Summary and book reviews of The Good, The Bad and The Difference by Randy Cohen

The Good, The Bad and The Difference

How to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Life

by Randy Cohen

The Good, The Bad and The Difference by Randy Cohen X
The Good, The Bad and The Difference by Randy Cohen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2002, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2003, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The man behind the New York Times Magazine's immensely popular column "The Ethicist"--syndicated in newspapers across the USA and Canada as "Everyday Ethics"-- presents a provocative, thematic collection of advice on how to be good in the real world.

The man behind the New York Times Magazine's immensely popular column "The Ethicist"--syndicated in newspapers across the United States and Canada as "Everyday Ethics"--casts an eye on today's manners and mores with a provocative, thematic collection of advice on how to be good in the real world.

Every week in his column on ethics, Randy Cohen takes on conundrums presented in letters from perplexed people who want to do the right thing (or hope to get away with doing the wrong thing), and responds with a skillful blend of moral authority and humor. Cohen's wisdom and witticisms have now been collected in The Good, the Bad & the Difference, a collection of his columns as wise and funny as a combination of "Dear Abby," Plato, and Mel Brooks. The columns are supplemented with second thoughts on (and sometimes complete reversals of) his original replies, follow-up notes on how his advice affected the actions of various letter writers, reactions from readers both pro and con, and observations from such "guest ethicists" as David Eggers and the author's mom. Each chapter also features an "Ethics Pop Quiz".

The Good, the Bad & the Difference is divided into seven sections:

  • Civic Life (what we do in public)
  • Family Life (what we do at home)
  • Social Life (what we do in other people's homes)
  • Commercial Life (what we do in situations where money is a factor)
  • Medical Life (the rights and obligations of patients and caregivers)
  • Work Life (ethics for the professional sphere)
  • School Life (moral questions from and about kids)

Each section provides a window into how we live today, shedding light on the ways in which a more ethical approach to the decisions we make, and to our daily behavior, can make a big difference in how we feel about ourselves tomorrow.

Commercial Life

Whoever commits a fraud is guilty not only of the particular injury to him who he deceives, but of the diminution of that confidence which constitutes not only the ease but the existence of society.
- Johnson, Rambler #79 (December 18, 1750)

That this is one of the book's longest chapters is unsurprising: It takes up the ethics of commercial transactions, our culture's most common sort of human interaction. One way or another, these questions involve money. In particular, they deal with shopping and with the essential conflict between buyer and seller. The former wants to pay the lowest price, the latter wants to receive the highest; the temptations of deceit are powerful. That is why the used-car dealer has long been depicted as a reviled and tormented soul. If the car had been invented one hundred years earlier, Verdi would no doubt have written an opera about a used-car dealer. (And he would have taken very different sorts of vacations, perhaps driving along ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

An enjoyable and thought provoking book - one to dip into rather than to read cover to cover.  

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Not unlike Miss Manners, Cohen tries to focus on problems that everyday people actually face....It's the perfect gift for anyone who doesn't read a lot, but feels strongly about how things ought to be done.

Reader Reviews

Randy Cohen

Yeah! ethics~ it's all good!!

David

pain in experiences and not very helpful in the real world

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Good, The Bad and The Difference, try these:

  • The Antidote jacket

    The Antidote

    by Oliver Burkeman

    Published 2013

    About this book

    A witty, fascinating, and counterintuitive read that turns decades of self-help advice on its head and forces us to rethink completely our attitudes toward failure, uncertainty, and death.

  • Justice jacket

    Justice

    by Michael J. Sandel

    Published 2010

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Michael J. Sandel's "Justice" course is one of the most popular and influential at Harvard. Up to a thousand students pack the campus theater to hear Sandel relate the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of the day. Justice offers readers the same exhilarating journey that captivates Harvard students.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.