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Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong Paperback – 14 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (14 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591846897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591846895
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 895,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The world is full of people telling you how to live your life. Sometimes the advice-givers fall ever-so-slightly short themselves. Bestselling author Zac Bissonnette has gathered more than seventy-five jaw-dropping gems, including risk-management

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Title of the book more interesting than the content, boring and not worth c.£8. Sadly I was very disappointed but finished book to see if it improved but unfortunately got even more irrelevant. Can I have a refund?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 39 reviews
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Fun for light entertainment, but unfair to many subjects 6 May 2014
By Aaron C. Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is certainly amusing. The writing is crisp and stylish, with a keen ironic edge and plenty of wit. The best entries are thought-provoking as well. Without ever becoming didactic, the author skillfully suggests interesting questions. Is the problem with us for celebrating fraudulent or shallow people? Or with them for hypocrisy? Or is the problem that we don't really know what good advice is, accepting easy platitudes over useful wisdom that real people can apply?

Unfortunately, the book was ruined for me by tabloid-quality reporting, a.k.a. "smears." Some of the bad people are really bad, but most are better described as "tainted" or "controversial"--in some cases just "unfortunate." Particularly in cases where a subject's problems had nothing to do with their published advice I find this irresponsible and offensive. A tabloid has the excuse of deadline pressure, and people know it's a tabloid. Accused subjects are given at least a nominal opportunity to respond. Asserting the same dubious charges in a book, and one without references, is much worse.

For one example, Victoria Osteen is a bad person because a flight attendant accused her of assault. I think it's fair to say that the case against Ms. Osteen disintegrated in court, and the jury awarded no damages. The foreman called the case "a waste of time." The event did result in a $3,000 FAA fine, but this was based on the attendant's allegations, not an investigation. I have no idea if Victoria Osteen is a good or bad person (or somewhere in between like the rest of us), or whether she or the flight attendant told the truth. You might suspect that she would have contested the FAA case if she were completely innocent, or you might put more weight on the unanimous jury finding. Anyway, Mr. Bissonnette has certainly not done the research to support his insinuations.

The case against Anita Bryant is even weaker: she got divorced and went bankrupt. Ann Landers and Abigal Van Buren make the book because the sisters were on cold terms for much of their lives. These "crimes" put them in with murderers and child molesters. A different example is Michael Savage, an extremist political commentator whose views many people (including me) find offensive. But he's the farthest thing from a hypocrite; he trumpets his beliefs loud and clear. He might belong in a book titled, "Bad Advice from People I Don't Like," but not this one. The fact that the UK refused to let him in the country due to his political speech make him a good example of Voltaire's, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write," rather than a bad person.

Jose Canseco is another hard-to-defend choice. He certainly has had unsavory episodes in his life, but he makes this book for telling young baseball players not to use steroids, then later admitting that he made extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs. The problem with that is Canseco is the guy who broke open steroid abuse and other problems in baseball, and has been pretty thoroughly vindicated in everything he wrote. There are plenty of major league baseball players who were far less truthful, and who hurled wild abuse at anyone who told the truth, or even who just believed the truth. With respect to steroids in baseball, Canseco isn't the bad people, he outed the bad people.

Canseco is also an example of a more general problem. Several of the people profiled wrote their good advice after making mistakes, not before or during. That's not hypocrisy; it's giving others the benefit of your sadder-but-wiser knowledge. A guy who's never taken a drink might have good advice for alcoholics, but he might just not understand their problems. A recovered alcoholic can speak with much more authority. Laura Schlessinger, for example, is criticized because when she was 23 in 1970 she let a lover take nude pictures of her. That hardly disqualifies her from opposing pornography today. It's easy enough to dislike her for what she says, there's no need to abuse her over something legal and innocent that happened long ago. If anything that adds to her credibility today.

As you may have inferred from some of the examples above, the smears are not random. Personal finance writers are pilloried for financial fraud or bankruptcy. Motivational speakers make the book for screwing up their lives. CEOs have two requirements for inclusion: they must have bragged excessively about their talents and produced terrible results for their companies. General public figures need to have written obvious sensible advice and then done the exact opposite to a wildly excessive degree.

A different standard applies to women. They can be tarred with unsubstantiated allegations, or with normal life events like divorce, financial problems or strained relationships with family or erstwhile friends; all unrelated to advice they may have written. Men usually have to commit crimes proven beyond a reasonable doubt in court, or else hurt a lot of people. Women just have to fall from Victorian perfection. To be fair, the author does discuss this double standard briefly, but being aware of it doesn't excuse it. There are plenty of bad women who could have been chosen instead.

Another clear rule is that Christians with conservative and exclusionary social views are fair game if they have any problem. This doesn't seem to be anti-Christian or liberal/inclusionary bias. Rather the author seems to believe that conservative Christians claim to be without sin, so that any moral or legal transgression makes them "bad people." No religion other than Christianity is mentioned in the book, and only one liberal/inclusionary political figure (Jesse Jackson, Jr.). If a man supports gay marriage, he would have to blow up a gay wedding to get in the book; but a woman against gay marriage could win admission by having a tax dispute, gambling or getting hooked on prescription pain killers. I am an enthusiastic lifelong supporter of the right of everyone to find love anywhere and have the government treat that love equally, but I don't think someone's opinion on that subject changes the moral standards by which they should be judged.

A minor criticism is sloppy editing. Several profiles are clearly misplaced and there is a problem with homonyms like "hocked" instead of "hawked" for "offered for sale."

It's hard to rate this book. People looking for some light amusement who aren't particular about the hurt the book might cause semi-innocent people will find it a three or four star book. I found it offensive, which is one star. I'll compromise on two stars for no better reason than it's in between the extremes.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderful "Walk of Shame" for some of the biggest scandals in the last 15 years. 2 May 2014
By Magda Dream - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Zac Bissonnette rounds up Swindlers, Liars and general B.S. Peddlers into an enjoyable eyeopening read.

I was aware of some of them. I have always enjoyed when religious hypocrites show who they really are. When marriage counselors can't stay married to the same spouse, (repeatedly) isn't that a flag?

THANK YOU Zac for including G.W. and Rumsfeld.

There is a quote from each person and then Bissonnette proves how they lived the opposite. Some are really funny. Some are pathetic and some are infuriating.

When I was young, there was a saying "Do As I Say - Not as I Do". I think THAT is the Mantra of the "Bad People" Bissonnette writes about.
Everyone should read this book and learn its lessons!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A great reminder for us all 2 May 2014
By Shafer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is much more than the typical advice or self-help book you would find anywhere else. As with a good novel, the author is able to let the characters (in this case real people), tell the story themselves. By reading this book, the reader is able to get an insight into a deeper understanding of the human condition. Good advice is good adive regardless of the source; and people who can give wise advice can be the most flawed and awful among us, and most of these people are pretty terrible.

Reading Good Advice From Bad People is something eeveryone should read. I just bought three more copies so that I could make sure my friends and family are able to read this for themselves. It's too good not to.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly fun to read 2 May 2014
By Karen Tiede - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Some of the time, cute little "nugget" books can be irritating; not enough meat, trivial, superficial. Even when I flipped through the pages of Good Advice from Bad People, I caught myself thinking, "reading enough of this to review it is going to be a drag." It simply looked like a lot of stop-and-start chugging through.

Could. Not. Put. It. Down.


Even more, sometimes when you read "nugget" books straight through, they get draining because they are meant to be consumed like single-serving yogurt, not single-serving-big-bag-from-Sam's-Club size.

Not so here.

I simply kept turning pages, eager to see what train wreck was coming next. And Bissonnette supplied one after another after another.

It's not surprising to me that much of the "good advice" is somewhat trivial; in reality, most advice is trivial (the really good stuff is simply hard), and these are, after all, bad people. Lots of people received advice about being ethical and trustworthy from Bernie Maddoff...

From a longer point of view, the book also has a take-away effect. I didn't know that the Men are From Mars guy was a walking relationship disaster, for example. Confirmation and affirmation that if I have any suspicions at all about advice books, I will do well to listen to my instincts.

Honestly? Put this book in a waiting room and it will get stolen. It's simply too engaging to leave around where it can be slipped into a pocket.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fun-to-Read Mini-Bios Are Perfect for Waiting-Room Reading 1 May 2014
By Lynne E. - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book's title is priceless. The advice is a little disappointing--just your usual motivational platitudes, none of the quotes particularly memorable. But each quote is accompanied by a mini-bio of the person quoted that gives the context, and also exposes the person's shallow, narrow-minded, or downright duplicitous nature.

The Lance Armstrong quote doesn't disappoint, but quoting it here would give away too much. (Isn't the subtitle the reason you're reading these reviews?) A fairly typical quote is this one from someone else: "Southern charm is real. It works . . . . I want people to feel good about bein' with me, and bein' nice to them makes it happen." --Paula Deen

The quotes are grouped in chapters: Money Secrets (e.g., the People Who Wrote These Books Have No Money); Integrity!; the Complete Idiot's Guide to Leadership; Time Well Spent and a Life Well Lived; Relationships Until Death (or Domestic Violence or Crystal Meth and Gay Hookers Do Us Part); and Keep the Faith (Out of Wedlock), Baby. The persons quoted include Bernie Madoff, Tiger Woods, Rush Limbaugh, Richard Nixon, Oscar Pistorius, and many others.

GOOD ADVICE FROM BAD PEOPLE is a great book for bedtime, bathroom, or waiting-room reading--the mini-bios are quick and fun to read. I rate this book at 4 stars ("I like it" on the official Amazon scale).
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