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Extended Audio Sample Assholes: A Theory Audiobook, by Aaron James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (224 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Aaron James Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2012 ISBN: 9780449807118
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In the spirit of the mega-selling On Bullshit, philosopher Aaron James presents a theory of the asshole that is both intellectually provocative and existentially necessary.

What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often personally stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name. Try as we might to avoid them, assholes are found everywhere—at work, at home, on the road, and in the public sphere. Encountering one causes great difficulty and personal strain, especially because we often cannot understand why exactly someone should be acting like that.

Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Much as Machiavelli illuminated political strategy for princes, this book finally gives us the concepts to think or say why assholes disturb us so, and explains why such people seem part of the human social condition, especially in an age of raging narcissism and unbridled capitalism. These concepts are also practically useful, as understanding the asshole we are stuck with helps us think constructively about how to handle problems he (and they are mostly all men) presents. We get a better sense of when the asshole is best resisted, and when he is best ignored—a better sense of what is, and what is not, worth fighting for.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “James neatly does what philosophers must do: he defines his terms, organizes and codifies, declares his own loyalties; he locates himself on the spectrum of assholery and suggest origins both psychological and sociological. The result is a delightful combination of the demotic and the technical.”


  • “James’ volume is equal parts philosophical meditation and historical survey, but its true value lies in his attempt to precisely define the term.”

    New York Magazine

  • “James’ research is both thorough and imaginative; his impressive source list ranges from obscure philosophy books to popular websites to Rudyard Kipling to Kanye West, hip-hop’s greatest asshole. The author’s enthusiasm for the subject makes it possible to get through the book quickly…There are moments of great insight and outright hilarity.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacqueline | 2/3/2014

    " Boring. I appreciate the time and detail Aaron James has taken to devote to, even major in, assholes. He should receive a D.A. (Doctorate of Asshole-ology) just for the effort. For my part, life is too short. Out with the assholes, in with the good folks. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Esteban del Mal | 1/27/2014

    " Ha-ha, Karen. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Matt | 1/13/2014

    " YUCK! I couldn't make it past the first chapter. Don't waste your time, not funny. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fred Forbes | 12/10/2013

    " I had expected an informative and lively discussion but got instead a "scientific", dry tome, laden with footnotes on nearly every page. This is a small, short book whose subject matter could have been handled as a magazine article. Repetitive and overdone and more than I wanted to know. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy Morton | 12/3/2013

    " I have to admit that this was way deeper than i had hoped. Be prepared to think! By the way, it isn't about your bum hole. It is about people who are assholes. I would hate for anyone to be disappointed! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Valerie | 11/16/2013

    " Interesting, but the shifting focus from public assholes to social/societal assholes to personal assholes in such a short book meant that none received sufficient coverage and the whole thing felt a bit uneven. Interesting thesis, though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ella Sf | 8/5/2013

    " Well written and accessible, with a compelling definition of what constitutes an asshole. Points for naming a few names in the book, but sadly, very little in the way of how to deal with them. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Barbara | 2/27/2013

    " This book had the potential for laugh-out loud funny. Instead it was dry and boring. I had to abandon it, couldn't finish it. The 'philosophical' seriousness doesn't match the subject. Let's face it, Asshole's aren't a serious subject. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angela | 2/8/2013

    " I thought the way this book was written was extremely humorous. It's one of those books where you're like, "That's so true". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Isabelle | 11/11/2012

    " Well written and executed book. A cross between "comedy" and practicality. Learned that I, too, am an occasional asshole. Who knew ;) "

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About the Author

Aaron James holds a PhD from Harvard and is associate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He was awarded the Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, spending the 2009–10 academic year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards, and his work has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and placed him as a finalist for the Audie Award. He has acted in a number of productions, both Off-Broadway in New York and Off-Loop in Chicago. He graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. His plays and songs have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Milan, where he has also performed.