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Modern economies are built by people agreeing to buy and sell for mutual benefit, but there is near-universal disdain for the sales process itself—including the people doing the selling. There is Arthur Miller’s pitiful Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, the most studied play in American schools, and the real estate agents of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, who, in the words of Philip Delves Boughton, are “victimized, duplicitous, and desperate, Marx’s capitalist nightmare made real."

The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton.

L. Gordon Crovitz is a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal and co-founder of Press+, a technology company acquired by RR Donnelley.

Edited excerpts. Comment at views@livemint.com

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