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The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,704 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
Universally acclaimed when first published in 1955, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit captured the mood of a generation. Its title — like Catch-22 and Fahrenheit 451 — has become a part of America’s cultural vocabulary. Tom Rath doesn’t want anything extraordinary out of life: just a decent home, enough money to support his family, and a career that won’t crush his spirit.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published 1957 by The Reprint Society LTD. (first published 1954)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Book Circle Reads 158

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Here is the story of Tom and Betsy Rath, a young couple with everthing going for them: three healthy children, a nice home, a steady income. They have every reason to be happy, but for some reason they are not. Like so many young men of the day, Tom finds himself caught up in the corporate rat race - what he encounters there propels him on a voyage of self-discovery that will turn his world inside out.

At once a searing indictment of cor
Mar 16, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Sara by: Bill Hiatt
LOVED this. I'm a sucker for anything 1950s, and this was a great look at the depressing conformity of that era.

My dad recommended this book to me after I raved about the AMC show "Mad Men." It's pretty clear that the show's writers took the plot almost directly from this book. Both deal with the same dynamic: War-hero husbands quietly dealing with the mental fall-out of WW2, housewives stifled by a life of cleaning and baking, and what happens when no one is allowed to talk about how they're r
May 15, 2007 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They drank a lot of cocktails in the 1950's.
Rich Sanidad
As I worked my way through The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, I tried to remember how and why it came to be recommended to me. This was especially true in the beginning of the book, as it took a while for the plot to get moving—relatively speaking. No one will ever mistake this book for a page-turner. More than once I thought to myself, “Why am I reading this?” It’s a legitimate question for any book, but especially for a book that you only read for fifteen minutes at a go and yet still find your ...more
Ambientada en la década de los cincuenta, cuando no se hablaba de las frustraciones sino que se ahogaban en martinis, “El hombre del traje gris” de Sloan Wilson se centra en Tom Rath, un hombre que lleva una vida idéntica a la de miles de hombres de aquella época. Tom Rath vive en Connecticut pero cada mañana coge el tren para ir a trabajar a Nueva York. Tom tiene una mujer preciosa que le espera en casa y tres adorables hijos pequeños, pero esto no parece suficiente; en la pared del comedor hay ...more
Redshirt Knitting
Aug 27, 2012 Redshirt Knitting rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book was recommended to me as being "something every Mad Men fan should read." It has similar themes, but was ineptly written.

About 2/3rds of the book's bulk is comprised of characters either A) talking to each other, or B) thinking out loud. You start to appreciate the old writing class cliche about "show me, don't tell me."

If you want some 50s angst, check out Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar." It touches many of the same issues, and is about a million times better than this book in every re
Rafeeq O.
Jul 28, 2014 Rafeeq O. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I watch The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit with Gregory Peck, I say, "Boy, it'd be nice to read the original novel by Sloan Wilson sometime, wouldn't it?"...and when I at last came across an old 1956 printing in the local library basement sale, this old paperback shouldered its way immediately to the top of my reading list. I was not disappointed. It is an enjoyable and moving five-star work.

The basics of the novel--a combat veteran haunted by memories of the men he killed, and by the bri
Dec 21, 2015 Tessa rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2015 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed his writing style. Some people compare main character to Don Draper but I find Tom Rath to be a much more likeable person.
Nov 11, 2014 Nick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book has put me in such a horrible reading slump. It took me way too long to read this book because I simply did not want to. But I had to for a class.

This book is incredibly boring. Nothing really happens. That might be my fault, because I was expecting a mafia or spy story for some reason. I'm not sure why. So the actual story itself was incredibly boring, as I was waiting for something to happen for quite some time.

The writing was almost too simple. It was incredibly bland.

There was far
Jul 25, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like four stars is a bit generous, and if I could I'd probably be awarding this novel three-and-a-half stars. This book tells the story of a man who very quickly after being married is off fighting in World War II, and then after surviving that finds himself with three kids and a wife who knows nothing of the emotional trauma her husband suffered during the war. He's fighting a different struggle for survival now, trying to be successful in the corporate world and get by in a household wh ...more
Such a frustrating read, loads of potential that gets bogged down in just too much going on, too many characters with too many off shooting narratives for such a short book. The ending felt rushed and far too pat, given the final thirty pages. There are monumental shifts in circumstances and startling admissions that take place, which make the ending problematic and seems more like what a philandering male's ideal attitude of his wife should be--even for the 1950's it is just not realistic.
SIMON Karine
Jan 26, 2015 SIMON Karine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Je dois avouer que si on ne m’avait pas proposé ce bouquin en partenariat, je ne l’aurais probablement pas lu. Je ne me serais pas spontanément penchée vers un roman écrit dans les années 50, je dois avouer que je ne suis pas vintage du tout. En lisant, la quatrième de couverture, je me suis dis oui, pourquoi pas, mais j’étais plutôt septique. Et pourtant !!!

J’ai trouvé ce bouquin résolument moderne ! Vraiment ! Et surtout, je l’ai trouvé très intéressant et bien écrit. Il se lit tout seul, on n
Joe Rodeck
Oct 25, 2015 Joe Rodeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The most significant fact about me is that I've become a cheap cynic." (Job interview answer.)

This is a step forward for the American novel in which the real villain is stress. Despite all the cynicism, there is still humanity to be found. Most surprising is to see even a CEO rich man portrayed sympathetically, he's a strung out workaholic.

Sample: "They ought to begin wars with a course in basic training and end them with a course in basic forgetting. The trick is to learn to believe that it'
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I didn't care for this one. It addresses middle-class dissatisfactions similar to those explored in Revolutionary Road, but Sloan Wilson's treatment is dry and pedestrian. Perhaps it just takes a tortured soul like Dick Yates to approach these issues in a dramatically memorable way. Skip this one and go for the depth. Read Yates instead.
Andy Oram
Dec 19, 2014 Andy Oram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I liked the balance in this book between domestic, work, and social issues, and the well-rendered interiors of the characters. The plot felt less realistic than I had expected, and I was a bit disappointed in it. One thing that surprised me was that the protagonist's work was quite different from the stereotype I had come to believe from hearing about this novel for so many years before I read it. I thought the book was about someone chafing at being a cog in a large corporate machine, but in fa ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Dustin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really debated on whether to give this one 3 stars or 4 and I decided on 4 because I enjoyed the story and characters a great deal, and I still found myself thinking about the story after I finished the book. The real problem with this book is the writing quality. It's full of passive sentences and the author loves to say had had. For instance he might say something like, "I took the children to the park after they had had their dinner." (I made that up, it's not taken from the book) He does t ...more
Narrated by Dan Lazar. **Some spoilers** WW2 vet Tom and wife Betsy have three children and live in an OK house. The lack of money is never far from their minds and Tom decides to interview for a NYC job with a broadcast network. He gets the job which pays more money but it requires a lot of his time and is somewhat dull. His grandmother dies and leaves him her property but her long-time assistant Edward is contesting the will. Tom and Betsy, if they prevail, hope to subdivide the lot for a hous ...more
Jake Silver
For most of the book, you'll read it thinking it's a satire about the American Dream, lampooning those who will never be content, striving to work longer hours in a cubicle to climb the corporate ladder so they can install that swimming pool in their back yard.

*spoiler* (maybe)
But by the end of the book, you realize that there was no satire. In the end, everyone ends up wealthy and happy by doing the very things that it seemed so obvious that the book was trying to expose as frivolous.

And when y
Wes Townsend
This was a fun, quick read. I liked its darkly sarcastic humor that reminded me a bit of the style of Catch 22. Anyone who has struggled with a job they are not happy with in order to make ends meet can relate to this novel in some way. In the introduction, Jonathan Franzen says the first half is better than the second half, and he's right, but I did enjoy the book all the way through. The book's biggest problem is that the ending is ridiculous and completely unsatisfying. But for me that was no ...more
Apr 14, 2014 Ffiamma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
rassicurante romanzo degli anni 50 sulla quotidianità di un uomo *medio* e della sua famiglia (moglie casalinga e tre figli). la vita scorre nella routine per tom rath, tra il lavoro, le preoccupazioni economiche, i piccoli bisogni- e quando arriva una svolta, la possibilità di un nuovo impiego più redditizio- tutto sembra incrinarsi e i ricordi legati alla guerra si fanno ingombranti e gettano altre nubi sul presente. sarà la dolce betsy, moglie di tom, ad aiutarlo a uscire dall'impasse, insiem ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this story of a couple navigating the war years, then adjustment to each other as they make their American Dream come true...almost. Life is complicated and there's no guaranteed formula for success, as they learn. Morality is tested by war, consequences of desperate acts challenge principles. The characters are well-drawn, and the reader gets a glimpse of corporate America during the post-war boom; a time of great opportunity, often at the price of individuality. Money and status ...more
Michael Miller
Jun 24, 2014 Michael Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though much has changed since 1955, and in many ways this classic is outdated (gone are the days of the uniformed elevator man, the interoffice communication box, the $800k school bond referendum, and [mercifully] the typewriter), its message is as relevant as ever. Why do we work? How do we balance work and family obligations? How can we reconcile in one life all various relations, duties, and desires that are so easily compartmentalized? Though Tom and Betsy discover their answers and make the ...more
Apr 07, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, fiction
Quick easy fiction. 1950s piece about morality of advancement and struggles of the salaryman. A happy ending, for once!
Oct 03, 2014 Jon rated it liked it
I thought it was more interesting as a historical artifact than an actual novel. The plotting and characters felt dull and artificial, but it was still a real interesting look at the values and attitudes of the time.

The American Dream circa 1950: Just work hard and be honest and things will work out, because rich men are usually good men, the wheels of justice move efficiently and purely, and your wife will forgive anything (especially when she doesn't have any options).

Also be white, but that'
Keith Raffel
Sep 30, 2013 Keith Raffel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic and deservedly so.
Mar 16, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"È necessario dimenticare tutto ciò e tutte le conseguenze che ha avuto" pensò Tom "è necessario dimenticarlo come un tempo fu necessario impararlo. Dovrebbero cominciare le guerre con corsi di addestramento, e terminarle con corsi sul modo di dimenticare. Il trucco consiste nell'imparare a credere che il nostro è un modo sconnesso, un mondo lunatico, dove ciò che è vero in questo momento non era vero in passato; dove il comandamento 'Non ammazzare' e il fatto che uno abbia ucciso un gran numero
I picked this book because it's Jamie Dornan's one of favorite books. And I can see why he loves this book. It's so relatable whether what age you are, what gender and what class you are in the society.

Through Tom Rath you'll see how to handle priorities, how to make decisions, how to mingle with people that you need to please and you have to have comradeship and most importantly Tom Rath taught us how to be honest all the time to the people you mingled with and to tell what you really feel abo
Oct 01, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had through my life occasionally heard the phrase "the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" used as an unflattering term for the unreflective salaryman. Then Mad Men came out, and I re-read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and I thought that it was just about time to read this one. So I did.

I was surprised to discover that the book is not a long screed about the meaninglessness of life as a gray-suited salaryman. It is instead about a man who faces familiar problems. Tom, the protagonist, has to figur
Pierre Corneille
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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“The definition of a beautiful woman is one who loves me.” 9 likes
“Believe me, I want you to have a good time,' he said gently, 'but people who have that primarily in mind rarely accomplish it.” 3 likes
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