- Paperback: 326 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (March 31 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300151195
- ISBN-13: 978-0300151190
- Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.7 x 2.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 363 g
- Customer Reviews: 80 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #156,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Craftsman Paperback – March 31 2009
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"Eloquent and persuasive."—Scott Nesbit, Culture
"As Richard Sennett makes clear in this lucid and compelling book, craftsmanship once connected people to their work by conferring pride and meaning. The loss of craftsmanship—and of a society that values it—has impoverished us in ways we have long forgotten but Sennett helps us understand."—Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, and author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life
About the Author
Richard Sennett is professor of sociology at New York University and at The London School of Economics. Before becoming a sociologist, he studied music professionally. He has received many awards and honors, most recently the 2006 Hegel Prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences.
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Top international reviews
She must not have read all the book carefully. Little inaccuracies and failures of logic, rather than undermine his whole proposition, leave the reader with unease about exactly what he is getting right and wrong. Neither Sennett nor his editor saw fit to get the name of The Great Exhibition 1851 right, calling it the Great Exposition. He claims Count Dunin's 'Man of Steel', an ingenious but static robot that could change size through a complex system of sliding plates, was for nothing more than show: "The ethos of the overpowered automobile was embodied in this Victorian robot: big, but for no purpose." A glance at the facsimile exhibition catalogue confirms that the automaton was in fact devised as a multifarious tailor's dummy, adjustable in all dimensions so that military outfitters, for instance, would not have to measure every man jack of Her Majesty's Armed Forces for their uniforms.
Such inaccuracies or minor lazinesses undermine confidence. When Sennett starts ennumerating what John Ruskin was trying to do with The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice, one feels one has to check a more reliable source for confirmation of the analysis - a book, for instance, like McCarthy's superb life of William Morris, painstakingly researched and written with grace, a charmingly rhythmic style and a deeply held compassion for her subject and passion for her topic.
I'm getting something out of him - he is good, for example, on the physical and neurological processes that underpin the activity of 'the intelligent hand' - and doing a book like mine one cannot possibly overlook him. But like many other writer and critics on craft and craftsmanship, Sennett is not himself a craftsman. He was indeed a musician - a cellist - and there is no doubt that many of the cognitive and technical skills employed in musicianship are the same or similar to those of craft. But it's not quite enough. If you're looking for a really penetrating, beautifully written and enjoyable, stimulating and challenging exploration of the true nature of the combined intellectual and manual processes at work in craft and craftmanship, you can do no better than 'The Case for Working with Your Hands' by Matthew Crawford - a political philosopher every bit as erudite as Sennett, but also a motorcycle mechanic and restorer. His account of what you need to think - and do - to make a 1963 VW Beetle go faster is joy itself.
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