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Shop Class as Soulcraft Audiobook

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

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Audible Editor Reviews

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An inquiry into the Value of Work hit the press at a historically significant moment. The economic crisis that began in 2008 continues its seismic re-landscaping of the globe in 2009. Assumptions once thought rock-solid now lay in shards at our feet. Matthew B. Crawford, a Ph.D. in political philosophy, has written a book about the value of work that expands from his personal history into an ethical treatise and manifesto of stunning polemic breath and scope. Crawford, after earning his degree, was offered the job of director of a think tank that paid a huge salary. "i landed the job at the think tank because i had a prestigious education in the liberal arts, yet the job itself felt illiberal: coming up with the best arguments money could buy. This wasn't work befitting a free man." After five months Crawford left the think tank and became a professional motorcycle mechanic, opening the repair shop Shockoe Moto.

Max Bloomquist narrates Shop Class with tonalities and a vocal range that nicely match Crawford's mixed social registries of mechanic, non-conformist, and Ph.D. — all the while managing to sound like your regular normal guy. indeed, Bloomquist seldom veers from his baseline down-to-earth, optimistic voice, a voice you might imagine coming from a PBS television network teacher of the mechanical trades. But Bloomquist moves out from this baseline voice with an expressive clarity and resonance that color Crawford's subject. These qualities especially reveal themselves as Bloomquist nicely frames some of Crawford's denser analytical arguments.

Shop Class takes critical and incisive aim at the corporate workplace, consumerism, our educational system's unbalanced tilt towards higher education at the expense of the skilled manual trades, and our relations with our own "stuff". The central concept enveloping and linking these various themes is "agency".

"This book grows out of an attempt to understand the greater sense of agency and competence i have always felt doing manual work, compared to other jobs that were officially recognized as 'knowledge work'. Perhaps most surprisingly, i often find manual work more engaging intellectually. This book is an attempt to understand why this should be so." —David Chasey

Publisher's Summary

Shop Class as Soulcraft brings alive an experience that was once quite common but now seems to be receding from society - the experience of making and fixing things with our hands. Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world, a sense of loss, and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day. For those who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life worth choosing.

On both economic and psychological grounds, Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a "knowledge worker", based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide.

But Crawford offers good news as well: The manual trades are very different from the assembly line and from dumbed-down white collar work as well. They require careful thinking and are punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. Based on his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford makes a case for the intrinsic satisfactions and cognitive challenges of manual work. The work of builders and mechanics is secure; it cannot be outsourced, and it cannot be made obsolete. Such work ties us to the local communities in which we live and instills the pride that comes from doing work that is genuinely useful.

A wholly original debut, Shop Class as Soulcraft offers a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.

©2009 Matthew B. Crawford; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"With wit and humor, the author deftly mixes the details of his own experience as a tradesman and then proprietor of a motorcycle repair shop with more philosophical considerations." (Publishers Weekly)
"Crawford's work will appeal to fans of Robert Pirsig's classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and should be required reading for all educational leaders. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (595 )
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4.2 (374 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Shamu from New York New York 05-09-13
    Shamu from New York New York 05-09-13

    Interests in Design/Engineering, Architecture, & History

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
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    "wanted to enjoy it more, but it rang false"

    My reaction, put simply is - I can't tell if the author is trying to justify the merits of being a motorcycle mechanic to us or to himself. It's as if he started off overly in defense of his career choice, as if bitter of the lack of respect he feels people may hold for him because he is a mechanic, rather than a think tank academic. By the end, he just sounds very full of himself and rather intolerable. and the worst part? I more or less agree with what he's saying.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Holiday Maine 08-21-17
    Ron Holiday Maine 08-21-17 Member Since 2017
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    2
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    "Changed my Life"

    I graduated with a BA in philosophy im 2012. I first read this book that same year. Now I'm a BMW technician. Skim the book first then go back and engage deeply with the ideas the 2nd time around.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    josh chappell STEPHENVILLE, TX, US 05-29-17
    josh chappell STEPHENVILLE, TX, US 05-29-17 Member Since 2017
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    "This book validated my life at every page"

    Personally struggling with self worth and prestige in my career. This was therapeutic for my inner peace. it affirmed what so many tradesmen like myself feel, we have to think hard and we'll to be successful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel B. 05-07-17
    Daniel B. 05-07-17 Member Since 2014
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    9
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    "So good I listened twice in a row"

    Buy this!!! The author details so many principles about life and pride of work and workmanship in such a way that this should be a required high school class.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger R. 11-08-16
    Roger R. 11-08-16 Member Since 2015
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    7
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    "motorcycle maintenance as education"

    first if not you have not read Zin and the art of motorcycle maintenance then read that book and come. Back. I am college educate who found his career though a trade. I agree with the basic supposition that as society we have devalue manual labor and six years of education ending with goofy cap and dress and pice paper with the words PHD don't empower you with Godley powers. if find first chapters hard skip them the re al meat is after chapter 4 and it is good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Theodore John Brick, NJ 10-07-16
    Theodore John Brick, NJ 10-07-16
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    "Blah, blah, blahblah... Insert $50 word here..."
    Would you try another book from Matthew B. Crawford and/or Max Bloomquist?

    Eh.... maybe.... only if he promised not to "lecture" me with unnecessary commentary that required a dictionary, thesaurus and Google to understand.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Matthew B. Crawford? Why or why not?

    See above.


    What does Max Bloomquist bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    If I had to "read" the book, I would have put it down before the end of the first chapter.


    Who do you think would benefit most from listening to Shop Class as Soulcraft?

    Somebody who doesn't mind listening to humorous yet arrogant babble to get to the point.


    Any additional comments?

    After listening to this book, which by the way, I did enjoy parts of, I realized that this whole book could have been said in one chapter. It's about "Work Ethic". Having it, using it, controlling it, making it part of your everyday life and how to succeed with it. I got that right away and he did a great job, albeit the long way, to get that point across. What made the book very tolerable is the use of expletives from time to time. I don't care who you are, a strategically placed "F" word makes for a chuckle in any book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steev 10-06-16
    Steev 10-06-16

    reader.....

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    "Absolutely loved it"

    Such a great book. Stands up there with Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance. Should be given to all Seniors in High School to read and think about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    -Drew 07-02-16
    -Drew 07-02-16 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Amazing"

    Just about perfect; the kind of book that you end up remembering as an intuition more than a bookmark.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy 05-11-16
    Cindy 05-11-16
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    "Book is all over the place, only enjoyed first cha"

    Narrator did a great job but the book was all over the place, couldn't understand 20% of it, need a dictionary as the author uses uncommon words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeny Smith 03-28-16
    Jeny Smith 03-28-16
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    3
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    "wiser words were never spoken"

    though this book is not for everyone due to the philosophical language and heady way of Storytelling, drawing comparisons to motorcycle mechanics allows a complex story to be easily digested by anyone. this book completely describes today's corporate job rat race, where that model came from, and a potential path away from it. I loved this book and recommend it to anyone who has a hard time describing exactly what their job function is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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