In a straightforward autobiography, Hirschorn recalls his journey from a childhood in 1930s Berlin to building a multinational corporation that helped make the world a less noisy place.
Born in Berlin in 1921 to a working class Jewish family, even as a child Hirschorn helped his parents at their respective jobs. Things changed when the Nazis came to power. By 1937, his parents had sent him to the relative safety of school in England. As World War II raged, the author managed to earn an engineering degree. In 1947, he joined his aunt in America and found some fame in engineering circles through a paper on designing an equipment silencer. He used this as a springboard to start his company, Industrial Acoustics Company, out of his aunt’s fourth-floor walk-up–he quickly found a need for his specific brand of expertise in postwar America. The author’s story is the quintessential immigrant’s tale–he arrived in America with nothing and turned himself into a captain of industry. Yet so much time is spent on the nitty-gritty of engineering and not enough on how Hirschorn became the man with a knack for silencing cacophony. The most thrilling part of the book should have been Hirschorn’s formative years in Nazi Germany and WWII England, but the writing is excessively matter-of-fact, robbing it of excitement. Even the excerpts from his actual journals, written when he was a young man, are somewhat sedate. However, the 70-year-old Hirschorn’s commentary on his younger self is intriguing. While the book can be impassive, the breadth of the author’s experience and knowledge is impressive.
A rags to riches story which would benefit from more heart and less science.