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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, and possibly life-changing
This is an excellent book. Well researched, brilliantly argued, and, it rings horribly, savagely true. It's a kind of 'Fast Food Nation' for the overwork culture that the silent majority (in the UK) have been conned into, and come to expect as 'the norm'.
If you've ever wondered whether it was really meant to be this way, this book will at once reassure you that...
Published on 20 July 2004 by Carl Phillips

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read
The book is definitely worth a read - primarily for me because the different perspectives/ experiences of people cited allow one to build a wider picture of what is actually going on.

The book provokes both thought and outrage in equal measure. By far its greatest strength for me was that it gives the lie to the CBI mantra that we need to enslave workers to...
Published on 6 Aug 2006 by Negotiator


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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, and possibly life-changing, 20 July 2004
This is an excellent book. Well researched, brilliantly argued, and, it rings horribly, savagely true. It's a kind of 'Fast Food Nation' for the overwork culture that the silent majority (in the UK) have been conned into, and come to expect as 'the norm'.
If you've ever wondered whether it was really meant to be this way, this book will at once reassure you that it's not, and kick-start you into making the required changes to get your life back.
It is not a 'self-help' / 'personal growth' book - there are enough of those. And, as the author brilliantly asserts, this focus on personal responsibility for achieving 'work / life balance' etc. is all part of the problem - cultural change, she argues, requires collective action (time to join the union!)
If you find yourself habitually slumped on the sofa on a Sunday night, after a weekend's recovery from a knackering week at work; if you've watched in silent despair as the hobbies you used to love are sacrificed; if you find yourself unable to sleep because your mind is buzzing with an overflowing 'to do' list, order this book without delay. You won't regret it.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's It All For?, 1 Jun 2005
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
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This book is valuable because it offers a rare challenge to what (in England) seems to have become the accepted "norm" since the 1980's Thatcher years, i.e. that people should get up at maybe 6 a.m., get to the office as much as an hour EARLY, work through the "lunch hour" (or eat, repulsively, at the desk) and stay way beyond (maybe hours beyond) "going home time", only to face a crap 1-3 hour commute back to some little overpriced box to sleep in. What a rotten society this has become! And as the book says, in effect citing the Le Carre character, "I've paid all right--I don't know what the hell I've bought with it!" Indeed, what is "bought" with those (largely unpaid) extra hours of work and, increasingly, travel to and from work? Cheap weekends in Prague or Paris? A shiny little car to try to show off in (on roads which are crammed with other shiny little cars, so that driving is less and less of a pleasure anyway)? But many, especially the 20-40's who grew up in the 80's and 90's are indoctrinated like robot minds with the idea this life is not only normal but a good life! What a farce!

The book offers a range of anecdotes, official reports etc, showing that England is largely alone among the developed states in promoting --mostly unpaid-- extra hours of work, to combat very poor productivity and management. Yes. The only society which comes close is the USA, but from this reviewer's experience, employers in the US take their pounds of flesh another way, i.e. by giving very short holidays. On a daily basis, most Americans do not seem to do these pointlessly long hours (most of the office tower lights in Manhattan are off by 7 pm at latest, mostly by 6 pm).

It is a disgrace, as the book says, that the Blair government in the UK is still demanding the right for "the UK" (i.e. employers in the UK, often American-owned transnationals) to "allow" employees to opt-out of the 48 hours Euro maximum. What century is this? Why are white Northern European countries trying to compete with China and India? Europe should put forward its own societal model, if necessary by imposition.

The result, again well shown in the book: a collapsing society composed of stressed employees (especially the managers and professionals), fearful of losing their jobs, who pay for government waste (Millenium Dome, fake "human rights" activities, Olympic bids, foreign wars) and a vast underclass of "chavscum" etc who live parasitically off the crumbs from the table via social security. Marital breakdown, children cynical and criminalized by their teens are all part of the same story, along with the end of any leisured social life (cf. binge drinking on Friday and Saturday nights, unbelievably vulgar hen parties, mass drunkenness etc to wipe out for a few hours the futility of their existences).

A recommended book. True enough to make one into an anarchist or revolutionary. Maybe that might be a good thing. This situation in the UK cannot continue.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read, 6 Aug 2006
By 
Negotiator (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives (Paperback)
The book is definitely worth a read - primarily for me because the different perspectives/ experiences of people cited allow one to build a wider picture of what is actually going on.

The book provokes both thought and outrage in equal measure. By far its greatest strength for me was that it gives the lie to the CBI mantra that we need to enslave workers to remain 'competitive'.

WHAT WOULD'VE MADE IT BETTER - I think Ms Bunting doesn't go far enough. Possibly there is a need to introduce the subject in the 'personalising' way she has in order to make it relatable to readers. However, I would've liked to see a wider and more powerful critique of the fundamental underpinnings of our current society (wealth; acquisition; capital; sterotypical masculinity) that drives the many to be subtly subjugated for the few. I'm not sure the 48hr working week opt-out is the biggest enemy.

I would take issue with the previous reviewer who denigrates the UK public sector worker as cossetted (etc etc usual tired sterotypes). He has obvious zero experience of that which he speaks of. A cursory search of any major news site (BBC; Ananova etc ) will demonstrate both the lower comparative salaries and the major job cuts that the public sector have had to endure recently. The introduction of the so-called 'superior' private sector culture has only led to major pay increases for senior Whitehall mandarins, not Joe and Jill average.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you know anyone who whinges about overwork give 'em this!, 19 July 2004
By 
James Richards (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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In general the book is excellent. It is easy to read, well structured, and well referenced.
The best part of the book is that it describes what appears to happening on an all-too-often basis.
However, it does not fully explain why employees behave like they do.
In other words, what it does is look at the symptoms of our so-called modern work ethic and not so much focusing on what forces are shaping the self.
We need to know more about how powerful groups influence behaviour, sustain their influence over time, and absolve themselves of the aftermath from overwork.
This I feel cannot be explained through reference to secondary resources or personal accounts.
In short, this book is provocative to the point where I would expect the book to be mentioned for some time yet as we ponder over effects of work on our non-work lives. But, the momentum needs to be continued or taken up by someone who can better explain the forces that shape behaviour in the workplace and outside the workplace.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful read, 3 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives (Paperback)
Reading this book is amazing! Nothing has changed since the dark days of the labour administration. If anything, it's worse. Would love to see someone write an up to date version of this book.
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, 3 Aug 2004
By 
Clive Pacey (london) - See all my reviews
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I largely agree with the previous reviewer, but would also say that there was (as perhaps expected from a Guardian journalist) an over-emphasis on the public sector and womens issues.
Also, the book tended to concentrate heavily on the childcare issue, whilst barely mentioning caring issues such as elderly relatives and disabled or ill partners. Should be remembered that the latter is not chosen whereas childbirth generally is...
The suggestions she makes made me laugh too. 18 months full paid leave for a father. A friend of mine had 4 children in six years. Under those proposals he would have been etntitled to six years full paid leave...
The most interesting segements are the recounted real experiences. Overall the book is worth a read, but i would have prefered a sociological explantion rather than a somewhat political tract
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13 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's not good, but UK workers still take it easy!, 10 Jun 2005
The basic thesis of this book is sound - since Thatcher there is no longer any such a thing as a stable job or long-term employment (except if you are one of the vast army of civil servants, who are sheltered from market forces) - as a consequence private sector workers are forced into a very unequal bargaining position with employers, especially as the back of the unions has been broken. Result: UK workers have to work harder and longer just to survive and have no protection against market forces or unscrupulous employers. BUT...
I returned to the UK in 2003 after 25 years in Japan and it was laughable to me to see how the British were congratulating themselves on their long working hours. I couldn't believe what I was hearing because in Guildford, the town I was living in, the rush hour began at 4pm and the streets and shops and offices were empty by 6pm. Moreover, workers always seem to be taking holidays and sickies, and even when they ARE at work UK workers spend half the time nattering and dealing with private matters on company time.
Sorry guys, but compared with the Japanese workers here still take it easy - (my Japanese wife says that she'd love to be employed in the UK retail industry because it's so easy compared with Japan, where workers do long hours, take very little holiday and don't moan about their job (at least to customers!). They also have some protection against market forces and unscrupulous employers.
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Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives
Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives by Madeleine Bunting (Paperback - 6 Jun 2005)
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