You will remember Brooks best for Once in Golconda (1969) and The Go-Go Years (1973). He's a smooth writer who generally...

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TELEPHONE: The First 100 Years

You will remember Brooks best for Once in Golconda (1969) and The Go-Go Years (1973). He's a smooth writer who generally brings a certain excitement to the gray annals of business, but he does not overcome the problems inherent in this subsidized corporate biography. The only human interest in the story revolves around Alexander Bell's race for the patent on his invention, his courtship of a deaf-mute, and his relationship with Watson; but Bell retired early, leaving the firm in the hands of the moguls. The unexploited potential of the subject is that AT&T is, of course, not just the only legalized monopoly in the country but also, as the day follows the night, ""the richest corporation on the face of the earth."" But the tales of the little independents which were systematically forced to the wall and then bought out, of union-busting, of the raking-off of excessive profits, and the ongoing but half-hearted FCC litigation against the monolithic Bell are told as if the author were, in fair weather or foul, the company's number one cheerleader. It is all perfunctorily related, spliced with accounts of technical advances hatched in the Bell Labs, the usual executive hagiographies, and meticulously detailed from company files made available for the first time. The result is so dull that it's painful to read, as if Brooks were telling us he wasn't really involved with this project. A sad waste of a good man's talent, and ""social history"" it is not--by a long distance.

Pub Date: March 10, 1976

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1976