Shop Class as Soulcraft

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  • New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2009
  • Vanity Fair Top Ten Book of 2009
  • Publisher's Weekly Best Books of 2009
  • San Francisco Chronicle's Best Books of 2009
  • Christian Science Monitor's Best of 2009
  • Wall Street Journal Holiday Book Recommendation
  • Financial Times Editor's Choice
  • Popular Mechanics Editor's Choice
  • Winner of the Borders Original Voices Award for Nonfiction

About the Author

Matthew B. Crawford, photo credit Robert Adamo

I am currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. I also run a (very) small business in Richmond, Virginia.

If you are looking for motorcycle repair, go to

Media inquiries may be directed to Stephanie Gilardi at The Penguin Press: Stephanie.Gilardi @ (remove the spaces from the address when you compose an email).

Photo credit: Robert Adamo

Shop Class as Soulcraft

by Matthew B. Crawford

Excerpt: “The Case for Working with Your Hands”
—The New York Times Magazine

Shop Class as Soulcraft is a beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is undervalued in contemporary America.”
—Francis Fukuyama, New York Times Book Review

“Matt Crawford’s remarkable book on the morality and metaphysics of the repairman looks into the reality of practical activity. It is a superb combination of testimony and reflection, and you can’t put it down.”
—Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University

From the book jacket:

A philosopher / mechanic destroys the pretensions of the high-prestige workplace and makes an irresistible case for working with one’s hands.

Shop Class as Soulcraft brings alive an experience that was once quite common, but now seems to be receding from society: making and fixing things. Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day. For anyone who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life worth choosing.

On both economic and psychological grounds, Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a “knowledge worker,” based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide.

But Crawford offers good news as well: the manual trades are very different from the assembly line, and from dumbed-down white collar work as well. They require careful thinking and are punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. Based on his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford makes a case for the intrinsic satisfactions and cognitive challenges of manual work. The work of builders and mechanics is secure; it cannot be outsourced, and it cannot be made obsolete. Such work ties us to the local communities in which we live, and instills the pride that comes from doing work that is genuinely useful. A wholly original debut, Shop Class as Soulcraft offers a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.

International Editions





Spanish: Coming in June 2010

Chinese (Taiwan & Hong Kong): June 2010

Chinese (mainland): October 2010