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Publisher's Summary

An explosive exposé of Samsung that "reads like a dynastic thriller, rolling through three generations of family intrigue, embezzlement, bribery, corruption, prostitution, and other bad behavior" (The Wall Street Journal).

Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

Based on years of reporting on Samsung for The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and Time, from his base in South Korea, and his countless sources inside and outside the company, Geoffrey Cain offers a penetrating look behind the curtains of the biggest company nobody in America knows. Seen for decades in tech circles as a fast follower rather than an innovation leader, Samsung today has grown to become a market leader in the United States and around the globe. They have captured one quarter of the smartphone market and have been pushing the envelope on every front. 

Forty years ago, Samsung was a rickety Korean agricultural conglomerate that produced sugar, paper, and fertilizer, located in a backward country with a third-world economy. With the rise of the PC revolution, though, Chairman Lee Byung-chul began a bold experiment: to make Samsung a major supplier of computer chips. The multimillion-dollar plan was incredibly risky. But Lee, wowed by a young Steve Jobs, who sat down with the chairman to offer his advice, became obsessed with creating a tech empire. And in Samsung Rising, we follow Samsung behind the scenes as the company fights its way to the top of tech. It is one of Apple’s chief suppliers of technology critical to the iPhone, and its own Galaxy phone outsells the iPhone.    

Today, Samsung employs over 300,000 people (compared to Apple’s 80,000 and Google’s 48,000). The company’s revenues have grown more than 40 times from that of 1987 and make up more than 20 percent of South Korea’s exports. Yet their disastrous recall of the Galaxy Note 7, with numerous reports of phones spontaneously bursting into flames, reveals the dangers of the company’s headlong attempt to overtake Apple at any cost. 

A sweeping insider account, Samsung Rising shows how a determined and fearless Asian competitor has become a force to be reckoned with. 

©2020 Geoffrey Cain (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"With Samsung Rising, Geoffrey Cain shines an incisive and entertaining light into the secretive world of the South Korean technology giant, whose ambitions and idiosyncrasies are shaping our digital lives in ways we probably can't imagine." (Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store and The Upstarts)

"Reads like a thriller, whipping us through the dramatic story of the world's largest technology company." (Daniel Tudor, author of Korea: The Impossible Country)  

"An extraordinary work of narrative business reportage.... With the flair of a novelist, Geoffrey Cain tells the story of Samsung’s meteoric rise." (Robert S. Boynton, author of The New New Journalism and The Invitation-Only Zone)

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What listeners say about Samsung Rising

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Realistic, insighting, intriguing

as a current employee with first-hand experience, not only did I learn a lot from this book but also validated much of the watercooler conversations that took place within the company during the unraveling of many of the events that took place between 2013 thru publication of this book.

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very informative and engaging

I really liked this book. The narrator was great and the topic is incredibly interesting. I appreciated the brief history lesson of S. Korean business.

1 person found this helpful

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Asian business culture contextualized

Geoff is one of my oldest friends and mentors. I read the book proposal 4 (or maybe 5?) years ago and my first reaction was: “I want to read this book. Now.” Even though I grew up in Vietnam and not South Korea, Samsung was visible in many aspects of my adolescence, yet I somehow knew very little about the company’s history and culture.

I can’t think of a better person to write this book than Geoff. For almost a decade, I saw how hard Geoff worked. He uncovered many of Samsung’s secrets, wove them into a suspenseful story, and distilled the story into business lessons.

There are many subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the way Asian people do business that not many westerners appreciate. I’m tired of having to explain to people our complex relationship with nepotism, bribery, authority. Geoff not only understands them -- he was able to contextualize them with insightful and often humorous observations. There are moments, including dad puns like “Seoul searching”, that make me chuckle.

My only complaint is that I wish I had seen more of Geoff in the book. He’s so much fun to be around, but the book seems a bit formal, but maybe all business books are supposed to be formal.

I’d recommend the book if you’re interested in learning more about one of the largest corporations in the world that nobody talks about, Asian business culture, technology, or if you’re just bored quarantining at home looking for a good read.

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Great Book

Having personally witnessed a fair amount of this I found the book enlightening, riveting and a powerful tale of how much impact culture and family can have on one of the largest corporations in the world. And how history has a peculiar knack of repeating itself over and over and over again. Some lessons are never learned.

1 person found this helpful

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Misleading title

I thought I would learn about what led to success of Samsung. This book unfortunately talks more about what is wrong and strange with the company and attributes the success to mostly brilliant marketing. This is a story that is only showing one facet of the success that is Samsung. Sure they may have hired the right people and did a successful marketing campaign. However the success of Samsung is also a story of a technological edge that other companies did not have. This book does not talk about that much. This is understandable as the author did not get the cooperation of Samsung to write this book and did not interview the people that developed the technology. The story left me feeling that it is grossly incomplete - right down to the ending where the part where JY Lee’s appeal is still not settled.

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Very dull story

Not memorable, not entertaining, and certainly not "explosive".

I expected to love the book and I didn't even like it a little.

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Intriguing Story on Republic of Samsung

I enjoyed listening to this book. The narrator is easy to listen to. The author has written a fascinating storyline with lots of details and back stories.... On the rise of Samsung from a small shop to a global powerhouse and brand. On the political and economic ties between Samsung and the Korean government. On its journey to become and maintain global leadership in semiconductor, memory, LCD, and smartphones. About the founder and his children, who became heirs to the company.

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Thorough if slightly negative gotcha!

I liked his thoroughness yet w all the cheating going on with the majority of Smartphone oems, esp. Huawei there should be some balance. Yet, it is about Samsung and there it is, to take it or leave it.

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Unorganized

There are too many characters and the story hops around, I found myself zoning out after awhile.

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Vague book

The author skips or doesn't know basic information. He was selling fruits, then he bought a beer brewery that he later sold for a small fortune. There's a lot of info missing in a sentence like that. Then he was running a large family holding. How?.... If you want to learn the business strategy, this is not your book. For a business man, bad book. As a novel, there are better ones out there.