Perceptions backed by object lessons on what it might take American business to remain competitive in world markets during the 1990's and beyond. Drawing on his own experiences as a globe-trotting consultant, Magaziner--and collaborator Patinkin (a syndicated columnist for The Providence Journal)--offer a series of well-done case studies that shed considerable light on the challenges facing US industry in its efforts to retain an ascendant position in the international economy. A crucial ingredient in their prescription for prevailing against offshore rivals in an indigenous production base built and run by executives willing as well as able to take a long-term view; other key elements include technological leadership, a skilled work force, and export muscle. While the authors stop short of advocating government assistance and guidance like that supplied by Japan's MITI, they believe a coordinating group (structured along the lines of the National Security Council) could prove effective in encouraging an organized response should American industry be falling behind in important areas. The authors recount a half dozen success stories from abroad, coming up with but three Stateside examples. Among the enterprises singled out are South Korea's Samsung (a patient purveyor of microwave ovens), the five-nation consortium comprising Airbus Industrie, Sanyo and other Japanese companies committed to photovoltaics, Corning Glass Works (an early investor in optical waveguides), and General Electric (for its $120-million wager on manufacturing energy-efficient compressors for refrigerator lines). As a practical matter, GE seems to have lost its gamble and may have to write off $350 million or more--an outcome not considered in the authors' upbeat text. Which is not to say either their account or the company's misfortune is a total loss. Running calculated risks of this sort in pursuit of commensurate rewards is now the name of the high-stakes game in a global marketplace where expedients and standing pat no longer suffice. A solid contribution to the debate that's heating up on US competitiveness.