Tony Hsieh is a very smart and very rich man. As an occasional customer of Zappos, I decided to read his book. His focus on quality and building a corporate culture made sense, but in the end I was left with three puzzles:
• His writing is extremely opaque. Any people he mentions are like cardboard figures – father, mother, partner – he never tells anything personal about any person. Once in the book he mentions “my significant other” but nothing who that person might be and what they are like. Seems friendly but tells you nothing
• In describing the sale of Zappos to Amazon he says that announcing a 40% bonus to employees let to a mass celebration by people who would now be able to take their kids to Disneyland or afford a medical procedure. Hello, Mr Benefactor of Humanity and the carrier of happiness – what about health insurance and pay levels? People who work for you have to wait for a once-in-a-decade bonus to afford medical care?
• The bonus chapter in the audiobook contained a long interview. While advertised as spontaneous, major chunks of it were word-for-word repeats of the book, creating an impression that the author has a script that he keeps repeating as he crafts his public image.
Something in that whole story did not fit. While I do not regret having read this book, I’m left puzzled…
This book can be easily reduced to two good essays: "The origin and the future of the Earth" and "A search for planets around stars." Tht's what I took away from this book - but only after listening to endless flourishes, personal profiles of various scientists, etc, etc... This book has substance, but is way too long and unpruned,
The author’s advice on marketing makes sense, but I found his audiobook a stressful listen, as his endless stories, spelled out in a host petty details really distracted from the message. It would have benefited from a much tighter re-write.
Listening to this audiobook is like going to a gym for language - the author not only tells a fascinating story of language development but also sets a model of writing that is both muscular and refined - English at its best!
The author gets off to a strong start, describing challenges of space travel for humans but quickly runs out of gas and rambles, rambles, rambles. She has a preocculation with bodily functions - yes, defecating in weightlessness is a challenge, but how many chapters can one carp on this topic. Do I really need to know that the author has no body odor - how relevant is that to space travel? This book just spins and spins, like an untethered austronaut.
As a long-time reader of The New Yorker, I ordered this book but found it oddly bloodless, even the lengthy chapter on the loss of the cherry. The author is very intelligent and a great connoisseur of literature, but after three chapters i began t skip, and then deleted this ebook from my ipod.
Having grown up surrounded by many poor people and having worked with many of them early in my career, i picked up this book after seeing it recommended by The Economist. After the first few chapters I began skipping forward. I mean this book would be good for someone professionally interested in poverty, but for a regular listener - I kept thinking this would have made a great article in The Wall Street Journal, but do I really need all those details of all those different studies...
I am a life-long Hemingway fan, but this author, in the words of an earlier reviewer, 'manages to make Hemingway boring.' Descibes every meaningless detail of any person who ran into Hemingway - that's irrelevant... e-n-d-l-e-s-s ... soooooo long
After reading this author’s 1491 – a book on pre-Columbian America – I downloaded an unabridged audio of this volume. Again – a fascinating story of the world becoming intertwined, with people, plants and germs moving from one continent to another, with massive consequences for everyone involved and their descendants. Again – an utter lack of author’s self-control as he goes off on one tangent after another. Some of those digressions are quite interesting, for the example a long one on the Irish potato famine, but hey! – it was over 300 years after Columbus. Your book is not called ‘interesting stories I’ve heard that pop into my mind.’
To me, a great example of a book of this genre is The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding. Robert Hughes moved his story forward at a good clip, with multiple vignettes quickly returning to the main channel. He pulled it off beautifully, while this author did not. I still recommend his book, just do not get it on audio because with a regular book it is easier to skip its huge number of irrelevant bits.
The author is a fantastic salesman of his own company, but listening to this audiobook soon begins to feel like running into a supercharged salesman at a department store. After he sells you a shirt, a suit and a tie he does not stop – talking, talking, talking, selling, selling, selling. The contents of the book is quite thin. The author mentions a study of a statistically insignificant number of companies – never tell you any details, but tries to make it sound like he has the secret of success. Right! His reading, engaging at first, quickly becomes tiresome, loud, and annoying. Grades: salesmanship A+, contents C-, style D.
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