3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Work is a four letter work according to my long retired father. He is lucky to have left the world of work when he did, before the advent of 24 / 7 emails and messaging, constant stress and the relentless pace that we have today. Work can be a positive thing but it feels at the moment that there is no relief from it. The view from the treadmill of the people burning themselves out, seeing those that are choosing not to do anything is not always the best encouragement.

From his position as a psychoanalyst, Cohen looks at the four faces of inertia – the burnout, the slob, the daydreamer and the slacker. Using these generic themes he looks at four people, Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, Emily Dickinson and David Foster Wallace, who have shown strong signs of these types of inactivity. From these specific profiles, he poses the questions on how we might live a different and more contented life in the modern world.


There were several parts of this that I liked, in particular, the mini-biographies of the four people he uses to expand on the points he was making. However, I did find that he asked a lot of questions, but it felt like the answers were a little lacking as to how we set about unwinding our own personal addictions to the workplace. It would have been good to have methods to mitigate the effects that overwork has on our health and society. It did make for an interesting read though.

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