From Wall Street to Main Street, John Brooks, longtime contributor to the New Yorker, brings to life in vivid fashion 12 classic and timeless tales of corporate and financial life in America
What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.
Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance. John Brooks’ insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history repeats itself.
Five additional stories on equally fascinating subjects round out this wonderful collection that will both entertain and inform listeners... Business Adventures is truly financial journalism at its liveliest and best.
©2014 John Brooks (P)2014 Random House Audio
This works for me. I have a broad and deep interest in business and financial history, and I'm always snagging stories from here and there and fitting the parts together into deeper understandings. Sometimes the author nails it here -- as in, giving a great plain-language explanation of central banking and international currency markets (and some wild swings, say, in the pound sterling, presaging better-known recent ones, featuring the US and UK's coordinated battles with speculators, trying to reduce volatility in those markets). I always like a different but clarifying look at such things, from a bit different angle. But, this is a snapshot from the later-mid-1960s, so (like reading some older books or watching some older movies) it helps to have some bigger background and context. The earlier stories do fit well as prequels to more recent ones. This was written on the eve of the US dollar falling off the gold standard, and the emergence of the post-Bretton Woods world (things the author only guesses at, prospectively), so having more of the story helps.
Elsewhere there is a story about price-fixing among certain manufacturers in the 60s. These scofflaws got their knuckles rapped, somewhat, under the glare of public and governmental attention. Then there ensued the corporate game (also well known among politicians) in moments of scandal, of artfully evading responsibility. We have a ringside seat as this art is practiced by various execs under the hot spotlight. What a rhetorical dance! This is a fine tutorial (all done tongue in cheek) for anyone, I suppose, looking to glide through a public grilling in congressional hearings and parading before angry righteous citizens wielding pitchforks and torches, without breaking stride or losing that elite "teflon" panache (and somehow trying to sound ethical and even noble, or as a last resort, gullible, but no, not culpable!). I find plenty amusing and enlightening here. But the choice of topics is fairly random, and it does suffer from flat spots.
Yes- I have already recommended it to my parents.
The original book was written in the 1970s. The stories are about business in that time period and earlier. There is a lot of information that is foundational to how business is conducted today but you will also see how it has evolved. The chapter on Texas Gulf was especially interesting to me because I grew up in Timmins.
I wish there would be an abridged version of this book. This was way too long compared to its actual contents. Pages after pages were wasted on describing irrelevant background where the moral of the story would turn out to be marginally significant. Waste of time in my view.
I found this book on Bill Gates favorites ever list. I guess it was recommended to him by Warren Buffet. Gates said he read it once in the 70's and again recently and thought the lessons were timeless and applicable. I'm trying to figure out exactly what he saw....😝
The book is subtly humorous as the narrator nonchalantly describes harrowing tales of business failure and triumph. Business Adventures is also a eerily relevant reflection on the unpredictability of the world, and how profoundly uncontrollable the business world can be.
It's almost like reading the economist, if the economist was objective, humorous, and had a personable humanity.
I found the most rewarding adventure to be about the accidentally cornering of Piggly Wiggly - listen and enjoy.
What us rhyme silly tales of business history!
Very entertaining - contains a lot of wisdom.
This is a very interesting book. First time I heard about it was that it was recommended by Bill Gates. The book is constructed in the form of stories of different business flavors. The first few stories are not super interesting but they turn out to be essential for understanding the stories towards the end of the book, which are fantastic. Would recommend this book to anyone with a small caveat: be patient with the first couple chapters.
If I read it 20 years ago and the stories were still relevant.
Very, very boring.
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