More of an out-and-out pitch for ""the American tradition of free enterprise"" and the grandeur of giant corporations than...


THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS: Men Who Run Big Business in America

More of an out-and-out pitch for ""the American tradition of free enterprise"" and the grandeur of giant corporations than Shook's previous tales of business success (The Real Estate People, The Entrepreneurs, etc.). ""The American dream is alive and flourishing,"" we're blandly assured: witness these ten CEOs. ""Americans have the highest standard of living in the world,"" we're erroneously told (see the figures on Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, etc.): the corporations they head are ""directly responsible."" Piffle like this makes Michael Maccoby's The Leader (above) look like the wisdom of the ages--while the worshipful profiles (vita plus interview quotes) add luster to Arthur M. Louis' gimmicky but not soppy The Tycoons (p. 270). Prudential's ""relaxed and unassuming"" Bob Beck tells how, as a young insurance agent eight weeks without a sale, he went up on a hill and came down ""a new person"" (and made 17 sales on his next 20 calls); so he knows what struggling agents face. We also hear about his wife's support, his ""enthusiasm and dedication,"" his crowded schedule, his many other activities, his pride in his children. AT&T's ""private, reserved, soft-spoken"" Charlie Brown also comes on strong for enthusiasm, is also determined and dedicated and appreciative of his wife; he takes advantage, too, of what is apparently a stock Shook question on attitudes toward government regulation to plug the AT&T position on telecommunications competition. United Airlines' Richard Ferris is another beneficiary of ""broad experience,"" ""enthusiasm,"" ""a supportive wife,"" etc.--the vocabulary is as limited as the message. And none of these men, directly asked, attributes any part of his success--naturally--to internal politics (another plus for the Louis book, where some of the same individuals are appreciably more candid). One of the few who doesn't come out sounding quite like Mr. All-America is DuPont's (then) CEO Irving Shapiro--who admits, for one thing, to working (in preference to playing golf) on weekends. (In Shook's book, however, his ancestry is ""Lithuanian."") About as forthcoming, altogether, as a press release.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1981

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