A lucidly argued, if less than original, account of the moral implications of commerce.




A brief but wide-ranging book of thoughts on the nature of business.

In 1993, author Veblen (The Way of Business, 2011) assembled a group of businessmen—The Superior Business Firm Roundtable—to collaboratively unpack the essence of business itself. They were initially unable to arrive at a neat consensus, but they continued to gather to discuss the constituent principles of commerce, and this book synoptically catalogs these discussions. Veblen defines business as the creation of wealth, and in this work, he supplies a surfeit of sensible advice regarding its proper pursuit. How to construct a winning idea, the significance of innovation and the adoption of a global perspective, and the basic principles of leadership are just a few of the topics that he considers. However, although the book largely approaches the nature of business from a practical rather than theoretical perspective, it manages to be both philosophically broad and morally ambitious. For example, Veblen considers commerce to be a messily human affair, resistant to any sort of facile distillation, and therefore only comprehensible via its social and cultural context. This leads to a consideration of business as a political phenomenon, and an examination of the relationship between wealth production, a commercial society, and a healthy and enlightened democracy. He also draws a connection between wealth creation and the service of a higher good, which, he asserts, is conducive to both profitability and the betterment of society. The study is filled with concrete case studies, ranging from the overall U.S. food system to the McDonald’s restaurant chain, that helpfully illustrate its worldview. Despite navigating some muddy theoretical waters, Veblen’s prose never devolves into prohibitively technical jargon or conceptual abstraction. This is, first and foremost, a practical guidebook for the active or aspiring entrepreneur, but it’s also written for a broad audience that includes both veterans and novices. The author’s purview is remarkably panoramic, and he consistently attempts to articulate the moral and social power of business, and the responsibilities that such power entails: “The superior practitioner,” he says, prizes “integrity and knowledge over power and fame, reality over idealism, wealth creation and its management over profit-making, and entrepreneurship and open dealing over tradition and secrecy.” His book is as much a manifesto as it is an instructional manual—a kind of clarion call to a more moral outlook. However, it never treats truly difficult questions—such as how, precisely, to square the race to wealth with an ethical chastening of avarice—rigorously enough to fully persuade the unconvinced. Also, much of the counsel here, while perfectly reasonable, is also timeworn and familiar, as when Veblen encourages the reader to keep his or her promises, extols the virtue of persistence, and implores businesspeople “to make things work right.” The principal value of this work is to provocatively assess business in a larger frame and to possibly generate a deeper conversation about the advantages that it bestows upon the world.

A lucidly argued, if less than original, account of the moral implications of commerce.

Pub Date: May 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5451-8386-1

Page Count: 220

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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