Epistolary novels are rare enough, but epistolary non-fiction (with the exception of General X's or actress Y's collected letters) is even scarcer. After this pompous, platitudinous book hits the stands, the form may die out forever. Following two major operations in four years, Ward determined to pass on to his kids his accumulated wisdom about how to run a business. He takes this task seriously, opening his text with a quote from Shakespeare on the acquisition of greatness. From there, it's all downhill. Here are some samples of Ward's advice: ""Dare to dream--dare to try--dare to fail--dare to succeed""; ""Challenge is a part of life""; ""Every failure teaches one something."" None of this is objectionable--just obvious and dull. Other advice is less innocuous. For instance, Ward warns his son against taking a leave from college to see the world. His reason? Enough to make a pedagogue's head spin: ""Most of the students contemplating such excursions are just too lazy to study any more."" Along with this curmudgeonly advice, Ward gives suggestions on how to deal with employees, partnerships, marriage, friends (""Inevitably,"" intones this millionaire owner of seven businesses, ""you will drop the friends who ask you for loans""). It's not all this bad: Ward obviously loves business, and his enthusiasm shines through. And he has sound things to say about the virtues of politeness, relaxation, proper diet, and other quotidian concerns--advice that can be obtained more painlessly, however, in any decent self-help manual. Since the author asks us in his title to Mark My Words, we will: D+.