Profiles of fourteen corporations based on the author's recent New York Times articles. Bender sketches management biographies and recent histories of Avon, General Foods, Pullman, Revlon and others, showing a remarkable variety of managerial styles and philosophies. ""Horatio Alger is alive and well in the executive suites of American business,"" she concludes. Surprisingly, outside of a few family companies, most corporate chiefs' have risen through the ranks; they were more likely to start as junior executive accountants than as fledgling entrepreneurs. The best chapter is on General Motors where the top men failed, whether from ignorance or complacency, to prepare for the energy crisis, even putting motor homes into production in 1973. Increasing consumer demands are also forcing changes with GM now acting reluctantly to improve standards, carry out recalls and meet federal safety and anti-pollution regulations. Bender offers some speculations on the causes of the current recession and the long-range effect of 1960's business policies which anticipated permanent and rapid growth. Some companies, like Pullman, which made the right decisions, are now prospering. Instructive--if necessarily lacking the allure of the author's 1967 survey of The Beautiful People.