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Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  840 ratings  ·  72 reviews
The Sunday Times bestseller Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse, which we published back in 2014, must have really made people think. Because everything's got worse.

We've gone from UKIP to Brexit, from horse lasagne to fatbergs, from big society to food banks. The only possible way to cheer up in 2019 is to dive into David Mitchell's terrifically clever and witty
paperback, 272 pages
Published November 22nd 2019 by Guardian Books (first published November 1st 2019)
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Mandy White
David Mitchell is a very funny man - he is also very clever. My family are all English and I married an Englishman so we watch a lot of UK TV. You have probably seen David Mitchell on QI, Would I Lie to You, Mitchell and Webb and plenty of other UK programs.

When reading this book I was reading it as I imagined he would be saying it all - hard not to. I really enjoyed this look at life through David's eyes - a series of columns from a British paper. He talks about everything from Trump to
Tommye Turner
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
In the review section for this book on Goodreads, I saw that a few people put the book down after reading the introduction. I can sort of see why. It wasn't the happy, comical interpretation of modern society that many of us would be expecting from David Mitchell. The tone of the introduction does not fit well with the rest of the book. This is, of course, because the book is a collection of Mitchell's columns from The Guardian, not a traditional work of creative nonfiction. This is not a ...more
A collection of Mitchell's newspaper columns covering 2014-2019. A mix of wit, humour, sarcasm and despair. Rather entertaining.
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always for a collection of various works - some were a miss, but the ones that hit had me laughing uproariously in public spaces.
Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
Well, what a timely read. The world really is upside down and completely bonkers at the moment. Britain, well Ill try and leave Brexit chat in 2019, where I wish I could also leave Trump and his outlandish knee-jerk reactions. However, here we are in 2020 and rather than thinking, we can shake off the bad stuff and the evil do-ers who lurk behind cameras (Weinstein), in front of them (Spacey, Louis CK, Lauer), and warmongers (well, we all know those characters). Im sat at home, on my laptop, ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What David Mitchell's does well, amusing whinging.
Hannah Read
Really enjoyed this - felt it worked particularly well as an audiobook as David Mitchell himself reads it, which adds to the comedy value. Perfect for anyone that is a fan of his comedy and work, and despite containing articles from as early as 2014 it is still humorously relevant.
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019
A collection of David Mitchells columns from The Observer, which summarise in a often funny and always perceptive way the rage and Weltschmerz Ive felt over the last 4 years. Brilliant, amusing and, in many places, depressing. ...more
Alex James
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How I acquired this book?
I chuckled at David Mitchells jokes when he was on a chat show on TV, and I received the book as a Christmas gift, perplexed at first that Id been bought a book written by a comedian. Miserable hermit that I am, I dont think Id ever read such, but I was looking forward to giving it a try.

What is this book?
I supposed I expected a humorous take on the book, but I didnt actually know what its contents would cover. Dishonesty is the Second Best Policy (DSBP) is not a memoir
Abi McManigan
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is actor and writer David Mitchell's second compilation of columns he wrote for The Observer newspaper and I don't know if it's because these columns are more recent but I found this book even better than the first.

The columns are organised into categories and I loved hearing David's view on each and every one. He is so articulate and he presents a well thought out, well constructed side to his arguments that's very difficult to argue with. He just always seems so rational that you will
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an American who loves David Mitchell (he of WILTY, Peep Show, etc) I will read anything he writes and watch any program he is on. The difficulty in being an American fan living in America is that for some ridiculous reason he is not well known here, so getting my hands on his work takes a subscription to Britbox, Amazon, and hitting up friends traveling to the UK. Another difficulty, and this is particularly a problem of his last two books, is that they are very focused on British current ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very enjoyable collection of David Mitchell's newspaper columns from the last few years. To sum up: the essays are the thoughts of a reasonable man leaving in unreasonable times.

Well worth a read.
Colin Murtagh
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second set of columns collected from the Observer. Given its David Mitchell, and that they have come from the observer, it should be fairly obvious which side of the liberal metropolitan elite he comes from.
His topics, as you may expect, cover Brexit, Cameron, May, Boris et al, alongside such more diverse topics as popular culture, the Olympics and the internet. Its all done in his slightly grumpy curmudgeonly voice, distinct enough that you hear the columns as if hes speaking them.
Dec 22, 2019 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I zoned out after the second essay. Or was it the third. Might have been the first one actually...
Claartje van Swaaij
Witty read, comforting voice. I hope he keeps doing these because there is comfort in him getting worked up about things. The audiobook had a bonus chapter, too, I like when Audible does that.
Michael Rumney
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This was in the biography section of my local library so I thought it was about his life. It turned out to be a collection of essays and his observations of life in Britain today. I find David Mitchell very funny, but his humour didn't come across in his writing to the same extent.
There were genuine funny moments, but too many of the topics descended in tedious whining rants, with a sprinkling of anti Brexit. At least I knew where he stood on the subject.
Megan Hemmings
Maybe Id like this book more if I was British or middle class, but as Im neither, I found it very annoying and whiny. Im a big fan of David Mitchell usually so I was surprised that this book didnt do it for me. ...more
Adam Winfield
If David Mitchell hadnt provided the flesh and bones for one of the greatest characters in TV comedy history, Im not sure Id be so forgiving of his writing. As it is, my enjoyment of his three books to date Back Story, Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse and the latest, Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy has been greatly enhanced by the fact that I involuntarily read them in the voice of Peep Shows Mark Corrigan (which also happens, obviously, to be the actual voice of David Mitchell).

I am
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opinion columns for The Observer, ranging across the usual set of current affairs and personal observations, but most closely circling British politics of the last four years.

Mitchell is obviously used to working with words, and his pieces are excellent writing of the sort that often goes under-appreciated -- too much of a sprint next to the memoirist's personal novel, and without any overarching argument to make into a nonfiction book of any other sort. They really are well-crafted, though,
Jack Mckeever
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book of David Mitchell's I've read, and one that largely qualifies his continued 'national treasure' status. For the most part, it's every bit as funny, pedantic and sardonically thoughtful as you'd hope. Akin to other comics like Frankie Boyle, Mitchell writes about politics with a level of insight and nuance that goes way beyond the depth of many of our current MPs.

In his own classically self-deprecating way, Mitchell writes in his introduction that the reader should 'dip in and
(NOTE: This is a review of the audiobook edition)

I really wanted to love this book. I belong to the majority of people who find David Mitchell smart and funny. So I was disappointed to find myself thinking that he is neither knowledgeable enough to be erudite nor amusing enough to be hilarious. What I got from this book instead was some mild entertainment and only a handful of really well constructed profound quotes.

I think the problem was that Mitchell's targets were too obvious (the elite,
Benjamin Stahl
I love David Mitchell usually, and I enjoyed Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse. This book lacked severely in what I had hoped for however. I mean, there were some funny moments, and it's not like a fan can dictate what a comedian chooses to cover in writing - (not to mention this book was just a compilation of his Guardian columns - but this book is mostly just Mitchell ranting and complaining about Brexit, Donald Trump and whole range of other prescribed topics lefties can't come to grips ...more
Lewis Virgo
Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy: And Other Rules to Live By by David Micthell is a good book for the most part. From his takes on our current crop of politicians and other gripes like train companies, social media, the internet plus the shape of plates. It is fun and entertaining for 78% of the book but it goes down hill very quickly when it comes to Chapter 8, the one on Brexit and the following last chapter is in the same category. I disagree with with his views on most of the issues ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cynical, pedantic, and pessimistic. An excellent book.

"By now, you should have descended into misanthropic apathy"

I'm skeptical about books that are built around previously written online / newspaper articles from the author, but it really works here. The first part has a great through-line of David's take on various unusual dishonest aspects of society, from polite lies to medicine advertising to what cosmetics are considered lies and what aren't.

The second half has great breakdowns of various
Charlotte Jones
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was really excited to listen to this on audiobook because it's about politics and is written and read by David Mitchell. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it at all. The narration was really well done so an easy listen but the topics covered were very specific. If you are outside the UK or have limited knowledge of UK politics, this will be a difficult listen/read as it is a compilation of Mitchell's articles from the past five or six years, covering topical issues.

The later articles and essays
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some hilarious moments - I got the giggles until I cried a couple of times. I listened to the Audible version, read by the author himself. Mitchell is very clever fellow, he has witty line after witty line, his delivery on Audible is fast-paced so at times it takes a beat to catch up and realise how many levels the last line really had. He has a great voice, full of animation, if you've seen his TV work you'll understand what I mean. Some of the content, since it's a mostly a collection of his ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The main problem I had with this book is that it's impossible to read without hearing David Mitchell's nasally voice narrating it the entire time. While I find his sharp wit quite amusing on the occasional show of "8 out of 10 cats", or "Would I lie to you?", I could only tolerate it in short bursts in the written form. I was also slightly miffed that there didn't appear to be any original content but rather reprints of newspaper and magazine columns (the fact that most of it was new to me is ...more
Clive Gerrard
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written anthology of Mitchell's Newspaper articles/essays on various topics. The issue with this is, is that when these were topical I'm sure David's acerbic wit was really funny. But given some of these articles are nearly a decade old, they [understandably] lose their impact on the reader. He is an erudite and articulate writer, which gives his arguments and opinions a certain gravitas, if even as he admits it comes from a 'metropolitan elite' perspective. Never the less, there are one ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Officially my first ever audio book and this was brilliant, helped mainly as it is narrated by David himself and being a fan of the peep show thought it added great humour and context to his discussion. Not read one of his books before so cant comment on other reviews about duplication but this is an enjoyable read/listen about general thoughts regarding goings on in the UK over the past few years. ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the audiobook quite hilarious; it extracted a wide variety of loud laughs from my body. This is very quotable and some of it will definitely stick with me.

While reading I kept waiting for him to throw out something that sounded genuinely out of touch. After all, I'm a queer millennial and he's a middle-aged white guy. But I could find no fault with the combination of admitting not knowing what's best and having some genuine suggestions.

This was very funny.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

David Mitchell is a British actor, comedian and writer. He is one half of the comedic duo Mitchell and Webb, alongside Robert Webb, whom he met at Cambridge University. There they were both part of the Cambridge Footlights, of which Mitchell became President. Together the

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