DAVID SARNOFF by Eugene Lyons


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To the administrative genius of the largest electronic complex in the world--an unabashed, unmodified paean that comes off rather like an overlong lead piece in Fortune. Eugene Lyons chronicles his cousin David Sarnoff from the time of his birth in Minsk through his present 75th year, still very much at the helm of RCA. Sarnoff, in the tradition, came over young and penniless with his family, settled in New York's Hell's Kitchen. By the time he was twelve, he was supporting his family as a rather ingenious newsboy who had developed his own delivery syndicate. In 1912, the young Sarnoff, listening to his wireless, picked up the news of the sinking S.S. Titanic 1400 miles away. It was he who relayed the fate of the ship to the entire nation. ""The Titanic disaster,"" he said later, ""brought radio to the front, and incidentally me."" By 1921, he was a thirty year old general manager of the Radio Corporation, predicting, engineering almost every new development in electronics from that time on. Peripherally he married the ""lovely Lizette,"" who bore him three ""lively sons."" The book dismisses the family at this point and devotes itself almost entirely to the consanguine development of RCA and David Sarnoff. And once the money-making motive is jettisoned, Sarnoff is relegated to the category of saint-mogul, vindicated of all charges as an arrogant man, a cold man, an incomplete man, a monopolist, even a nepotist. Sarnoff, depending on how close one reads, will come off either more or less than human. No matter. The history of electronics is well detailed.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1965
Publisher: Harper & Row