Good reading for budding businesspeople.

THE HARDER YOU WORK, THE LUCKIER YOU GET

AN ENTREPRENEUR'S MEMOIR

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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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

NIGHT

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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