Teaching Good from Evil
By Jamais Jochim
Two Sparrows Productions, $12.00, 225 pages
When first picking up The Evil Mastermind Management Handbook it doesn’t look like much. A Technicolor cover, some simple design, and an odd font. On the back it reads “In This Tome, you will find what it takes to be an Evil Mastermind!” with topics including, “Why Men Don’t Ask for Directions” and, “Diplomacy and Other Nasty Strategies.” Everything about this book lends itself to being comedic. When the first page has been turned though, it is anything but a joke.
Author Jamais Jochim has created a tongue-in-cheek self-help guide for business, management, and personal growth. The premise of the book is straightforward, helping evil masterminds navigate the tumultuous waters of being evil. The book opens with examples of past evil masterminds, people like the Devil, Darth Vader, Napoleon, and Morgan Le Fey. Each of the samples outlines how they were evil, and more importantly, what made them memorable. This distinction is one Jochim points out many times throughout this book, just because one is an evil mastermind, does not mean one has to always be evil.
“First and foremost: This book is not a book on how to become an Evil Mastermind. It is a book on how to be one.”
The rest of the book goes on to talk about how best to acquire a henchman, why evil masterminds love their job, and advice to budding evil masterminds. Throughout all of these sections, the wisdom in Jochim’s words comes out. When discussing the evil genius of Joseph Stalin, Jochim draws an interesting parallel between the millions who feared him, and the thousands who loved him, illustrating it is important to be feared yes, but also important to be admired. True strength comes in the balance of those two paradoxes. Jochim also extols the virtues of prizing intelligence, maintaining willpower, and keeping one’s life planned and organized. Although by all accounts this book is intended to be farcical, it contains a great amount of wisdom on how to better one’s self.
There are some pitfalls to this text. It would have benefited from time with a copy editor. Often words are missing from sentences, or the wrong word is used. This alters the flow of the prose, and causes a disruption in the readers mind. The author utilizes run-on sentences, with sentences occasionally growing to the size of entire paragraphs. There is also a reliance on the author’s part to spell things out after making good points. He can spend an entire page crafting an argument, bringing the reader along for the ride, then he restates everything in a kitschy way, usually beginning with, “It may sound weird, but…”.
In an industry overflowing with self-help and management advice restating the same tired ideas, perhaps it is time for a different approach to management books. Even if one doesn’t want to be just like Doctor Victor von Doom, one can still learn the importance of taking care of employees that have proven to be loyal. Whether interested in learning how to be an evil mastermind, a better manager, or something in between, The Evil Mastermind Management Handbook is a book worth reading.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser