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Profiles in Folly: History's Worst Decisions and Why They Went Wrong | [Alan Axelrod]

Profiles in Folly: History's Worst Decisions and Why They Went Wrong

Although Axelrod investigates some dumb decisions by stupid people and some evil decisions by evil people, the overwhelming majority of these decisions were made by good, smart people whose poor judgment produced disastrous, often irreversible results. The 35 compelling and often poignant stories range from ancient times to today.
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Publisher's Summary

Using the same engrossing anecdotal format that has proved so popular in Profiles in Audacity, Alan Axelrod now turns to the dark side of audacious decision-making: those choices that, in retrospect, were shockingly wrongheaded.

Although Axelrod investigates some dumb decisions by stupid people and some evil decisions by evil people, the overwhelming majority of these decisions were made by good, smart people whose poor judgment produced disastrous, often irreversible results.

The 35 compelling and often poignant stories, which range from ancient times to today, include: The Trojan Horse; the Children’s Crusade; the sailing of the Titanic, and the false belief that it just couldn’t sink; Edward Bernays’s 1929 campaign to recruit women smokers; Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazis; Ken Lay’s deception with Enron; and even the choice to create a “New Coke” and fix what wasn’t broke. As with Profiles in Audacity, the deftly drawn vignettes will pique interest, satisfy curiosity, give pleasure, and present valuable lessons. And in addition to offering the same insightful analysis of the decision-making process, Folly also includes objective post-mortems that explain what went wrong and why. These are cautionary tales - albeit with exquisite twists ranging from acerbic to horrific.

©2008 Alan Axelrod (P)2010 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"Prolific author Axelrod has an engaging writing style and a good eye for telling incidents, making his 35 "cautionary tales" of bad decisions (and their deciders) illuminating and interesting." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (19 )
5 star
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3.5 (10 )
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3.2 (12 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Joseph New Brunswick, NJ, United States 05-11-11
    Joseph New Brunswick, NJ, United States 05-11-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    6
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "Worthless"

    This book is so bad that I think it should never have been offered for sale by audible if there is anyone in charge of creating its inventory. Unbelievably bad writing, the most simplistic of summaries and no analytical skills or insight apparent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Belleville, MI, United States 05-07-11
    Gary Belleville, MI, United States 05-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "Disappointing..tainted by author's political views"

    I thought this would be an objective historical view of history's mistakes. The first half of the book is mostly that, which is why I gave it two stars. Unfortunately, in the second half, the author tempers his explanations of mistakes based on his rather liberal political viewpoint. He compares Vietnams 58,000 U.S. troop deaths, to the Iraq war's less than one twentieth fatal casualties. George Bush is the worse president ever, so says the author. Really? Worse than Jimmy Carter? LBJ? Again, if I knew half the book would be slanted with leftist hyperbole, I would have not wasted a credit.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Atlanta, GA, United States 03-03-14
    Douglas Atlanta, GA, United States 03-03-14 Member Since 2011

    I like to read but listening is better.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    25
    25
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    "Entertaining if not Engrossing"

    This is the sort of book that you can read over the course of two days or a year. You can put it down and pick it up a few weeks later because its made up of different short histories. The author doesn't go very deep into any specific story, so if you're already well acquainted with some of the stories you won't get much out of them. It's likely that you will still enjoy it however. In book form I'm sure this would be a good "bathroom book" and I mean that in a nice way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana Wales, WI, United States 02-04-14
    Diana Wales, WI, United States 02-04-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No, not really. Each chapter opening creates expectation which is never really fulfilled. The examples discussed could all be categorized as something other than "Folly".


    What three words best describe Scott Peterson’s voice?

    Average, sometimes breathless.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-4 of 4 results
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  • A User
    10/8/11
    Overall
    "Read by Computor"

    The book has so much potential. Good information given on each chapter as to the history of each decision. But and it is a big but the Narrator. I have heard better computer generated voices, this is really hard to get into because of the voice. I found it hard to stay interested and even got lost on some of the chapter changes. Sorry I presonally would not recomend

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Ollie
    Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wide selection of events"
    Any additional comments?

    I've not counted how many events this book covers, but it is a lot. From the Challanger Launch decision, to the cigarette marketing strategy that resulted in women taking up smoking.

    The only thing that lets the book down, is the really obscure historical events. They are well researched and presented, but by the end i felt a book of this type needed to remain reliability modern for it to be entertaining. But maybe this is more of an academic than an entertainment book, but either way it is really enjoyable...you just might end up skipping through some parts of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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