Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Classic Rediscovered

I recently read Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. The book has often been described simply as a critique of corporate conformity, but that's far from apt. While it is in ways a period piece, its themes of balancing corporate ambition and family responsibilities should resonate with any of us corporate tools.

Our hero, Tom Rath, has even more than that to contend with: As the book opens, poor Tom strives to answer the following inane question on a job application: "The most significant fact about me is . . ."

It's a shock, then, when he considers the following response:

"It was the unreal sounding, probably irrelevant but quite accurate fact that he had killed seventeen men."

So Tom's got to climb the corporate ladder, find time for family and come to terms with his wartime experiences. Five years ago that would have seemed difficult to relate to; not so much now as our Iraq veterans return to the workplace

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