behavior.

What I did learn was:
1. The author sure likes to hear himself talk.
2. He feels a great need to tell everyone else how to behave.
3. He might be one of the most annoying people to be around and well practiced at being rude himself.
4. Has a writing style that uses a lot of words and long sentences yet remarkably, conveys little information.

I agree with another reviewer in that Mr. Alford's humor is probably funny only to the 1% while chuckling over wine and caviar.

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on January 12, 2012
Henry Alford's new book about manners is fun to read and a great way to spend an otherwise dreary afternoon, as I did. It's written by a young author with a young person's perspective and is largely going to be a book most welcomed by his peers, (a large middle chunk of it has to do with online etiquette and this has been covered by many authors recently) so its current value reflects his generation. Alford offers some very funny tidbits and he's most successful when comparing American manners to those in other countries, notably Japan.

The author writes with a deft and thoughtful pen. Early on, he reflects on the "demise of civility" but also entertains that people are far more mannerly than they were in the Middle Ages. I'd like to think this was true, especially the next time someone honks at me at a red light (turned green) for not moving out of the starting gate fast enough. "Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That" is definitely worth a read.
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on October 13, 2013
Having been immersed in traditional etiquette and manners guides, from the title of this book I had expected examples of egregious "in-your-face" breaches of commonly accepted manners or the "modern" version of earlier writers on the topic . Irreverence and humor with a touch of haughty indignity are connoted by the title. This book is a mildly amusing, strangely (to me) arranged, not organized, series of anecdotes. It includes a "hierarchy" of ways of behaving and some quotations of others that are worth remembering. Overall, a disappointment.
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on May 7, 2015
I found this book nearly unreadable -- although I did make it through to the end.

The prose is often convoluted and the author's tone waspish and snide. Etiquette is not elitist but you would never know that from this arch attempt at sounding breezy and with-it. A thoroughly unpleasant experience.
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on May 24, 2014
I laughed a lot while reading this: A great bookj from beginning to end. And to top it off, I learned a lot about etiquette.
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