and Cautionary Notes
After 25 years of constant learning, I have developed definite preferences. There are some things I can recommend highly. And there are some things I would caution against. Below are my personal opinions.
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised --
The Right Book
[See separate page for fuller description]
To help the reader shop for the book, I display the cover of the current edition, and I add my commentary and advice, on its own page.
Click on the link below for more information to learn which book is considered the official current edition.
Click here to be taken to The Right Book page.
Now, for the rest of this page, I will mention some books and material which are being sold today, and I will tell you what I think about those products.
Some are good. Some are bad.
I'll start with the good.
Surprisingly, I can recommend these two books:
• Robert's Rules for Dummies
• The Complete Idiot's Guide to Robert's Rules
I know both authors.
C. Alan Jennings (see Dummies) moderates one of the parliamentary chat rooms on YahooGroups. So he is the list janitor who deletes our posts when our group gets off topic. Alan was bouncing off ideas with our group while he was drafting his book. So I have a preference for Alan's book.
Update: 2nd edition published, July 2012.
Nancy Sylvester (see Idiot's Guide) is published regularly in the parliamentary journals. I have attended a workshop or two where Nancy was the moderator. She's been involved in some interesting projects, which she then writes about in our parliamentary periodicals.
New as of 2012 is a short version by the publishers of The Idiot's Guide.
• The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parliamentary Procedure
I know the author. Jim Slaughter is a parliamentarian and a lawyer. I have tapped into Jim's database of parliamentary articles which he keeps on-line in a searchable format. This book is part of a new series by the publisher, "Fast Track." I have not yet read this book, so I do not know if it contains new information or contains a simplification of the other books.
I didn't think it was possible for an abbreviated summary of Robert's Rules could go so wrong. But here, case in point, are two products which are still being sold to an unsuspecting public. See the illustration below of two products. One is a book, and one is a plastic-coated study guide.
The book on the left side is titled "21st Century Robert's Rules of Order," copyrighted by The Philip Leaf Group Inc., with the cover credits reading as Laurie E. Rozakis as the "compiler" and Ellen Lichtenstein as the "special consultant."
My opinion: NOT RECOMMENDED.
The text is not based on Robert's Rules of Order, but incorporates all sorts of extra text which isn't from any edition of Robert's Rules of Order. But worse, the text which supposedly is taken from Robert's Rules is often just wrong enough to be deceptive. The worst part of the book is the typographical errors. The typographical errors should have been caught in its 2nd printing or 3rd or 4th or 5th. But my paperback copy says it is the 7th printing. There is no excuse to have allowed so many typographical errors to stand. Just as useless is the fact that there is no index. Can you imagine a technical subject like parliamentary procedure being summarized in a book but without an index? Would you buy a book on accounting or astronomy which didn't have an index? You should see my penciled marginal notes in my paperback — there must be an average of two errors or irregularities per page! I stopped making marginal notations after two chapters. Just too many. This is unacceptable.
The image on the right, titled "Parliamentary Procedure," is a laminated 8.5" x 11" four-sided study guide, one of the Quick Study series, and copyrighted by Bar Charts Inc., and its layout and design is credited to Christian Ortiz. The text claims to be based on the 1893 edition of Robert's Rules of Order, which would be the third edition, a whopping 120 years old.
My opinion: NOT RECOMMENDED.
Once I found that its description of the motion "Fix the time to which to adjourn" was misinterpreted as a motion to set the hour of adjournment, then I knew that whoever cobbled this crap together had not actually read the book, but skimmed the book, and without any review from any parliamentarian.
I had written the publisher years ago, pointing out the specific errors, and the publisher replied that they rely on the chief contributor's interpretation for the accuracy of such charts. "Interpretation"? I wrote back asking if they rely on personal interpretation for such rigorous subjects like accounting or physics. No reply. So the chief contributor got it wrong, and the publisher doesn't care. And remember, to top it off, the data itself is based on an obsolete edition of Robert's Rules of Order, 120 years out of date.