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Publisher's Summary

Through perseverance, solid ingenuity, and unwavering determination, family-run companies - dynasties - have dominated wealth and business throughout the last two centuries. One third of Fortune 500 firms are family owned and, in most cases, the ideal of the family business is one synonymous with continuity, watchful leadership, and dedication to success. But what happens when bad behavior, extravagance, and laziness, all very real enemies of industry, are allowed to proliferate?

In Dynasties, best-selling author and historian David S. Landes scrutinizes the powerful family businesses that rule both the financial and industrial sectors across Europe, Japan, and America to determine what factors can cause a dynasty to flourish or fail. Focusing on three areas - banking, automobiles, and raw materials - his cast of characters speaks to the power of the family enterprise. The Fords, Rothschilds, Morgans, Guggenheims, Rockefellers, and Toyodas (who founded Toyota) are but a few families whose histories contain all the drama and passion to be expected when vast wealth, power, and kinship intersect. Drawing on his immense knowledge of economic history, Landes offers a new reading of the dynastic business plan of the 19th and 20th centuries, with surprising recommendations for the 21st.

©2006 David S. Landes; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Landes tells us, 'These tales trace the tangled histories of legendary lineages....We can learn a great deal about business from these dynasties; moreover, these are extraordinary men and women, full of eccentricities and genius, and they provide a wealth of entertaining tales.' Indeed. This is an excellent book." (Booklist)

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  • Story

I couldn't take it anymore

What would have made Dynasties better?

I am very interested in business biographies, and I am a huge fan of the TV series "The Men Who Built America." (If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend that you treat yourself to the 4-part series. It is extremely interesting, and very well-done)<br/><br/>So I purchased this book with high hopes and great anticipation. I couldn't wait to dive in and start listening. After enduring a very slow and rambling first chapter, I was a bit turned off but wanted to give it a fair shake. <br/><br/>So I started listening to chapter 2 with renewed hope. My hopes were quickly dashed and the book got even WORSE than it was in chapter 1. This was quite a feat because I was certain the book had no place to go but up.<br/><br/>The author rambles all over the place and simply states some facts and his long-winded opinion. The book reads like a college thesis and has very little character or personality. What makes matters even worse is the book is strewn with the author's opinions that come out of left field.<br/><br/>Halfway through chapter 2 I finally resorted to listening to the first 15 minutes of a chapter and if it didn't hook me then I moved onto the next chapter. I figured at least ONE of the chapters had to be well-written. I was sadly mistaken and this was one of the most disappointing books I've ever read or listened to.<br/><br/>My advice is to stay FAR away from this book...it is a complete nightmare.

What could David S. Landes have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Become a true author instead of just dryly regurgitating facts. Weave a story into the facts and make it interesting to read.

What didn’t you like about Alan Sklar’s performance?

He did a decent job with what he had to work with. I can't really give an impartial opinion thought because I was so turned off by the book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Surprisingly...none. And I'm usually very generous with reviews. This is new territory for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Great Book!

Seems the best business books are the based on the trials and tribulations of businesses built long ago. Morgans, DuPonts and Rothschilds are steeped in history on how to grow a business. Compared to today's startups who have wild valuations and no profits, reading a book based on actual hard work was refreshing.

The book covers your obvious families, but also covers some not so famous. Absolutely worth the read and you can learn something too.

Most notable point for me...

The Rothschild dynasty started out in a German-Jewish ghetto living with his wife and 10 kids in a 2 bedroom walkup apartment. That, is a humble beginning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

follow the money !

I really enjoyed this book , if you like history and human drama ...well this book is for you . The book travels all around the world Bankers, Auto tycoons, mostly are featured in the book.see how the human condition is always the same ....follow the money & watch the fur fly !

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Family Bios at 40,000 feet; brief generalizations

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Can't think of anyone who cares for tidbits of bios

What was most disappointing about David S. Landes’s story?

Not enough bio information on the subjects

What three words best describe Alan Sklar’s voice?

Easy listening

What character would you cut from Dynasties?

Rothschilds

  • Overall

Dry

I didn't finish this book but it seemed like a lot of detail with no real direction.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful