Book review: Business Secrets Of The Pharaohs by Mark Corrigan

Ever since the publication of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People in 1936, the business community has been obsessed with books whose olde-worlde wisdom could allegedly be used in real-life situations.
Everything from Machiavelli’s The Prince to Sun Tzu’s Art Of War, the Tao Te Ching and even the Bible have been examined ad nauseum in the belief that it would give today’s business leaders some vague edge over the competition.
And yet, perhaps for a few faint gems of wisdom (“all warfare is based on deception”) these books have had little practical wisdom to offer  a 21st-century full of office workers rather than, say, rival Chinese warlords.
With this in mind, Mark Corrigan’s first book, Business Secrets Of The Pharaohs, can best be described as “brave”.
The first warning that Corrigan’s tome might be problematic was the fact that the publisher – who we had never heard of, and whom none of our colleagues in the publishing industry had heard of, either – spelt Mark’s surname wrong on the cover (along with the word “Pharaohs”).
Nor was it a good sign that this review copy was left in the private bathroom of our main reviewer, with a note asking if we would kindly look at this “promising author’s new wrok”.
After such an inauspicious beginning, it is perhaps not surprising that Corrigan himself doubts the power of his own words, seemingly naysaying the whole enterprise with a self-negating quote on the inside front cover.
“The first thing is to acknowledge that the ancient Egyptian era is so completely different from our own that any cultural, political and business parallels that we draw between the two eras are, by their nature, almost bound to be wrong,” he writes.
Full marks, at least, for Mark’s honesty.
Sadly, Mark lacks the confidence of other blaggers in the business self-help industry, continuing to shoot down each argument with some self-effacing, hopelessly middle-class British remark.
It’s almost as if he doesn’t believe in his heart that there really are any cultural, political and business parallels to be drawn between an agrarian civilisation ruled by godkings and a modern Britain governed by EU rules.
How else to explain his assertion that Egyptian hieroglyphics are an “ancient form of emoji?” Or that business managers should be worshipped as a type of living god?
The comparison between the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Millennium Dome in the chapter entitled “Build Something Really Big To Awe The Proletariat” can only be regarded as tongue firmly in cheek.
We sense a kind of envy in Mark at the autocratic power of the pharaohs. They knew how to “get things done”, unshackled by “Brussels bureaucracy”. Certainly, there would have been no Brexit under Ramesses I. Or unions. (He also makes unflattering comparisons with the British Government and Rommel.)
The fact that the last third of the book is written in all caps – and by all indications, in some sort of frenzied state, as if chasing some self-imposed deadline – further removes any enjoyment for the reader. (One sentence is interrupted by the comment “get out of the room and leave me alone, Jez”. Was that some flawed reference to Sedge and Bee, the symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt?).
We can’t also escape the impression that the book consists entirely of cheap-quality printouts.
Business Secrets Of The Pharaohs would have benefitted from a better editor – or, indeed, sign of any type of editor.
Still, despite everything, we detect a sliver of potential in Mark Corrigan’s work.

My military thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

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