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Blood, Sweat & Tears - The Evolution of Work

Blood, Sweat and Tears is the outcome of Richard Donkinís own search for purpose and meaning in his work. When he made the decision to write Blood, Sweat and Tears, he reports having to choose between taking a yearís unpaid leave - a costly option - or writing in his spare time, outside of working hours. He chose to take an unpaid leave.

"I thought of it as paying for a year of my life. It was the best move I ever made - not only did I enjoy this year more than any other, I have probably worked harder than at any time of my career," Donkin says. But the work was focused, organized, fun and never became so burdensome that it dominated his every waking moment. He read books, travelled and learned.

"Work became a joy - so much so that it no longer seemed like work. The difference was - and people who are self-employed will understand this - I was setting my own pace," he notes.

About the book:

Observing the growing number of frazzled, drained and dissatisfied workers in today's workplace, Donkin recalls the wisdom of noted psychologist Abraham Maslow: "to do some idiotic job very well is certainly not real achievement." He then asks how we have arrived at the point where The Dilbert Principle is one of the world's most popular business books. In his quest to show that cubical cynicism and alienation from one's work are comparatively recent phenomena, Donkin cuts a wide swath through economic and social history. Ranging from Stone Age butchering of livestock in Germany to Abraham Darby's 1709 development of the coking forge (which Donkin believes was the inception of the job "as a constant source of employment and income packaged by the parameter of time"), he brings an engaging spirit of curiosity and an encyclopedic bent to his study. Donkin charts the age-old conflict between the employer`s need to develop a worker as a productive resource versus the urge to control and restrict the worker's contribution, arguing that the latter tendency lies at the root of the current workplace malaise. Yet he is optimistic, viewing new business models of self-management as opportunities to acknowledge workers' value, redefine attitudes toward work and to recalibrate work and leisure in a manner that makes life worth living.

"The aim of this book is to examine, using a historical perspective, the evolution of work from the earliest times and the impact of great watersheds of development. It will look at early societies, slavery, the guilds, the creation of trade secrets, and the influence of religion on work; it will look at where we have been and where we are going. " - Richard Donkin Blood, Sweat and Tears


"There are a lot of books about work and employment. Richard Donkin has written a book that stands apart from the rest. Blood, Sweat & Tears is engaging and intelligent reading, rooted in both historical and personal understanding and insight." - Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor, Stanford Business School and author of The Human Equation: Building Profit by Putting People First

"Blood, Sweat & Tearsí review of how society has viewed work is an excellent primer on the human dynamics and great possibilities of the new economy." - Don Tapscott, chair of Itemus Inc. and coauthor of Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs

"We all work - paid employment, voluntary work, household chores -- because we make work part of our identity. To lead a satisfactory life we need to understand what work means to us, and to do this we need to understand the nature of work, what it was and how it is changing. Richard Donkin, in this lucid and compelling book, provides us with the means for such understanding." - Dorothy Rowe, consultant Psychologist, author of The Real Meaning of Money

"This book is huge. In every good sense of the word. It certainly belongs on the bookshelf of every leader and every scholar in the area of management and organizational life." - From the Foreword by Warren Bennis

"His book is a pleasantly meandering history of work from the Stone Age to the present, rich with engaging vignettes." - The New York Times

"Donkin takes readers through thousands of years of history, examining how work, and more particularly the management of work, has changed." - The Washington Post

"Richard Donkin, a journalist, has written an ambitious, wide-ranging history of the changing nature of work, and not just in America....Mr. Donkinís hope is that a new kind of company will in future blur the line between work and leisure, making labor in essence a form of fun." - The Economist

"...the book succeeds because it focuses on people and their relationships at work...Our challenge is to move down the high-trust road with relationships built on respect and dignity. Donkinís splendid book can only help" - John Monks writing in the Financial Times

"In Donkinís view, we are now at a stage where there is more work than ever, the work ethic remains deeply embedded in the Western psyche and our identities continue to be framed by who employs us and how we earn a living." - Time magazine

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