This is a vivid, colorful history of a man of great importance to the advertising industry. But it's also the story of a man who was important in business in general and his legacy lives on. This is a well written book. There are some typos but in the publishing business today, that's common and sad.
This is mostly a flattering biography but the authors can be excused for that in that one of them has a personal interest in the agency of which Lasker was the head.
As a member of the advertising industry, a professional copywriter, I enjoyed the before untold stories of numerous important characters in our industry. For example, Claude Hopkins was a genius copywriter on whose shoulders I stand. He worked with and for Lasker for awhile. His writing style is still a great learning tool and one few copywriters use. But the story I remember in the book about Hopkins is that he wrote his most famous ads in minutes or days. Lasker felt the client would feel the agency didn't work hard enough on the ads so he would set on them for a few weeks. It reminds me of my late, great associate, Bill Steinhardt. He would say the same thing about my own writing. "Set on it a couple weeks. Let the client think you worked on it long, hard hours, weeks and even months," he would say. But, alas, Picasso painted some of his greatest work in minutes.
Lasker had style. He had an abundance of energy --- all his life into old age. He was indeed a great salesman. He knew how to put a deal together. And in the book, you'll learn some of his methods. He also knew his own weaknesses. So he would hire the best people and pay them good money to do a great job.
His career in advertising started before copywriting had any value. Only after he was in it awhile did he discover the monetary value of great copywriting. When he discovered it, his agency grew fast and he became a millionaire many times over. Before that time, an ad agency basically just placed ads.
I enjoyed this book very much. It's a classic in my opinion. The basic element of any business is selling. Until a sale happens, you have no business. Mastering salesmanship is so critical to a businessperson. Lasker was a master seller. As one of his great copywriters, John E. Kennedy told Lasker, "Copywriting is salesmanship in print." Lasker was not a copywriter. But he was a great salesman and his life is well worth reading about.
-- Susanna K. Hutcheson