THE ALEXANDER COMPLEX: The Dreams That Drive the Great Businessmen by Michael Meyer

THE ALEXANDER COMPLEX: The Dreams That Drive the Great Businessmen

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Impressionistic profiles that, against the odds, offer flesh insights on the accomplishments of a half dozen of America's best-known businessmen. Newsweek correspondent Meyer seized on Alexander the Great as an archetype of passionate intensity. Those the author singles out as latter-day counterparts--Steven Jobs, Daniel Ludwig, Ross Perot, James Rouse, Robert Swanson, and Ted Turner--are by no means conquering heroes. Arguably, however, all have felt impelled to change the world in some substantive way; without being the least bit alike, moreover, they share any number of character traits and beliefs. Meyer uses (but does not overdo) Alexandrian parallels to shed light on the empire-building careers of his driven captains of industry. By way of example, he portrays Genentech founder Swanson and shopping-mall developer Rouse (""the undisputed godfather of urban revitalization in America"") as decidedly less flamboyant than, say, computer visionary Jobs or cablecasting pioneer Turner, albeit just as steel-willed in pursuit of their socioeconomic objectives. At the same time, Turner is sincerely intent on saving the planet with his Better World Society, while Jobs promises ""to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn."" As the author makes clear, however, not all constituencies are equally receptive to the prospect of deliverance, let alone transforming change. To illustrate, Perot (a free-lance do-gooder since his celebrated run-in with GM's hierarchy gave him more leisure) took a beating when he recommended deemphasizing high-school football as a means of improving the quality of secondary education in Texas. On a somewhat larger scale, natural forces dealt the stubborn Ludwig a costly setback when he sought to develop a Connecticut-sized property in the jungles of Brazil. Excellent reportage, informed by a genuinely subtle intelligence that can grasp and convey complex connections.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1989
Publisher: Times Books