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True Books



Turn it off: how to unplug from the anytime-anywhere office without disconnecting your career, by Gil Gordon (Three Rivers Press: $12).

Synopsis: Free time has vanished because of pagers, faxes, E-mail, and answering machines. Technology binds us unrelentingly to the endless demands of our Mr. Dithers-like bosses.

Representative Quote: "If you're like most people, it has been far too long since you've enjoyed the sheer pleasure of being unhooked, unwired, and unavailable."

Noteworthy Flaw: Fails to note that most employees keep in constant contact with their offices not out of necessity but in order to satisfy their sad need to feel important.

Slack: getting past burnout, busywork, and the myth of total efficiency, by Tom DeMarco (Broadway Books: $23).

Synopsis: Free time has vanished because of relentless corporate axers hot to downsize anybody who does not appear constantly busy. This can cause productivity problems in the long run.

Representative Quote: "The companies who today find themselves stuck in stasis are that way because they fired the very people who were capable of helping them get through necessary change."

Noteworthy Flaw: Seems to think that corporate restructuring is a recent invention: "We grew up in an age where stasis was a possibility and a desired state."

The overworked american: the unexpected decline of leisure, by Juliet B. Schor (BasicBooks: $21).

Synopsis: Free time has vanished steadily since the end of World War II as workers have come to value the possession of luxury objects over the more amorphous joys of idleness.

Representative Quote: "If Mrs. Jones works long hours, she will be able to buy the second home, the designer dresses, or the fancier car. If her neighbor Mrs. Smith opts for more free time instead, her two-car garage and walk-in closet will be half empty."

Noteworthy Flaw: By publishing her book ten years before the other two mentioned in this column, the author missed out on the opportunity to factor in the technologies and relentless corporate axers that the other authors are convinced created the trend she's writing about.

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