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Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life [Hardcover]

By Michael Novak (Author)
Our Price $ 22.06  
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Item Number 153187  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   246
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.6" Width: 5.1" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 11, 1996
Publisher   Free Press
ISBN  0684827484  
EAN  9780684827483  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Why do we work so hard at our jobs, day after day? Why is a job well done important to us? We know there is more to a career than money and prestige, but what exactly do we mean by "fulfillment"? These are old but important questions. They belong with some newly discovered ones: Why are people in business more religious than the population as a whole? What do people of business know, and what do they do, that anchors their faith? In this ground-breaking and inspiring book, Michael Novak ties together these crucial questions by explaining the meaning of work as a vocation. Work should be more than just a job -- it should be a calling.

This book explains an important part of our lives in a new way, and readers will instantly recognize themselves in its pages. A larger proportion than ever before of the world's Christians, Jews, and other peoples of faith are spending their working lives in business. Business is a profession worthy of a person's highest ideals and aspirations, fraught with moral possibilities both of great good and of great evil. Novak takes on agonizing problems, such as downsizing, the tradeoffs that must sometimes be faced between profits and human rights, and the pitfalls of philanthropy. He also examines the daily questions of how an honest day's work contributes to the good of many people, both close at hand and far away. Our work connects us with one another. It also makes possible the universal advance out of poverty, and it is an essential prerequisite of democracy and the institutions of civil society.

This book is a spiritual feast, for everyone who wants to examine how to make a life through making a living.

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More About Michael Novak

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Michael Novak is a cofounder and former publisher of Crisis magazine, and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Forbes. He has written more than 25 books, including The Fire of Invention: Civil Society and the Future of the Corporation (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997). Novak lives in Washington DC. Brian C. Anderson is a research associate in social and political studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997).

Michael Novak currently resides in Washington, in the state of District Of Columbia. Michael Novak was born in 1968.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Bad defense of free-market  Aug 21, 2006
I'm writing this review to balance the far-too-positive ones above. I was forced to read this book for a college course. The book is simply not well-written nor is it a convincing defence of the free-market system.

An example of the incompetent writing: "A fourth truth about callings is also apparent: They are not usually easy to discover" (p35) You are not supposed to contradict your own sentence. This is an example of confusing, bad writing.

In much of the book, the author just repeats self-serving corporate public relations boilerplate, up to the point of unwitting self-parody. On page 22 he praises another saint of capitalism: "Kenneth Lay, chairman of. . . Enron. "I grew up the son of a Baptist minister. From this background I was fully exposed to not only legal behavior but moral and ethical. . . the most satisfying thing[] in life is to create a highly moral and ethical environment. . . ."

The worst thing is that the book contains nothing new. There is not a single new idea proposed that I saw. Novak simply rehashes trite, clichéd material. At one embarrassing point, he compares modern American business CEO's to the Greek soldiers at Thermopylae, holding off the barbarian hordes. As if CEO's, with probably not a day of physical labor in their lives, trying to manipulate their stock price, were the equivalent of men fighting to the death to save their civilization. But at least we know that the author is 'well read' (as if Thermopylae weren't in every Western Civ course already)

The main argument consists of Novak putting the word "ethical" in the same sentence as "business", as if this somehow proved anything. He also wastes much space reciting the well-known example of Andrew Carnegie; as if anyone doesn't know it already. We get it--one wealthy person gave his money away (while the other 99% kept it in trust funds for their own future offspring).

Novak then attempts to drop every clichéd literary allusion possible. He quotes Ben Franklin; de Tocqueville; and the Bible--as if the Bible couldn't be used to justify ANY point on economics, capitalistic or communistic. He also is wrong, consistently. He states that capitalism is only 200 years old (pg 84); of course, it is far older than that--for example, the anciet Romans had corporations (collegia); double-entry bookeeping dates at least from the middle ages. Capitalism the *word* itself may date from about 200 years, but the idea behind it is far older. Novak confuses the beginning of a word's usage, and the concept behind it.

He claims only leaders in democracies are forced to take responsibility for their decisions (p89), saying unelected rulers like Pinochet ruined their economies. But in fact, Pinochet helped overthrow Chile's democratically elected president, Allende, an actual socialist-communist who would have violently opposed Novak's entire theory on capitalism & religion!

He gratuitously throws in an allusion to Robinson Crusoe, calling him 'mythical' (pg 65), and pointing out that nobody is self-sufficient. Of course, Robinson Crusoe was a fictional *character*, but was closely based on a real person, Alexander Selkirk, that did live self-sufficiently on a deserted Island for many years, creating his own miniature society. (Hey author, try reading 'The Solitude of Alexander Selkrik', you must have missed that one in English Lit 101.). In any case, 'myth' has a specific literary meaning and Novak misuses it to try and scope a cheap shot. A novel about solitude has nothing to do with being 'mythical'. Novak cannot write.

The only reason this book is bought so much is that colleges assign it to business students, and American Roman Catholics like Novak's rewriting of the Gospel. For a true defense of free-market economics, try Ayn Rand's work, Murray Rothbard, F. Von Hayek, or Ludwig von Mises.
Student of Life  Nov 2, 2002
The view going in is very different than the view coming out. Novak's idealism helped to encourage me in my own. I read this book as an undergraduate business student struggling to find the balance that I saw in between greed and good. I so enjoyed his language, examples, and message that I recommended it to my Business Ethics professor. Last I heard, he was planning on using it as one of the textbooks. I gave it a 4 star rating because although it was a good read, it could always be better. Let's leave some room for improvement.
stimulating book yet many issues to be discussed further  Jul 12, 2000
After finishing this book, i got the impression that the author has touched something about the philosophical grounding on capitalism, however, the book is not deep enough in analysing these grounds. 1 the moral basw which the author inspected is of the christian ( or rather ) catholic culture, the reasons of the christian culture is the most suitable one to suit with the capitalism are not yet fully explained 2 its hidden presumption on pratising ideal capitalism is having a good government, good smaall societies to support the neighbours or citizens, good law system etc, but if i live in a place full of corruption, business law system not well developed, what should i do? he does not suggest any means 3 the model which he inspected is the usa, he also studied catholic, i would rather say, it is like, when someone got a hammer, all things can be solved by using it 4 i cannot agree more than that, doing business must have moral and courage if you have interest in discussing with me in this book or others, pls email me
This book was reccomended by a friend and I was fascinated by the title. The book is a quick read with many references to socio-economic theory and the Catholic way. The book was written by Mr. Novak, a distinguished author who grasps both the economic and theological apsects of modern day business activities. He does a good job of portraying work as a means to help the common good of all society.The idea that being productive as a person in business can benefit others in unseen ways is worthy. Even business can work in its' self interest while helping advance society. Business as a calling tied together many aspects of faith, work and finding meaning in a career. This book should be on the must read list of every young MBA or CEO.
Business is a morally serious calling and Novak proves it.  Jan 16, 1997
Novak uses antidotial evidence to show how business can be and often is a virtous enterprise. However his feelings about free market capitalism and the business community are somewhat navie and idealistic. Antidotes are used to support the fact (often forgetten by social critics) that business leaders contribute a great deal to society. I believe this is a good book to read if you are taking a college course in Economic philosophy or business administration.

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