SUCCEEDING AGAINST THE ODDS by John H. Johnson
Kirkus Star

SUCCEEDING AGAINST THE ODDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An enthralling and engaging autobiography from a world-class capitalist who happens to be black. Born 71 years ago in a Mississippi River town, the go-getting Johnson left for Chicago as an impoverished teen-ager. Once there, he finished high school, began attending college, and started work at a black-owned insurance company. On the job, Johnson gained a considerable measure of self-confidence and came up with the idea that led to a still-prospering career in magazine publishing. Borrowing $500 on his beloved mother's newly paid-for furniture, he launched Negro Digest in 1942. Building on this shoestring venture, Johnson (a millionaire at 31) went on to create a business empire encompassing Ebony, Jet, a cosmetics supplier, and the insurance company that gave him his start. Johnson's ascent was by no means effortless. He had to overcome racial barriers as well as the financial and operational problems encountered by almost anyone who aspires to run his or her own show. The enterprising Johnson (who unabashedly enjoys the things money can buy) persevered and prevailed, however, eventually earning entree into corporate America's inner circles. That rarity, an entrepreneur who can manage, Johnson pays close attention to the smallest details, noting the big things then take care of themselves, An accomplished diplomat as well as businessman, Johnson has served every US president since Eisenhower in some capacity. These commissions, plus the clout enjoyed by his flagship publications, have given the author a wealth of opportunities to meet (and appraise) the most important figures of the post-WW II era. Johnson also offers what he calls a "bifocal appreciation" of the civil-rights movement and other consequential events. While not without its sorrows, Johnson's success stoW (which he relates with notable gusto) transcends race in many respects. A winner's tale, then, and an immensely readable and inspiring one to boot. There are 16 pages of photographs (not seen).

Pub Date: May 15th, 1989
ISBN: 446-71010-5
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