Oh Behave!

Conduct Principles coverComplete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century

Submitter: I feel this one speaks for itself. We may have identified the worst book ever. You’re welcome. We are a public library serving a population of 70,000 nowhere near the author/publisher in Massachusetts. I can only assume there was a suggestion for purchase which nobody here noticed came from…Massachusetts. On Amazon, this book has 21 5-star reviews. The reviewers can be divided into two groups: most of them have reviewed nothing else, while a small number of them have reviewed many self-published books and given every one 5 stars. Among the people quoted praising the book on Amazon is pro-apartheid former South African President F.W. de Klerk. Nothing says good manners like tear-gassing people who want equality. Of course, after de-accessioning it we kept it in the workroom to help pass the time on night shifts. Every page continues to delight. For example, just now I opened it at random and discovered Chapter 115 is called “Be Careful: Don’t Make a Sexual Harassment.”

Holly: From the back cover: “Some of its innovative contents may help solve the problems the Western culture can not.”  That’s fantastic. The author has a Ph.D. from MIT – also promising! But the text in the examples that Submitter included is so simple and basic – it doesn’t seem very innovative at all! “Have good manners like a real gentleman/lady” is good advice, but you need waaaaay more detail on good manners to actually fix culture. I’m not sold. I’m all for books on etiquette, but this is not the one for public libraries.


Conduct Principles back cover





  1. “don’t be too bigoted” seems like pretty sound advice. I like the idea that dirty jokes are only for “spouses and the like” – whoever the latter may be?

  2. For a while there was an email marketing technique — librarians (I was among them) got messages purporting to be from patrons saying, “I recommend this book. Please buy it.” On several occasions I’d look up the patron in the database, not find him/her, and write back saying I’d buy books for our own patrons, but not for random other people. Then there was the marketing technique of getting (by postal mail) a page supposedly torn from a catalog with a post-it saying, “Buy this for our library.” . . . Evidently someone at this particular public library fell for a similar scheme. This book makes no sense.

    1. I still get those e-mails on an almost weekly basis. They are so obvious and I have quit responding to them.! I much rather prefer an author to be upfront and say “I wrote this book and I think your patrons will like it because….”

  3. A couple of the pictures won’t load for me. 🙁
    Good to know that individual independence has become a thing, I was tired of all that group independence.
    In the book’s favor, based on the tense used, he at least seemed to know when the 21st century started.

  4. Umm… the author really has a PhD from an ‘American’ university? MIT? From what I can see here, (A couple of the photos aren’t showing up.) I would have said English wasn’t their first language, or that they were using Google Translate or similar.
    Last two paragraphs of chapter 12 are a perfect example, as is Chapter 64.

    1. “John Newton holds a Ph.D. from MIT, and does researches at Harvard.” Well, we know the PhD wasn’t in English!

    2. That’s exactly what I thought. I used to teach English in Japan, and it reads exactly like something one of my students would have written. There’s no way the author has a PhD from a university in an English-speaking nation. At least, not one in any social science.

  5. Many of the Amazon reviews, and the description on the Amazon page itself, remind me of the slightly oddly phrased English documentation included in Chinese made products. Interestingly enough, there is a “Simplified Chinese Page to Page Correspondence Display Edition” which is supposedly “Useful for Learning Chinese”.

  6. “pro-apartheid former South African President F.W. de Klerk”? He won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    1. Exactly. Buy can’t imagine that he would review a book like this. Maybe a diff FE..

  7. I think I have the images fixed.Holly and I are trying to resolve this weird issue with the pics. They are there one minute and gone the next. Thanks for letting me know. We think it is mostly with Chrome since it looked okay in other browsers.

  8. I am reminded of the notorious “how to good-bye depression” book also seen here for the reason the other commenters note.

    Additionally, why is “21st” always italicized? Is this a style guide I am unfamiliar with?

  9. “People interested in conduct problems because of the recent President Bill Clinton’s Affair”, What could it be? Do not smoke cigars…

  10. “be really excellent humorist only if he/she is able to well show humor without sexual jokes, teases, etc.
    The author doesn’t know how funny is he I want this book, it is hilarious!

  11. Is there a table of contents? It’s pretty randomly org—no, randomly thrown together.

  12. This book is crazy. I agree!
    On one point the submitter made, just a correction: FW de Klerk helped absolve apartheid. What he’s doing reviewing a book like this I have no idea. Possibly a different FW..? Not so uncommon in SA.

    1. The Amazon reviews seem to have been written by non-native English speakers and possibly all by the same person. Certain dubious themes (such as instructions to read the book slowly and carefully, or observations that conduct handbooks of the past are now out of date) recur in more than one review.

      As the previous commenter noted, De Klerk actually played a key role in ending apartheid. One wonders if his blurb is out of context or outright fraudulent. (Another blurb is attributed to Hillary Clinton (!), but her quoted words never actually mention the book.)

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