Craig Lambert

Craig Lambert

Craig Lambert, a staff writer and editor at Harvard Magazine, has written for Sports Illustrated and Town & Country. He trains and races in single sculls on the Charles River in Boston, and occasionally competes in major rowing events, such as the Head of the Charles Regatta.

Mind Over Water

Houghton Mifflin, 1998

In this wise and thrilling book, Craig Lambert turns rowing—personal discipline, modern Olympic sport, grand collegiate tradition, and fitness pursuit for thousands of men and women—into a metaphor for a vigorous and satisfying life. Skimming the plane where sky and water meet, rowers must fully inhabit the present moment, whether facing their demons in a single scull or discovering the paradoxes of teamwork and commitment in a crew shell. This is a book about balance, attaining consistency and speed, independence and cooperation, joy and creative powers. Filled with humor and imagination, Mind Over Water speaks to rowers and non-rowers alike.

"Like Einstein, we wish to know God's thoughts. We shall attempt to pry them loose with an oar. The raw elements of the sport are our teachers: the wind and the water, the boat and its oars, our own bodies and minds."  —  from Mind Over Water

Shadow Work

The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day

Counterpoint, 2015

With the exception of sleep, humans spend more of their lifetimes on work than any other activity. It is central to our economy, society, and the family. It underpins our finances and our sense of meaning in life. Given the overriding importance of work, we need to recognize a profound transformation in the nature of work that is significantly altering lives: the incoming tidal wave of shadow work.

Shadow work includes all the unpaid tasks we do on behalf of businesses and organizations. It has slipped into our routines stealthily; most of us do not realize how much of it we are already doing, even as we pump our own gas, scan and bag our own groceries, execute our own stock trades, and build our own unassembled furniture. But its presence is unmistakable, and its effects far-reaching.

Fueled by the twin forces of technology and skyrocketing personnel costs, shadow work has taken a foothold in our society. Lambert terms its prevalence as "middle-class serfdom," and examines its sources in the invasion of robotics, the democratization of expertise, and new demands on individuals at all levels of society. The end result? A more personalized form of consumption, a great social leveling (pedigrees don't help with shadow work!), and the weakening of communities as robotics reduce daily human interaction.

Shadow Work offers a field guide to this new phenomenon. It shines a light on these trends now so prevalent in our daily lives and, more importantly, offers valuable insight into how to counter their effects. It will be essential reading to anyone seeking to understand how their day got so full—and how to deal with the ubiquitous shadow work that surrounds them.

Shadow Work

"You doubtless feel too busy to read yet more about why we all feel so busy, but here's a short book to put on your long to-do list. Even if you have time only to skim it, you'll see your lack of leisure in a fresh light....[B]efore you can hope to rebalance your time, you'd better first understand how you actually spend it."—The Atlantic

"An insightful and original book that lit up areas of daily life I'd never looked at before. Lambert does a brilliant service by explaining where our vanished, old-fashioned free time went, and why." —Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia

"Increasingly, time is our scarcest resource. Craig Lambert's important book will change how you think about your days. Shadow work is a new and vitally important concept for understanding the new economy. Lambert's arguments need to be carefully considered by all who ponder our economic future." —Lawrence H. Summers, Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University.

"With precision, wit, and erudition, Craig Lambert identifies the invisible drains on our leisure time—and on our mental and emotional freedoms. None of us signed up for all of this pro bono overtime for corporations. How can we quit? This book shows the problem's economic and social causes—and even better, suggests an escape route." —Virginia Heffernan, author, Magic and Loss: The Pleasures of the Internet

"Without any debate or conscious choice, during the last couple of decades technology has radically changed the premises and nature of everyday life and work. We may know this, more or less, but reading Shadow Work still triggers multiple "D'oh!" moments. Craig Lambert lucidly, thoughtfully, and provocatively connects the dots of this profound, pervasive, and unfinished social and economic transformation." —Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host, Studio 360

"Who knows what larceny lurks in the heart of our economy? Lambert knows." —Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabet Juice

"Where have all the sales clerks/bank tellers/travel agents gone? Long time passing, along with the secretaries, waitstaff, ticket agents, and so many more. Those jobs still exist, but now you, the so-called customer, are doing them—without pay, of course, and on your own time. As Craig Lambert shows in this mordant, mischievous book, our no-service gig economy gives new meaning to the phrase "free market." —Hendrik Hertzberg, Staff writer, The New Yorker

"Think you know how you spend your days? Think again. Shadow Work is a visionary book that will change the way you look at—well, just about everything." —Andy Borowitz,The New Yorker

"I've been enjoying Craig Lambert's work for decades in Harvard Magazine. He can make any topic clear, readable, and fascinating. And here he's got a great story: the excess "shadow work" we've all taken on in the modern age. From the first page, he'll have you looking at your life, and the world, in a whole new way." —Mike Reiss, Emmy-winning writer, The Simpsons

"Shadow work is all the things we do—from assembling our own furniture to booking our own travel—that has become the new normal. And like everything that becomes the new normal, it is invisible. Lambert's ambition is substantial: to make that invisible visible. His hope is that once we see where we are, we can make some choices about where we want to go. A deft writer; a compelling case." —Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, MIT, and the author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

"Craig Lambert combines his gifts as sociologist and detective to solve that perennial mystery: where has all our time gone? In Shadow Work he reveals how we unwittingly perform labors that companies used to do, but have offloaded onto us. Reading Shadow Work will be full of A-ha! moments for readers. It's delightful, surprising, witty, and smart." —Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"Shadow Work is an eye-opening expose of the countless subtle ways in which corporations and other large organizations are conscripting all of us to donate our invaluable time and labor to advance their economic and other goals, without our consent and often even without our awareness. By bringing this serious problem out of the shadows, this important book makes an essential contribution toward countering it." —Nadine Strossen, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, New York Law School and former President of the ACLU

"This book will revolutionize the way you look at how you spend your time—doing countless hours of unpaid work for The Man. Like Malcolm Gladwell, Craig Lambert brilliantly reveals the hidden currents of contemporary life." —Daniel Klein, co-author, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes


Mind Over Water

The New York Times Book Review, Caroline Knapp
...thoughtful, lovingly drawn meditation.... In his hands, the river becomes a character in its own right, something to dip into for a time, something transporting. --This text refers to the hardcover edition of this title

The Boston Globe, Gail Caldwell
Lambert has finished the course well in Mind Over Water, which has the same attributes as the rowing he adores: precision, grace, and total immersion.

From Booklist, September 1, 1998
Written by an editor at Harvard Magazine, this meditation on the art of rowing is oar-stroke precise. Its themes are distilled into tight, poetic summations; its autobiographical elements (including the portrait of Boston's Charles River rowing community) prove engaging; its feels-like-you're-there descriptions have an appealing immediacy; and the author's passion for rowing is conveyed convincingly. Unfortunately, many of these virtues are smothered by tedious attempts to impart wisdom under the flimsy rubric of rowing as a metaphor for life. Lambert's metaphors, however, rarely resonate, leaving him in the uncomfortable position of seeming to exalt the unamazing. Still, there aren't many books on rowing out there, and this one attempts to look seriously at the sport's strange allure. Lambert's gaze occasionally drifts out of focus, but fellow rowers will applaud him for looking in the right direction. Recommended where the sport is popular. -- Dane Carr. Copyright© 1998, American Library Association. All rights reserved