Second That Emotion by Jeremy D. Holden (book review).

I should point out from the start that this book, despite its title, ‘Second That Emotion’, has less to do with the content than its sub-title ‘How Decisions, Trends & Movements Are Shaped’. However, its author, Jeremy D. Holden, points out in the introduction, there was a need to have a catchy title, although whether his target audience will get that is debatable.

Holden explains that the purpose of this book has business application, from which there are a multitude of examples given here from the US and UK, but a lot of it is about the public perception of people and businesses and how such definitions are stored in the public conscience. From this, he points out how businesses rise and fall in public perception simply by either doing something against their image or letting some aspect of their business slide.


When I started reading this book and Holden’s confession that he loves films, they inevitably came up as part of his examples that I couldn’t help wonder about him by his own definition. More so in that his interest in films based on real people doesn’t appear to take into account that these also play with the viewer perception and don’t necessarily give an accurate portrayal which he doesn’t appear to take into account. Saying that, considering the notes at the back of the book for reference comes directly off the Net, I ended up wondering if he ever reads books himself. At least in respect to writing books.

I do wonder how flexible these definitions are to minor modifications as much as major ones when it comes to politicians. He points out that President Ronald Reagan was successful for hitting the right buttons with the American population but doesn’t consider that there were people behind the scenes orchestrating that success. Odd that, considering that this is Holden’s normal profession.

The examination of WikiLeaks is interesting but I do wonder with this subject that the focus has shifted so much to its proprietor, Julian Assange, rather the message the USA would rather be quiet about regarding the embarrassing knowledge of them covering up friendly fire and civilian casualties that Holden does also point out. In this case, attacking the messenger, even if all Assange did was put the information on-line, has somewhat defected the original intent in my opinion.

The obvious thing that comes from this book is for any movement to be successful, it needs someone with a strong voice that can be heard that others will follow but that’s pretty obvious. Looking at some of his examples in this light, I’m not entirely sure. I mean, off the top of your head, do you know who created Amazon and Google? Then again, I’m not the kind of person to be easily swayed by one individual telling me what I can like or dislike neither. Corporations might have figureheads but they are, by and large, replaceable providing the product they are selling is supported.

Looking for any substantial errors in this book, I didn’t find any significant, although my knowledge of sport wouldn’t be on my list to confirm. Certain aspects, at least in population perception, does get overlooked occasionally as with the example of BP, where its quietly ignored that a lot of its investment comes from the USA itself than our side of the pond. I did ponder on the ramifications of an American fast food chain called ‘Jack In The Box’ using bombs in advertising to wipe out previous committee boards when they make mistakes as setting the wrong image in the public eye.

Looking at the current situation in the UK where several big businesses are using legitimate means to evade paying their corporate tax, one can certainly see one particular coffee selling company in dire need of reading this book.

Although Holden’s target audience is businesses, for those who aren’t, this book makes an interesting insight to how they can manipulate public perception. From that cynical point of view, it should be of interest to any of you, both as a means for self-promotion or to counter being manipulated.

GF Willmetts

December 2012


(pub: Prometheus Books. 287 page indexed hardback. Price: $25.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61614-664-1)

check out websites: www.prometheusbooks.com



Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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