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NAZI BILLIONAIRES

THE DARK HISTORY OF GERMANY’S WEALTHIEST DYNASTIES

A sturdy account of the financial side of Nazi evil that resonates today.

An unflattering investigative history of German big business over the past century.

Financial journalist de Jong reminds us that many of today’s superwealthy Germans are heirs of entrepreneurs whose companies prospered under the Third Reich through use of slave labor and seizure of companies. This is old news, but de Jong explores how all walked free after the war and their heirs do little to acknowledge their ancestors’ crimes. Few entrepreneurs paid attention to Hitler until he grew powerful after 1930. Some became ardent Nazis, but most approved of his hatred of socialism, worker activism, and democracy. Once Hitler began rearming, they scrambled for contracts, which involved currying favor with Nazi leaders. An enormous source of profit was Jewish businesses, often acquired for a pittance. Readers searching for an industrialist who disapproved will come up empty. As de Jong shows, nearly everyone approved of the methods of the business community. Orders increased, and a flood of slave laborers from the conquered countries poured into the factories. Though most “employees” were treated horribly, few employers objected. During the final year of the war, companies continued to sell their products and overwork their laborers even as the Allies overran Germany. Then they made themselves scarce. Their activities were no secret to Allied intelligence, but the first Nuremberg trial involved major political figures rather than business owners. Later, the trials of businessmen received little publicity and largely flopped, handing out a few short prison sentences and fines. It’s to de Jong’s credit that he brings many of these events back into the historical spotlight. The defendants mostly kept their businesses, handing them on to heirs, who were not inclined to discuss the wartime years. As decades passed, a good deal of dirt turned up, persuading some to apologize and make modest gestures of restitution, but others stonewalled. The author recounts perhaps more details on German business dealings than American readers may seek, but there is enough chicanery to maintain interest.

A sturdy account of the financial side of Nazi evil that resonates today.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-328-49788-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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