Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

3.4 18
by Toby Young

See All Formats & Editions

You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again meets The Bonfire of the Vanities, as told by...a male Bridget Jones? And it all really happened.
In 1995 high-flying British journalist Toby Young left London for New York to become a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Other Brits had taken Manhattan-Alistair Cooke then, Anna Wintour now-so why couldn


You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again meets The Bonfire of the Vanities, as told by...a male Bridget Jones? And it all really happened.
In 1995 high-flying British journalist Toby Young left London for New York to become a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Other Brits had taken Manhattan-Alistair Cooke then, Anna Wintour now-so why couldn't he? But things didn't quite go according to plan. Within the space of two years he was fired from Vanity Fair, banned from the most fashionable bar in the city, and couldn't get a date for love or money. Even the local AA group wanted nothing to do with him. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is Toby Young's hilarious account of the five years he spent looking for love in all the wrong places and steadily working his way down the New York food chain, from glossy magazine editor to crash-test dummy for interactive sex toys. But it's more than "the longest self-deprecating joke since the complete works of Woody Allen" (Sunday Times); it's also a seditious attack on the culture of celebrity from inside the belly of the beast. And there's even a happy ending, as Toby Young marries-"for proper, noncynical reasons," as he puts it-the woman of his dreams. "Some people are lucky enough to stumble across the right path straight away; most of us only discover what the right one is by going down the wrong one first."
"I'll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book."
-Julie Burchill
"A relentlessly brilliant book—a What Makes Sammy Run for the twenty-first century...the funniest, cleverest, most touching new book I've read for as long as I can remember."
-Julie Burchill, The Spectator

Author Biography: Toby Young was born in 1963. In the course of his career as a journalist he has been fired from a succession of prestigious newspapers and magazines, including the Times of London, the Guardian, the Independent, and Vanity Fair. He lives in London.

Editorial Reviews

He's young, he's British, and he's come to our shores intent on making a name for himself at Vanity Fair magazine. He's Toby Young, and this hysterical account of his (failed) attempt to "take Manhattan" will have you rolling in the aisles.
Young unsuccessfully chases his dream to become a Manhattan mover and shaker, but successfully catalogues his experience into an excellent book.
Wall Street Journal
Mr. Young ... recounts his experience with wit, a flair for comedy, self-deprecation and a goodish bit of sociological insight on the side.
New York Post
Destined to become the most talked-about summer read in town.
Village Voice
Full of amusing dish on the media world.
Toronto Globe & Mail
Achingly funny.
New City Chicago
[The book] reads so snappily and is so self-effacing you can't help but commiserate.
Hilarious lifestyles of the rich and shameless.
A gimlet-eyed insider's account of the status-obsessed, celebrity-beholden glossy magazine mafia.
San Francisco Chronicle
[Young's] sharp humor, fluid style, and inside dish make his tale a gossipy confection.
A very funny book.
Sunday Times
As career moves go, Toby Young's were the worst since Abraham Lincoln booked theatre tickets. But they make a magnificent read.
It'll make you feel a whole lot better about your own miserable career.
Time Out
Hugely enjoyable.
Courier Mail
Reads like a cross between Bonfire of the Vanities and an episode of 'Seinfeld.'
A feel-good book. Really.
Publishers Weekly
Seemingly unable to keep from offending everyone he comes in contact with, British-born Young is a misfit in the New York publishing world. He isn't attractive (he calls himself a Philip Seymour Hoffman look-alike, but with bad teeth), he's socially inept without alcohol and, most importantly, he's consumed with the desire to "be somebody." His memoir is a hilarious and scathing insider's view of the world in which Young wishes so badly to fit. Hired by editor Graydon Carter to work at Vanity Fair ("Basically I forgot to fire Toby Young every day for two years"), Young is shocked to find that his journalist colleagues are more awed by celebrity than news and are more likely to cuddle up with publicists than with a smoke and a shot at the local watering hole. The saving grace of Young's tale of his own downward spiral is his ability to lambaste himself along with the New York publishing world. Young's crisp reading of this memoir is highly entertaining and bitter, yet guileless and funny. His hilariously screechy imitations of some of the female heavy hitters of the publishing world (such as Tina Brown and Peggy Siegal) bring out his knack for hyperbole and his boyish, prankster style. Simultaneous release with the Da Capo hardcover (Forecasts, June 10). (July) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Kiss-and-tell memoir of Young's ill-fated stint as contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine. When we first meet our hero, he is desperately attempting to gain admittance to the 1994 Vanity Fair Oscar party, the most exclusive ticket in Hollywood on the night of the Academy Awards. Not that he is truly starstruck, Young says. No, he has adopted this attitude in response to his British circle's sham indifference to celebrities: "I hammed up my obsession with A-list stars as a way of letting my friends know I found their pretence at insouciance totally unconvincing." This contrary attitude coupled with romantic notions about Algonquin Round Table journalism eventually delivers Young, the son of towering English intellectuals, to the New York offices of Vanity Fair, where he attempts, mostly unsuccessfully, to make a splash. Editor Graydon Carter is unimpressed with his story pitches; a barroom brawl results in Young's name being removed from the masthead; and an uninformed Young hires a stripper to come to the office on "Bring our daughters to work day." In between detailing his own failures, Young dishes his friends and colleagues (for some reason, Anthony Haden-Guest is given a particularly rough time of it), moans about what serious wankers his workmates are (the Vanity Fair offices are compared to an accounting firm), and brings Tocqueville's observations about Americans to bear on contemporary culture. This skewering of celebrity worship at the nation's leading "upscale supermarket tabloid" bears a distinct resemblance to shooting fish in a barrel; nonetheless, Young's language is energetic and engaging, making one wish (along with his father, apparently) that he'd find a worthiersubject. Enjoyably bitchy specifics of Conde Nast culture, buried beneath tedious social analysis and self-deprecation.

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.42(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.43(d)

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1

Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots.”

It was the afternoon of June 8, 1995, when I finally got the call.

“This is Dana Brown from Graydon Carter’s office. Is this Toby Young?”

“Er, yes.”

“One moment please.”


“Toby? It’s Graydon. How’d you like to come hang out for a month?”

This was it, the one I’d been waiting for. Ever since the night of the Vanity Fair party fifteen months earlier, I’d been assiduously cultivating the magazine’s editor. I’d written three pieces for him at this stage and whenever I bumped into him on one of his regular jaunts to London I’d done my best to charm him. The fact that he was offering me no more than a month’s work was largely academic. It was a one-month trial and, provided I didn’t screw up, it would lead to a full-time job. I felt like Boot, the hero of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, being summoned by The Daily Beast.

To me, Vanity Fair wasn’t just another glossy, New York magazine. It was a link to Manhattan during its golden age, the era of the Algonquin Round Table. During Vanity Fair’s first incarnation, from 1914–36, its contributors had included Dorothy Parker, Edmund Wilson, Robert Benchley, D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, Colette, Cocteau, Herman J. Mankiewicz ... the list is endless. Even Houdini had written for Vanity Fair. It had been resurrected in 1983 by S. I. Newhouse Jr., the billionaire owner of Condé Nast, and from 1984–92 it had been edited by Tina Brown, formerly at the helm of Tatler. Tina was thirty when she received the call from Si, as he’s known, and she went on to edit The New Yorker, the most prestigious job in American magazine journalism. Under Tina, Vanity Fair had become the monthly bible of the Jet Set, an eclectic combination of Hollywood glamour, high society and true crime that Tina referred to as “the mix.” It wasn’t exactly the highbrow, literary magazine it had been, but it was still a damn sight more sexy than any of its British rivals.

I first met Graydon in 1993 at a Sunday Times lunch in London about a year after he’d succeeded Tina. I was twenty-nine at the time and had already worked for a wide cross-section of British publications, from The Literary Review to Hello!, but I’d never encountered a magazine editor quite like him. With his threadbare, Savile Row suit and dog-eared Jermyn Street shirt, not to mention his eccentric hairstyle, he had a slightly raffish air, more reminiscent of The Spectator than one of the glossies. When he spoke, though, he sounded like a Chicago newspaperman of the old school, spitting out one-liners like a character in The Front Page.

For instance, after a few glasses of wine I suggested that Vanity Fair should run a photographic feature on “literary London” featuring headshots of Britain’s most distinguished authors in their favorite pubs. The idea was to illustrate the connection between alcohol and London literary life.

“What, are you kidding?” he responded. “It’d look like a fucking dental textbook.”

The impression he gave was of a man who’d gone to a great deal of trouble to cultivate a particular image—a faintly bohemian Wasp with literary aspirations—but was only too happy to contradict it the moment he opened his mouth. As far as I could tell, his stream of seditious wisecracks, punctuated by expletives, was a way of letting you know that he was on your side even if he appeared to be a member of the Establishment.

I hoped it was true.



Meet the Author

Toby Young was born in 1963. In the course of his career as a journalist he has been fired from a succession of prestigious newspapers and magazines, including the Times of London, the Guardian, the Independent, and Vanity Fair. He lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, the reader gets to see first hand, Toby's adventurous life from motherland England to new-world NYC. Toby has a particular attitude and characteristic that makes his memoir a delight to read. Toby has a passion to meet and date famous celebrities and party the night away with women. However, that's just a desire Toby may or may not experience. The plot of the story is not very concrete like a normal book, but very "jumpy" in the sense where each chapter is either creating a new problem or explaining the outcome of a problem. As a person who never leisurely reads, I must say this is one book I found hard to put down. Many times I would start the book and read multiple chapters at a time only to read more of Toby's screw ups and dilemmas at Vanity Fair and his quest for a celebrity life. This book has pages of humor and sex comments which makes it a great light read before bed or just a light read during traveling. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People will surely make time fly by.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
more like how to lose friends and alienate readers.
hiii More than 1 year ago
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby young is a memoir of Tobys life when he worked for Vanity Fair and lived in New York. Toby Young is an unsuccessful British journalist who gets invited to work for a glossy New York magazine. This book shows Tobys self-destructive nature in full from alcohol to cocaine and his idolization of movie stars. The story follows all the things toby does while working for Vanity Fair and his stay in New York. You'll read about his childish shenanigans and his late night partying. He tells about his whole life during this period from work to his trouble with women and everything in-between I thought that the book was funny and interesting. I was laughing through almost the entire book. A couple chapters are more for setting up the situation rather then humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Young is an intelligent and clever writer. He has pretty much mastered the art of self-deprecation. Often times, the reader is caught between pitying and laughing at the author and his serious lapses in judgment.

Several times while reading this book I wanted to grab Mr. Young by his collar, slap him and tell him to shut up...for his own good. He is a man who would not (or maybe could not) learn from his mistakes. Considering he¿s a bit more than ten years my senior, I was surprised how many times I found myself wanting to tell him to grow up!

A bit preachy at times
Many, many times he analyzes (and gripes about) America and Americans when his beef, in fact, lies with New York City (Manhattan, really) and a minority of its denizens. He built a fantasy world of what New York was going to be like based on stories of `the Algonquin-to-Hollywood group¿ (Ben Hecht and Herman J. Mankiewicz, among others) and was fiercely disappointed in finding his Manhattan contemporaries to be so (in Mr. Young¿s own words) `disturbingly well adjusted¿.
He also asserts America holds itself up to be a meritocracy when, in reality, it is an aristocracy. The author cites our current President to bolster his claim. While there is some truth to Toby's assertion, it is hard to swallow because it's tainted with the juice of sour grapes.

If you want to go beyond the velvet ropes and sneak a peek at the behind-the-scenes world of celebrity parties, glossy magazines and the antics of prominent New York City columnists and publication VIPs, all through the eyes of a lowly hack, you'll probably get a kick out of this book. He drops names fairly often and reading about how these people sometimes behave when the spotlight is off is deliciously naughty. Unfortunately, the laughs aren't as memorable as the lectures and the reader is left wondering if, in the end, Toby Young really learned anything at all.

Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a definate,'How not to succeed in the workplace manual'.....but he was funny, self-effacing..a George Contanza type individual!....Toby is a riot!
Guest More than 1 year ago
--- Good observation of the people of the US, as a society with the eyes of the rest part of the world. Who says that? My European and Japanese passengers in my limo are constantly recalling similar funny or bitter experience. It isn¿t about Native Americans, rather the residents of the US that is the most colorful mix on the earth. --- Isn¿t it sad that even smart people (like ordinary lawyers) haven¿t acquired enough wisdom to comprehend the author real point? Point: Here in the US even the British or Hungarian folks are willing to turn themselves inside out for money they never will be able to enjoy. Or as we Hungarians like to say: Lots of people are out there, ready to kill his parents just to getting free dinner at the orphanage. --- If you are age 20 or over and have $20, good senses of humor and a few hours in a place where you can laugh freely then you have to buy this book. If you are under 20 you may want to wait, if you do not have the rest after age 20 you just have to give up, you never goanna get them no matter what is your origin.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Toby Young gives a searing account of life as a corporate climbing weasel in our fair city of New York. Admittedly, some parts of the book are a tad drawn out and tedious, as he goes into great detail about seemingly meaningless details. But I found even these drawn out parts of the book fascinating and humorous. I don't think this is the first book about superficial life in New York, but Young's description is hilarious enough to nonetheless be original. Watching him slither from one public relations disaster to the next is addictive. This book rocks!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although a bit funny and juicy, this tallented man prefer to wastes all his intelligence only ot tell us how full of themselves the US celebrities are? as if hugh Grant is a human-rights volunteer...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I loved the humour of this book I loved it more for its analysis of the differences between our culture and the prevailing one in N.Y. The current obsession with celebrity was fascinatingly explored and Toby made an adorable anti-hero (although like Heathcliffe I don't suppose he's as charming in reality as he is on the page! To be fair to Toby, part of the delight of this book is that he is able to see himself from his Editor's viewpoint too and the reader has considerable sympathy for Carter). I would have been interested to learn more about Toby's battle with the bottle, but maybe he's saved that for another book. I do hope so.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book!!! Easy to read,a page turner. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend to anyone who still believes that the only thing British writers are good at is catching members of the Royal family smoking pot and cheating on their wives. This guy is a writer from the old school, he reports what he sees and is not only reprimanded for it, but ostercisized from a literary world populated by posers of the worst kind... Manhattan's elite. Not only very funny, but an honest and open commentary on society.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For just $2 more, and B&N send you this weirdly hilarious book a whole month sooner than that other site. Bargain! I can¿t remember when I last laughed out loud at mere words on the page. This crazy Brit loser has it: he comes over to the Big A to write for Vanity Fair but really to check out the tony parties and the hot babes. He totally flubs it all down the line but gets such a kickin¿ book out of it, I wouldn¿t have it any other way. Pre-9/11, this sort of Loser Lit would¿ve been dumped right back in Mr Young¿s genteel limey lap, but he hits a nervous nerve that makes ¿Lose/Alienate¿ even more worth reading. I don¿t usually hold with heavy stuff mixed in with deadpan humor, but this Young guy really hits home with quotes from the likes of Tocqueville: ¿I do not know any country where, in general, less independence of mind and genuine freedom of discussion reign than in America.¿ Bone-close digs; serious dead-pan Monty Python-est humor; the next book to be filmed from the ranks of London¿s UK ¿twiterati¿ .
Cornellian More than 1 year ago
Despite the original title and promising storyline, I was generally underwhelmed by this book from the beginning. Perhaps I my expectations were high, having just read Tucker Max's "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." Young (at least in the book) is mostly an unremarkable man who fails to make us love him or hate him, therefore leaving the reader generally uninterested in his story. Even the "happy" ending is disappointing and predictable. Read Tucker Max instead.