KING C. GILLETTE: The Man and His Wonderful Shaving Device by

KING C. GILLETTE: The Man and His Wonderful Shaving Device

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KIRKUS REVIEW

No more honing! No more stropping! Yes, this is a book about razors: single-edge, double-edge, disposable, safety, stainless steel, and twin blade. But it also deftly evokes the spirit of adolescent America, when everyone believed in the better mousetrap and all things were possible. Lathering up for his shave one day at the turn of the century, King Camp Gillette--tinkerer, inventor, utopian, and stellar seller of bottle caps for the Crown Cork and Seal Company--conceived the idea of the disposable razor blade. The idea became an enterprise; King Gillette's face soon graced billions of blade packages; and, at last count, the Boston-based Gillette Company, preeminent purveyor of razors and blades and pens and deodorants, ranked 150th among the Fortune 500 and first in the hearts of those who remember the days when shaving was a minor form of bloodletting. Russell Adams (The Boston Money Tree, 1977) follows this capitalist odyssey competently, highlighting the drama of turbulent board meetings, big-stakes patent infringement suits, and technological breakthroughs. He has a sense of humor (William Nickerson, a Gillette executive, perhaps realized ""that his own name would be an unfortunate one for a razor manufacturer. . .""). And Adams' treatment of such thorny issues as the Gillette Company's exploitation of World War I to capture the military market is balanced and reasonable, neither a diatribe nor a whitewash. He dulls the edge of his narrative a bit with some tedious ledger-sheet details--we do not need to know every fluctuation in Gillette stock, for example--but all in all this is a clear-eyed corporate history of a firm whose products are mainstays of Americana (who can forget ""Which twin has the Toni""?) and a first-rate evocation of America's salad days.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1978
Publisher: Little, Brown