My book review of 'I Can't Believe You Just Said That!' by Danny Wallace

I Can't Believe You Just Said That!

by Danny Wallace
I Can't Believe You Just Said That!
by Danny Wallace

This is a brilliantly funny, informative and highly personal investigation into the subject.

First of all I must say that I have used the title and cover of the hardback edition in referring to this book. The paperback is now available with a decidedly much ruder title, which I cannot bring myself to highlight, but I'm afraid that if you go to a bookshop, this is what you'll be given. You may feel it necessary then to read the book within a magazine, or keep it in a paper bag, but please find some means of picking it up because everyone should read this book - it's brilliant!

Danny Wallace's output is prolific. He's a children's author, tv presenter, broadcaster and screenwriter. He claims that this book arose from an unfortunate incident in a cafe where he was kept waiting far too long for a hot dog. The resulting exchange caused him such distress that he decided to commission his own survey The Wallace Report to investigate how others might react in similar circumstances, and to look at the broader issue of rudeness altogether.

In addition, he talks to psychologists, psychiatrists, taxi drivers, bin men, barristers and politicians and he tells us what he's learned. The information, conclusions and anecdotes are delivered in an entertaining and engaging manner, highlighting everyday rudeness and its consequences.

And the effects are wide-ranging. Rudeness will damage your health, creativity and performance. If you're a woman, you're more likely to swear than a man. And if you're a rude man, you're likely to be paid more than your politer, and your female, colleagues.

Rudeness is contagious - even just witnessing rudeness is enough to make you act rudely to someone else. It can increase your appetite. Hostility can lead to heart problems and a weakened immune system. It can even kill. A rude comment can have such an effect that when tested in a high pressure environment, it decreases performance by doctors, surgeons and nurses in a life and death situation by 50 per cent.

The book was published in 2017 and explores the consequences for society in having leaders who are rude, notably the then president of the United States, Donald Trump. People read his rudeness as honesty. Even his lies were seen as more honest than the smooth politicians, the Washington elite who had gone before. Civility had become associated with rich, educated, powerful people, and the 'quality of incivility became associated as something of a badge of defiance, says a former criminal lawyer and specialist in the ethics of leadership, quoted in the book. It's fascinating and enlightening.

There's so much in this book to ponder but it's also a brilliantly entertaining read. Just a horrible title for the paperback...

Review date: January 2021