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Looking for the users manual that should have come with your life? This compendium of socially acceptable responses to every conceivable opportunity for personal embarrassment or inadvertent insult is as close as youre likely to get. Post, great-granddaughter-in-law to the famous Emily, carries on the family business as a recognized authority and frequently interviewed and published author. Far from quaint, her update to the 1922 classic includes sections on how to graciously discuss a potential sex partners past and the circumstances under which one can re-gift in good conscience. These new sections seamlessly co-exist with discussions on perennially necessary topics, such as where to place a soupspoon when setting a formal table and whether one may wear white after Labor Day (the answer is yes). This integration of new material with old, according to Post, follows the same basic principles that underlay Emily Posts original versionshowing respect and consideration for others while placing a premium on honesty, graciousness and deference. The original book was considered revolutionary in its time because it recast manners from rigid Victorian rules into behavior that was based on ethics, values and common sense. This latest version isnt revolutionary, but its useful. It also serves as a reminder of how individual choices may affect others and how easy it is to choosewords, wardrobes, gifts and actionsmore wisely. At 800-plus pages, cover-to-cover reading isnt intended. This is a book best referred to like a wise old aunt who would be consulted as situations warrant. Regardless of how one consumes it, every section, from "Dining and Entertaining" to "You and Your Job," tends to leave the reader feeling a bit improved for the effort and hopeful about Posts assertion that good behavior is catchingthe more it is displayed, the more it spreads.
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It is truly a wonder that more Americans don't consider Emily Post's discourses on etiquette one of the most useful reference books published, next to a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a world atlas. And with great-granddaughter-in-law's modernization, this seventeenth edition, covering birth through death, reflects what must be done concerning hundreds of social conventions. Wondering what are appropriate e-mail manners? Look no further than Peggy Post's list of 10 e-mail transgressions. Want to stifle the boorish conversationalist? Check carefully the author's witty rejoinders. With wisdom, wit, and no small amount of humility, Post carries on well the intent of her family: "Courteous people enrich their own spirits by making other people feel good." Barbara Jacobs
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