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Complaint: From Minor Moans to Principled Protests (Big Ideas) [Paperback]

Julian Baggini
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 5 Jun 2008 --  

Book Description

5 Jun 2008 Big Ideas
Complaint can be a powerful political tool. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King both used it to drive social change. So why do we moan about increasingly trivial things - like the weather or public transport? Do Brits complain less than Americans? Do men and women complain about different things? What is the best way to complain? From Adam and Eve to the Iraq War, Baggini analyzes precisely what we complain about, how and why. You can't complain about that!


Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; First Paperback Edition edition (5 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846680573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846680571
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 13.1 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,244,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Baggini's books include The Ego Trick, Welcome to Everytown, What's It All About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life and The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, all published by Granta Books. He writes for several newspapers and magazines and is co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine.

Product Description

Review

...relaxed, affable yet startlingly lucid analysis of humanity's tendency to complain...Baggini's analysis of the categories of complaint is, like the book, both rigorous and entertaining ...Complaint should be compulsory reading. Politicians should be tested on it before being allowed to stand for office. (Michael Bywater The Independent)

...[a] sweetly reasoned complaint.

(Independent on Sunday)

Baggini does a wonderful job of showing the complexity of a topic that on the surface seems very simple. His clear writing style and presentation makes this a very engaging book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. (Library Journal USA 2009-08-15)

...short and lucid book devoted to an important but neglected subject...[a] stimulating book.

(Observer)

fascinating. (Financial Times)

Complaint is an enjoyably astringent and wry read.

(Guardian)

There are no complaints about this book.

(Sunday Express)

Book Description

'This book could change the way we live ... [a] relaxed, affable, yet startlingly lucid analysis of humanity's tendency to complain' - The Independent

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought provoking 10 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
How ironic would be to complain about a book entitled 'Complaint'? Let's not go there, there's no need to. As someone who loves to complain, moan and rant, I found this book both funny and reflective. I've read a few Baggini books now. I like his style. He's detailed in his presentation of arguments but not overly dry and cumbersome like so many other philosophers both past and present.

Baggini examines and discusses the various different types of complaints. Their uses, their consequences, their purposes, their benefits. He captures things we all know about but expresses them in a way that very few of us could. A sign of a good thinker. A sign of a good writer.

Although there's no outstanding Eureka moment in this book, it's a very solid framework for thought and discussion. His opinions on the habbits of men and women are interesting and his idea that complaining being a human universal that if used correctly is something which has practical benefits. This can take many shapes; the complaint can be the starting moment of a process which will produce required change or it just be a form of human catharsis. Either way, it's worth remembering complaining is an interesting characteristic which reflects who we are and how we feel about ourselves and think about what's around us.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An illuminating read 26 April 2011
Format:Paperback
Clearly written and convincingly argued, 'Complaint' is a brilliant book full of insight and knowledge (Baggini clearly knows his stuff when it comes to philosophy, and its lucky for us that he also happens to be a sharp and elegant writer). While the chapter on the study he conducted (chapter 4) is perhaps less informative then the others, it is still beautifully written and the other chapters contain more than enough content (especially the last chapter, which makes a great case for ethics over excessive legalism). I can highly recommend this book.
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13 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm not one to grumble, but ... 23 July 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The concept is fine: a Malcolm Gladwell-style pop-science look at the psychology and social history of complaint would have made for a fascinating little book.

But Julian Baggini's short entry - very short: it is done and dusted in 130 pages - is neither focussed or organised enough to pull that off. It reads more like a loosely-themed ramble through a field of the author's favourite hobby horses.

Baggini describes himself as a "philosopher" - every man's right, I suppose - but it does imply some sort of tenured academic role, whereas the most I can extract from a quick Google is that he has a PhD in philosophy and has fashioned for himself a role as a public commentator of sorts on matters ethical and metaphysical. However good his philosophical credentials, they don't qualify him especially well to write a pop-science book on complaint: you'd think a psychologist, psychiatrist or sociologist might be better equipped for that.

Nor, having read his offering, does he appear to have much of substance to say. In 130 parsimoniously entexted pages he manages to distract himself from the subject at hand on a number of occasions, wandering off piste into tangential ruminations on what appear (from his other writings) to be pet subjects - particularly religion and atheism. Elsewhere he doesn't really fashion much of an argument: there's a cursory attempt to categorise types of complaint and a half-hearted reader survey from which Baggini draws half-hearted conclusions, but he doesn't really have anything to say other than "complaint has its place, and isn't all bad".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignoring what Baggini tried to make out of his reader's survey--wonderful. 22 April 2010
By Greg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If the reader can prepare herself to ignore a section about two-thirds of the way through the book that deals extensively and somewhat inexplicable with material drawn from a survey on complaining (effectively making this 100-page essay rather than 130-page book), what remains is terrific. Top-notch thinking and expression of thought, concentrated especially on a very strong opening and remarkable close. The last real chapter, covering the relationship between (among other things) freedom and responsibility is a model of sharp, challenging ideas that I found particularly relevant when hearing on the news that some people were seeking ways of suing--someone--in the wake of the Iceland volcano's ash plume. One could wish that every citizen in a secular, liberal democracy could read those ten or so pages and set their words on his heart. Complaint is human; petty complaint is common; but right complaint is noble and empowering, and it's not too much to think that careful readers of "Complaint" might be on a path to whining less and accomplishing more.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 10 April 2013
By C. Burns - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting book. Very well thought out. I would recommend it to everyone, particularly chronic , persistent, complainers.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My complaint review 18 Sep 2009
By Joel Kravetz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this book both entertaining and imformative. It was interesting to me that more people complain about things over which they no (or little) control than over things which they have control. It was also interesting to find that even when people have control, they rarely exercise it. It seems we get more pleasure complaining than fixing the world.
3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much to complain about 23 July 2008
By Olly Buxton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The concept is fine: a Malcolm Gladwell-style pop-science look at the psychology and social history of complaint would have made for a fascinating little book.

But Julian Baggini's short entry - very short: it is done and dusted in 130 pages - is neither focussed or organised enough to pull that off. It reads more like a loosely-themed ramble through a field of the author's favourite hobby horses.

Baggini describes himself as a "philosopher" - every man's right, I suppose - but it does imply some sort of tenured academic role, whereas the most I can extract from a quick Google is that he has a PhD in philosophy and has fashioned for himself a role as a public commentator of sorts on matters ethical and metaphysical. However good his philosophical credentials, they don't qualify him especially well to write a pop-science book on complaint: you'd think a psychologist, psychiatrist or sociologist might be better equipped for that.

Nor, having read his offering, does he appear to have much of substance to say. In 130 parsimoniously entexted pages he manages to distract himself from the subject at hand on a number of occasions, wandering off piste into tangential ruminations on what appear (from his other writings) to be pet subjects - particularly religion and atheism. Elsewhere he doesn't really fashion much of an argument: there's a cursory attempt to categorise types of complaint and a half-hearted reader survey from which Baggini draws half-hearted conclusions, but he doesn't really have anything to say other than "complaint has its place, and isn't all bad".

Some respectable commentators have found value in his book, however: Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times, for whom I have a great deal of respect, raved about it (and on that recommendation I bought it), so perhaps it just caught me on a bad day.

But all the same, I can't see this one tipping The Tipping Point out of the bestseller list anytime soon.

Olly Buxton
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