Good reading for budding businesspeople.



The founder of Ameritrade delivers a blend of memoir and entrepreneurial manifesto.

While he never quite slips into Ayn Rand territory, Ricketts, who founded Ameritrade as a vehicle for simplifying stock trading for a mass audience, strikes the pose of businessperson as hero and artist: “Business was an act of creativity and courage. Other people didn’t seem to see it this way, but to me, business was where life came alive.” For all that, it was a slog for him at first. The author recounts starting out as a credit reporter in the 1960s, taking his father’s advice that exposure to a variety of businesses would be useful to him in his career, whether a hamburger franchise or a wholesale furniture warehouse. Connecting the lessons he had learned in economics classes with the real world, he became a broker in an era when the Dow was about to break 1,000 and, “for the first time since the stock market crash of 1929, large numbers of individual investors had jumped into the market,” fueling the rise of the newfangled mutual fund. His breakthrough came a decade later, when he figured out how to trim costs by inducing customers to come to him, eliminating the need for commissioned reps, and otherwise “disintermediating” to offer trades at $25 a pop. Bingo: The phone started ringing from customers “who didn’t want advice, just a better deal.” However, as Ricketts recounts, technical challenges were constant companions, from computers that would backfire with static electricity to the need for equipment that could keep up with the speed of real-time trading in the days before the quants and algorithms took over. Securities and Exchange Commission challenges, fraud, troubles with risk-averse partners, and other bugs posed problems as well. Ricketts fights them off page after page, all while extolling the need for nonconformity in the quest for getting “some happiness and satisfaction out of doing something new."

Good reading for budding businesspeople.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6478-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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