Fresh Take on ‘Shop Class’

Maybe the times are right for a new Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A good candidate just might be Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford, which has risen to #77 on Amazon with the help of a recent review in Slate. No libraries we checked had copies on hand, though several had some on order.

Crawford finished his doctorate in political philosophy at the University of Chicago, took a job at a Washington think tank, then quit five months later and began repairing motorcycles. His defense of the satisfactions and security of having a skill that can’t be exported overseas, done with an algorithm, or downloaded – and his thoughtful critique of cubicle culture – was published as a much-discussed essay in the New Atlantis in 2006, before he landed a book deal with Penguin Press.  

Calling Shop Class as Soul Craft “the best self-help book that I’ve ever read,” the Slate reviewer characterizes Crawford’s advice this way: “Strive not for flimsy new economy “flexibility” but for real, handy expertise in a chosen field. The point is to achieve mastery, which in turn gives you a skill not subject to the whims of office politics. Finally, think about how your work affects others. This is a hedge against both narcissistic creativity and doing actual harm.”  That’s not a message you hear every day.

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work
Matthew B. Crawford
Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2009-05-28)
ISBN-10: 1594202230
ISBN-13: 9781594202230

Available from Brilliance Audio (May, 2009)

  • MP3 CD; $39.97; 1441800115 
  • CD; Unabridged; $82.97; 1441800093

One Response to “Fresh Take on ‘Shop Class’”

  1. bruce Says:

    Take a look at Pirsig’s works and explain to me how Mr. Crawford could not be accused of plagiarism? I have not read book (not out yet) but NYT article, cover of book and sub-title all are suspect.