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Your'e Too Kind: A Brief History of Flatteryby Richard Stengel
Synopses & Reviews
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. Most often, though, flattery these days is just a harmless deception, a victimless crime that often ends up making both the giver and the receiver feel a little better. In short, flattery works.
From the primates to the ancient world all the way to Hollywood, "You're Too Kind" presents a primer on flattery--where it originated, its development through the ages, and its myriad uses in contemporary culture.
About the Author
Richard Stengel is the editor of Time.com, and has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Republic, and GQ. He is the author of January Sun and collaborated with Nelson Mandela on Long Walk to Freedom. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
Table of Contents
A Word or Two on the Etymology of Flattery
Chapter 1 Everyone Has a Hierarchy
Chapter 2 You Can Take It with You
Chapter 3 Flatter Me or Else
Chapter 4 Flattery Is Undemocratic
Chapter 5 The Invention of Romantic Flattery
Chapter 6 The Courtier's Guide to How to Flatter
Chapter 7 American Transparency
Chapter 8 How Flattery Won Friends and Influenced People
Chapter 9 The Science of Ingratiation
Chapter 10 The Capitals of Modern Flattery
Epilogue: How to Flatter Without Getting Caught
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