M a r t i n    K i h n

   Head can't believe it's not butter.




The following is a Reader's Guide to House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time (Warner Books, March 2005). It was prepared to inform discussion groups and encourage a civilized debate about this incendiary work.

Q.   There is a character in "House of Lies" named Marty - and the book's author is named Martin. Are these the same people? Does it matter?

Q.   The book is written primarily in the second-person (i.e., "you"). Why do you think the author chose to employ this literary device? Was it to comment upon the nature of self and the construct of identity in a world of rampant commerce - or simply to be "different" and "cool"?

Q.   Antimatter is the most potent form of energy, if only it could be harnessed. Is this observation relevant to "House of Lies"?

Q.   Have you ever employed a top-tier management consultant, or worked for a firm that did? What was your experience? Did you feel delighted and amused - or overcharged, violated and betrayed?

Q.   The best-selling book of all time is The Bible. In what ways does "House of Lies" remind you of that seminal work? If your answer is "none" - why? Is it your habit to read a book only for its surface meanings, rather than delving into the spiritual richness that often lies below a flippant bunch of jokes about Midwestern management yahoos?

Q.   Some readers have commented that the author appears to have a grudge against both the Harvard Business School and McKinsey & Co. - do you agree? Would you say this feeling is justified, given the outrageous and emasculating way the author was treated by both these self-important institutions, who even now are sitting on their fat butts smoking huge cigars and laughing about how smart they are?

Q.   Other readers have noticed that the character of "Marty" (or "you") is not entirely unsympathetic. Do you feel this is a person you would like to have sex with? When?

Q.   Why do you think the fees management consultants charge are so high? Is it because management consultants themselves are so often high?

Q.   The book's "quest" involves solving numerous intriguing puzzles and secret codes. Did you enjoy solving them? Did you find yourself solving them before the author himself did? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

Q.   Has this book changed your ideas about faith, religion, spirituality, diet, exercise, hope, dreams, pet- or home-ownership, neo-classical ballet, timepieces, the Ford Taurus, or anything at all in any way whatsoever? No?

Q.   Define "genius." In how many different ways does "House of Lies" serve as perhaps the best example of this concept?

Q.   Finally: Would you rather live in a world without love - or a world without management consultants?