Friday, January 12, 2007

The Cheating Culture, by David Callahan

This book was about 11 hours and 50 minutes long, and it is a rather damning indictment of everyone who has a lot of elasticity in his or her integrity.

Unfortunately, what begins as a very compelling account of the moral malfeasance of everyone from accountants to Little Leaguers begins to degenerate into a politically motivated hit piece that blames most of our current trend toward dishonesty on Republicans. To be sure, that party's stone needed to be unturned. But when the final verdict is one that is sure to leave partisan Democrats feeling smug and vindicated, it loses some of its own aura of integrity. And that is too bad, because the criticisms are largely valid, and the warnings need to be heeded.

Callahan's central premise seems to be that there are two sides to America: tough America and fair America, and that the toughies have made our society so competitive that it has goaded us into cheating. Whether it's a family perpetrating a fraud to allow their 14 year-old son to compete against 11 and 12 year-olds in Little League, or bookkeepers who embezzle the money they think they deserve, people rip off the system because they are feeling ripped off.

Overall, I give this 3 stars for being a must read on the subject of integrity, because it is hard not to find yourself in it. But I lower it to 2 stars if you don't balance it with something like Steven Covey's Seven Habits series.

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