A capsule tour of the variety of inspiration and efforts that mark American entrepreneurial history. The author has assembled a cast of 25 American business leaders who have defined and thrived in various historical eras, beginning just after the Revolutionary War and running to the present. Brands’s (History/Texas A&M Univ.; The Reckless Decade, 1995, etc.) 25 pivotal figures range from classic captains of industry, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie, to media mavens Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey. Few, if any, of the entries will be strangers to most readers, nor are any of their histories told here for the first time. The achievement of this collection and the retelling of the businesses generated is to show the themes of success shared by all the parties, subtly stressed throughout and summed up in a short, final chapter. Simply put, they were: “good health and abundant energy”; “they were hungry”; “intense gratification with his or her work”; “ability to persuade others”; and “creative vision.” Covering this much ground, chronologies are necessarily shortened and condensed; however, they are typically penned with style, as in a description of Ted Turner’s jump-start in business after his father committed suicide, riddled with doubts after having just expanded his business. Turner, Brands tells us, “held on to the expanded Turner Advertising of his father’s hopes rather than the diminished company of his father’s fears.” The freshness of the narrative is well suited to the positive message imparted by the contents. It serves as an invigorating justification of the business of business but will also perform well as an introduction to the pioneers of major industries and the nature of their contributions.

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-85473-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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