(Reviewed by JD Jung)
Like many Americans, I’ve been disenchanted with U.S. politics and all three branches of government. This reminds me of a book I read and reviewed in 2010. Unfortunately, nothing has changed.
We’re constantly bombarded by people who are trying to manipulate or deceive us. They can be public figures, such as politicians or religious leaders. They can work behind a name, like business people and advertisers. They can also be family, friends, lovers, bosses, and co-workers. In other words, they come in all different forms. How can we detect these “two legged snakes” and, more importantly, protect ourselves from their influence or bite? Dr. Edward Slack, a psychologist who specializes in working with gifted and manipulative people, tells us exactly how in his book, Two Legged Snakes: Understanding and Handling Manipulative People.
Why the term “snakes”? A notorious snake manipulated Eve into taking a bite of that infamous apple. Falling victim to these snakes is nothing new. Dr. Slack shows readers through examples, cartoons, and a lot of humor how one becomes a “Bipedal Snake” (BS), and he explores the types of BSs—such as charmers, backstabbers, and bilkers—and their styles of deception. Let’s not forget the types of BS fans (apple biters)—the True Believer vs. the WannaBe. Unfortunately, these apple biters are the ones who give the snakes their power.
How do we handle these snakes? It’s not always easy. What happens if a BS is a family member that you can’t avoid? How do you handle a formerly good person who has gone over to the snaky side? How can you tell a true expert from a total BSer? Dr. Slack addresses each of these conditions and more. He also acknowledges the role of our own emotional baggage—as many of us try to “cure an old snake bite by fixing a new snake.” He also advises us how to build healthy friendships. And let’s not forget that we must figure out what we really want versus what others try to pound in our heads.
Since the instructional portion of this book is barely over 100 pages in length, Two Legged Snakes is quick and informative. And, as you can tell, it’s also a fun and enjoyable read. At the end of the book, Dr. Slack even includes multiple copies of the “Two Legged Snake Spotters Checklist” for you to complete when you think you’ve spotted a Bipedal Snake. Don’t worry; if someone sees you filling it out, you won’t look paranoid. They’ll have no idea that you’re assessing or spying on them unless they’ve read the book. It looks like a comical worksheet, but it also reinforces the concepts that you’ve learned throughout the book.
I recommend Two Legged Snakes for those who have been bitten and are fed up with being manipulated or deceived. Now, isn’t that all of us?