Mikkelsen, Kenneth & Martin, Richard, “The Neo-Generalist”

To select is also to exclude

Essential book information

Basic plot summary

The book by Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin summarises various stories of various individuals who refuse to follow the established path of specialisations and embrace their generalistic selves instead. Authors argue that it is time the society widely recognises the negative connotation of the “jack-of-all-trades, master of none”. The jack in question might be the master of many trades.


What I found most interesting in this book were the stories of the interviewees woven into the narrative. Other than that, I found the language overcomplicated and, therefore, not easy to read. I missed references explaining unfamiliar terms, and I missed headings and subheadings that would ground the reader, giving him structure. However, the authors themselves point out that this book is instead an invitation to a discussion. Their purpose when writing it was to provide the readers with a sense of identity, of not being an oddity – they have certainly succeeded.

My recommendation

I identified myself as a generalist for years, and I have witnessed and listened to all the standard arguments favouring specialisation at various times from various members of my social circles. I believe this book would be interesting to read for those who are on the journey to discover what does it mean to consciously and proudly embrace being a jack-of-all-trades and choose the correct ending to this phrase 🙂

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