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This is my first post, and reviewing books is new to me, so I hope to give a useful review of my reading, beginning with the book I finished this morning.

You're Too Kind : A Brief History of Flattery by Richard Stengel is exactly what it sounds like: a book about the history of flattery. It traces flattery from chimpanzees and the Old Testament through present-day Washington, D.C. and Hollywood (the book was published in 2000) and sheds light on many areas in between. The description on the back of the book is as follows :

Okay, who was the first flatterer? If you guessed Satan, you'd be close, but according to You're Too Kind, flattery began with chimpanzees, who groom each other all day long. In fact, flattery is an adaptive behavior that has helped us survive since prehistoric times.

Our flattery is strategic praise, and to illustrate its myriad forms, Richard Stengel takes us on a witty, idiosyncratic tour, from chimps to the God of the Old Testament to the troubadour poets of the Middle Ages, all the way through Dale Carnegie and Monica Lewinsky's adoring love letters to her "Big Creep."

Flattery thrives in hierarchical settings like royal courts or Fortune 500 boardrooms, and it flows both upward and downward. Downward is usually easier, but studies show it works best on those who already have high opinions of themselves.

Stengel sees public flattery as an epidemic in our society, and private praise as being all too scarce. More often, though, flattery these days is just a harmless deception, a victimless crime that often ends up making both the3 giver and the receiver feel a little better. In short, flattery works

As a side note, it was interesting to finish it off this morning while watching the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's proceedings this morning. Lots of flattery. The book itself was very amusing, very factual, and entirely relevant. It even gave tips for giving and receiving flattery.

Genre : Social Science/Pop Culture.
Length : 280 pages, not counting the Notes or Acknowledgment sections.
Rating : 3/5 = Worth the read.
Next : Bram Stoker's Dracula.



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