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The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversay Edition [Hardcover]

By Nancy Dunnan (Author) & Nancy Dunnan (Author)
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Item description for The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversay Edition by Nancy Dunnan & Nancy Dunnan...

The authors update the classic guide to etiquette, first published in 1952, with advice on how to handle cell phone calls, a day at the gym, business meetings, celebrations, entertainment, and correspondence, as well as other important topics. Reissue.

Publishers Description
The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette is the most authoritative book of its kind. Filled with practical advice for every occasion, business and pleasure, this book ensures that all of your social interactions will be handled with grace and confidence.

This classic guide, first published in 1952, has been fully updated to reflect the concerns of the modern reader. The advice that has made Amy Vanderbilt the first name in etiquette remains pertinent today. Here is the final word on buying and using stationery, responding to dinner invitations, hosting a party, and attending religious ceremonies. The chapter of the most enduring popularity is, of course, the one on weddings. From addressing invitations to sending thank you notes, everything a bride needs to plan the perfect wedding is easily accessible.

In addition to the time-honored guidance that has made this book a treasured reference, this updated edition contains information that addresses modern concerns of every kind. Here is advice on answering cellular phone calls in public, behaving courteously at the gym, and speaking at business meetings.

Whether you need to compose an invitation, write a letter of condolence, address your senator, set a dinner table, or buy a gift for a foreign business associate, you will find The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette practical, down-to-earth, and always reliable.

Updated and revised by former White House Staff Coordinator Nancy Tuckerman and respected businesswoman Nancy Dunnan, this trusted book remains the most complete and authoritative guide to living well.
"Manners are the happy way of doing things, each one a stroke of genius or of love."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nancy Tuckerman worked at the White House as Staff Coordinator to Mrs. Kennedy, arranging all aspects of state dinners, state entertainment, ordering state gifts, and coordinating President Kennedy's receptions on his state visits abroad. In addition to authoring In the Tiffany Style: Gift-Giving for All Occasions, she contributed to the 1978 edition of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette.

Nancy Dunnan is the author of numerous books, including The Dunn & Bradstreet Guide to Your Investments. She also has regular columns in Your Money and Married Women magazines and contributes to many others. Since 1989, she has had a regular one-hour call-in program on WNYC Public Radio. Both authors live in New York City.

To many people, the word "etiquette" implies white gloves, finger bowls, children curtsying, and other genteel manners that once were the hallmark of proper behavior. But few people know the actual etymology of this rather daunting word that describes a system of conventional rules that regulate social behavior. The word literally means a "ticket" or "card," and refers to the ancient custom of a monarch setting forth ceremonial rules and regulations to be observed by members of his court. As far back as Anglo-Saxon times, consideration for others, as well as observance of a monarch's rules, was a part of etiquette, as demonstrated in the epic poem Beowulf, written around A.D. 700, when Queen Wealtheow, "mindful of etiquette," offered the goblet first to the king, then to the courtiers, and finally to herself. And through the centuries the observance of such consideration has remained unquestioned.

While elaborate court rituals have gone the way of other archaic customs, "mindful etiquette" remains constant. Conversely, the world around us never remains constant. Since 1978, when the last edition of this book was published, we have seen new technologies surface that call for modifications in our social customs. For instance, technology has given us the fax machine, voice mail, and cellular phones. Women now play a more prominent role in our work force; thermography frequently replaces engraving; and smoking is not allowed in most public places. Even the basic structure of our family life is very different. Divorce is no longer the exception; the single parent is not unusual; the unmarried couple living together is commonplace; Ms. is a title firmly rooted in our language; and more women than ever are keeping their surnames after marriage.

As would be expected, the more conventional aspects of etiquette that are so much a part of our daily life--being considerate of others, teaching children table manners, letter writing, gift giving, being a guest at a wedding, getting along with coworkers--are covered with equal importance, as are occasions that center around formal dinner parties and dances, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs, and other time-honored rituals. On these more formal occasions when we want to put our best foot forward, an understanding of traditional etiquette is practical as well as reassuring. There's a certain satisfaction that comes with putting our best foot forward. Just as we admire the lawyer who knows how to win a case, the speaker who knows how to hold the audience's attention, the corporate president who knows how to chair a meeting, so too are we admired when we make our guests feel at ease, plan the perfect wedding, or give a loving eulogy.

While the intention of this book is to help you communicate well with others and to feel confident in social situations, bear in mind that it is not the end of the world if you use the wrong fork, stumble over an introduction, or stand up when you are the one being toasted. Still, you'll feel a lot more relaxed if you are familiar with the code of behavior for any given occasion; well primed in this respect, you will find yourself concentrating on others rather than yourself, and--not the least--you'll be better able to enjoy yourself. As Amy Vanderbilt wrote in the introduction to the original 1952 edition: "I believe that knowledge of the rules of living in our society makes us more comfortable...[although] some of the rudest and most objectionable people T have ever known have been technically the most "correct."...Some of the warmest, most lovable, have had little more than an innate feeling of what is right toward others. But, at the same time, they have had the intelligence to inform themselves, as necessary, on the rules of social intercourse as related to their own experiences. Only a great fool or a great genius is likely to flout all social grace with impunity, and neither one, doing so, makes the most comfortable companion."

Few people will read this book from cover to cover, nor are they expected to. However, like any reference book, there is a place for an etiquette book in every home library and on every office bookshelf. Even the most sophisticated man or woman cannot hope to remember every single aspect of etiquette that applies to even one possible social, or for that matter business, situation. Most of us remember only those details that have or had a relevance to our own way of living. This book addresses as fully and as simply as possible all the major questions of etiquette. It is here for you to turn to when the need arises.



Certain formal occasions in our lives remain rooted in tradition. When we have an audience with the Pope, visit the White House, or salute the flag, we follow longstanding customs that require specific codes of conduct. Observing these customs helps us feel at ease in situations of an official nature, knowing what is expected and how to behave.

Where change has entered into our personal lives most obviously is in our social customs. Contemporary living includes dual-city marriages, unmarried women having children, gay couples adopting, as well as terms like "latchkey" child. Needless to say, the rules for behavior in these situations were not imposed by social leaders but rather were created by people whose circumstances made them feel confined by certain conventions and so were motivated to extend the bounds of accepted social behavior. Although not everyone may sanction today's social options, they are discussed here because they aren't going away and must be addressed.



The family can be a great joy, a loving refuge from a difficult world. But it can also be the source of great stress. The tone of a household is determined by the people who run it; in a traditional one, that means the mother and the father. Today it may also mean a single parent, occasionally a gay couple, or two adults of either sex who simply opt to live together. Luckily for us, we have been raised in a society in which democratic principles filter down to the private level. Most heads of American households operate not as dictatorial autocrats but more as chairpersons who help guide the family toward order, stability, and harmony. You and your spouse can create a home that is pleasant to live in and a joy for friends to visit by keeping three things in mind: Maintain your mutual respect. Keep communication lines open. And never, ever, lose your sense of humor.


If each of us lived in a protective glass bubble, never encroached on anyone else's living space, and never interacted with another soul, there would be no need for manners. We could simply do as we pleased, go about our business, and it wouldn't matter to anyone else. But since Homo sapiens is gregarious and likes to establish and live in communities, and even in more intimate settings such as houses or apartments, rules of conduct are imperative. The starting point for all rules is the need to treat others with as much kindness and courtesy as you would like them to treat you with.

That means keeping your more self-centered instincts in check. The best way to do this, especially in a family with school-age children, is to establish some guidelines for living together. In the case of a large family, where lots of cooperation is required just to get everyone out the door each morning, it can make sense to periodically hold a kind of town hall meeting at the dinner table. There, members can hash out rules about keeping the bathrooms and bedrooms neat, telephone use, television viewing, guest policies, the sharing of common living space. Rules can be revised weekly or monthly. Such organized rap sessions can defuse daily squabbles because family members know their grievances will have a chance to be aired. A scheduled meeting also gives the aggrieved parties time to come up with constructive solutions to their problems, instead of simply voicing continual--and annoying--complaints.

Parental unity plays a major factor in keeping a household harmonious. Parents who are obviously divided on such basic subjects as permissiveness, religion, work, money, education, exercise, will send conflicting messages to their children. Some children, sensing the discord, may even try to intensify the friction by playing parents off against each other to their advantage. Whenever possible, it's best to settle divisive issues behind closed doors. Children want and need consistency.

Another potential point of friction is the extended family. Almost everyone comes to a marriage with some other family ties--and it's wise to decide policy on future in-laws well before the wedding. Remember, in each culture, in-laws have different expectations. If, say, a woman marries a man who was born in some faraway European city, his parents and distant cousins may see nothing wrong with their making impromptu visits of a few weeks at a time when they feel like it. On the other hand, even the most pleasant in-laws who live close should be sensitive about making unannounced visits. When grandchildren arrive or a parent-in-law is widowed, the entire extended family structure may need to be reevaluated, particularly if you decide to make one or more of your in-laws a permanent resident in your home.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversay Edition by Nancy Dunnan & Nancy Dunnan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 324
  • Library Journal - 03/15/1995 page 64
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1995 page 49
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 223
  • Library Journal - 06/01/2000 page 212
  • ALA Ref Srces for Small/Med Li - 01/01/2000 page 178
  • Library Journal - 03/15/1995
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 227

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Doubleday
Pages   786
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.44" Width: 6.62" Height: 2.25"
Weight:   2.55 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1995
Publisher   Doubleday
Edition  Updated  
ISBN  0385413424  
ISBN13  9780385413428  

Availability  0 units.

More About Nancy Dunnan & Nancy Dunnan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Nancy Tuckerman worked at the White House as Staff Coordinator to Mrs. Kennedy, arranging all aspects of state dinners, state entertainment, ordering state gifts, and coordinating President Kennedy's receptions on his state visits abroad. In addition to authoring In the Tiffany Style: Gift-Giving for All Occasions, she contributed to the 1978 edition of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette.
Nancy Dunnan is the author of numerous books, including The Dunn & Bradstreet Guide to Your Investments. She also has regular columns in Your Money and Married Women magazines and contributes to many others. Since 1989, she has had a regular one-hour call-in program on WNYC Public Radio. Both authors live in New York City.

Nancy Tuckerman was born in 1928.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality
2Books > Subjects > Reference > Etiquette > General
3Books > Subjects > Reference > Etiquette
4Books > Subjects > Reference > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversay Edition?

I liked it!   Apr 5, 2008
This book is vry informative and really has some great information. I wish more people would read it and learn a little!
Manners   Nov 15, 2007
Excellent reference for the proper to the ignorant. Great gift for those who spout manners and etiquette but wouldn't know it if it ran them over, send anonymously of course!
Today's World Has Some Shortcomings.  Nov 23, 2005
Etiquette are the rules to apply toward others in public. When you work in the public sector, there are such a thing as manners and treating others as you want to be treated. In Sunday's local paper, there was an article "Do clothes still make the man -- or woman?" in which a former chief deputy clerk in the District Court gives accounts of how the judges treated jury members and defendants who were not properly dressed according to his wishes. Ties were required as was dress wear instead of just being clean and properly groomed. He bases his account on the 'Andy Griffith show' which still plays on local television, and used Amy Vanderbilt's GUIDE TO GRACIOUS LIVING about how to greet people on the street. Well, he is an older man, granted, but he does not follow his own advice. I saw him coming out of the History Center on the main street of town; when he acknowledged he knew me, he turned and walked around the block so as not to have to converse with me. He criticized the way people dress today in public and asks, "Whatever happened to class?"

According to this volume, which is a bit outdated but not as much as the Vanderbilt guide he used, a woman should dress according to her profession. Seeing a woman move up the ranks at the local transit system, going from old-fashioned denim dress with boots to cover the rest of her, to dressing like a common street walker, I had to make a comment, "You need to dress professional." Her boss, attired in orange pants and ball cap at a special "Meet the Manager" day, dressed down to what he perceived is the level of the riders; he asked me, "Do you think I should be wearing a suit?" and I merely said, "I will tell you what I did Ms. Pickle, "You should dress professional" if they want to receive the admiration of the public they are purportedly representing. The rudeness of some transit employees show their disrespect for the older person of different races and for their job. When we get on that bus, our lives are in the hands of these rude, surly, prejudiced persons who say derogatory remarks to and about passengers in front of others. They can refuse to stop to pick you up at their discretion, and they take advantage of that. It's not just bad manners. It shows how regressed a certain percentage of the population has become. They are ignorant and uneducated, and show it.

A man should never wear frayed shirt collars and cuffs no matter what the occasion is. I saw a local celebrity on the sidewalk outside his office with a torn place on his pants leg. Some people have no pride in their work or position in the community. Her advice: "Know who you are" and dress accordingly. In the Northeast, you must never wear white shoes and accessories after Labor Day, but that doesn't apply to the South.

A good rule for both sexes is to never dress in clothes that are too tight; they make a thin person look gaunt and a large person twice as heavy. There are people who are not interested in how they are perceived dress according to the weather and, even in public, wear ill-fitting casual wear. If they could just see themselves from the rear!

By all means, we need to smell good. I like her hand lotion but the perfume is too strong. Sometimes, riding the local buses, I have to put some of the lotion on a handkerchief and hold it to my nose, as the homeless and some others don't practice good hygiene. With the increase in rates, perhaps that smelly group of people won't be so prevelant.

This is a GREAT Book  Aug 29, 2005
I am a friend of Mrs. Tuckerman and she worked really hard on this book. I read this book all the time. I use it for every occasion. Give these great ladies some credit, they want to be a little old fashined then it's thier choice. If you don't like this book then don't read it or buy it. I am a devoted fan of this book. Mrs. Tuckerman is the sweetest and coolest lady her age. I myself am a asipring writer ( I write fun news type stories).
A disappointment, but still an authority  Oct 13, 2003
My mother has a copy of the original edition, so I grew up treating Vanderbilt's work as a constant reference for social graces. Naturally, I was overjoyed to learn that a new edition had made an appearance. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

With no disrespect intended to Tuckerman et al for their fine work, this once-great guide is a shadow of its former self. It is no less accurate than it once was, but is unfortunately much more base. Do people really need to be told not to leave dirty dishes lying about, for example?

As a guide to minimal civilized behaviour--how not to behave like a spoiled child--it carries the tradition of excellence. However, for the finer points of etiquette, I strongly recommend tracking down a copy of the 1978 (Baldrige ed.) edition of this great reference.


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