Henry Ford

Most great figures in American history reveal great contradictions, and Henry Ford is no exception. He championed his workers, offering unprecedented wages, yet crushed their attempts to organize. Virulently anti-Semitic, he never employed fewer than 3,000 Jews. An outspoken pacifist, he made millions producing war materials. He urbanized the modern world, and then tried to drag it back into a romanticized rural past he’d helped … [ Read more ]

Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob

Today, consumer credit, employee stock options, and citizen investment in the stock market are taken for granted–fundamental facts of American economic life. But few people realize that they were first widely promoted by John Jakob Raskob (1879-1950), the innovative financier and self-made businessman who built the Empire State building, made millions for DuPont and General Motors, and helped shape the contours of modern capitalism.

David Farber’s … [ Read more ]

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

When he died, Vanderbilt was probably the richest man in the U.S., with a fortune that represented US$1 out of every $20 in circulation in the country, including cash and demand deposits (to put that in perspective, Bill Gates’s wealth in 2008 represented $1 out of every $138). But Stiles has much more in mind in this weighty tome than simply documenting the rise of … [ Read more ]

Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

The latest from Renehan, author most recently of a much-praised biography of another titan of 19th-century business, Jay Gould, is a thorough look at Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877), who rose from nothing to amass one of the great fortunes in American history (more than $158 billion in 2005 dollars) in the burgeoning steamship and railroad industries. A brilliant, vicious businessman with little education, manners or patience … [ Read more ]

Myself and Other More Important Matters

Management guru Handy quotes Voltaire, How infinitesimal is the importance of anything I do, but how infinitely important it is that I do it. That combination of modesty and determination underlies this autobiography from title to final page. Born in 1932, raised in Ireland and educated at Oxford, Handy disappointed his family by entering trade for Shell Oil in Asia. Returning to London, he embarked … [ Read more ]

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

In this startlingly frank account of Buffett’s life, Schroeder, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley—and hand picked by Buffett to be his biographer—strips away the mystery that has long cloaked the word’s richest man to reveal a life and fortune erected around lucid and inspired business vision and unimaginable personal complexity. In a book that is dominated by unstinting descriptions of Buffett’s appetites—for profit, … [ Read more ]

Andrew Carnegie

In the pantheon of the industrial giants who dominated late-nineteenth-century American capitalism, Andrew Carnegie has consistently stood out as the most fascinating and enigmatic character. Celebrated as the creator of the modern steel industry, he earned equal renown for the disbursement of his vast fortune to numerous philanthropic causes. As opposed to the cold, austere image of a Rockefeller, Carnegie seemed to radiate genuine warmth … [ Read more ]

Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction

In this biography, Pulitzer Prize winner McCraw neatly divides his emphasis between Schumpeter’s professional and personal life. He portrays his subject as a somewhat self-absorbed insatiable scholar not entirely comfortable with his contemporaries, which might explain marriages and affairs with much older and younger women, as well as his affinity with students and often-strained relations with colleagues of his own generation. McGraw lucidly addresses Schumpeter’s … [ Read more ]

Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built

Business historian Tedlow (Harvard Business Sch.) presents seven magnates in a historical context that reflects the growth of the United States as an economic power from the mid-1800s to the latter part of the 20th century. Presenting biographical essays divided chronologically into three sections, he first discusses Andrew Carnegie (U.S. Steel), George Eastman (Kodak), and Henry Ford (automobiles) and their contributions to the emergence of … [ Read more ]

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell … [ Read more ]

Nobodies to Somebodies: How 100 Great Careers Got Their Start

Peter Han cofounded a software company soon after college and sold it a few years later. By any measure he was already successful, but he still was curious about how others found long-term meaning in their work. So he set out to learn what a diverse group of influential “somebodies” had done back when they were still “nobodies.”

Nobodies to Somebodies is based on Han’s interviews … [ Read more ]

The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus

Management theory is a worldwide growth industry these days. Terrified of falling behind, business executives flock from one management guru to another in search of a competitive edge. Catchwords such as “chaos,” “excellence,” and “quality” echo in corporate halls and bounce around boardrooms the world over. Which ideas and theories are sound, and which are ultimately useless fads? John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge spent two … [ Read more ]

Alexander Hamilton

Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Press, 2004) is the historical biography that business executives should turn to if they wish to learn what leadership is really about. Unique among the historians who write about politics in early America, Chernow has a profound knowledge of management and finance, and this fine book offers business readers a detailed analysis of how a “numbers man” with the greatest … [ Read more ]

Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace

First published in Brazil in 1988 as Turning the Tables , this book was the all-time best-selling nonfiction book in Brazil’s history. Semler, the 34-year-old CEO, or “counselor,” of Semco, a Brazilian manufacturing firm, describes how he turned his successful company into a “natural business” in which employees hire and evaluate their bosses, dress however they want, participate in major decisions, and share in 22 … [ Read more ]

Lasting Leadership: What You Can Learn from the Top 25 Business People of our Times

In this book, two of the world’s most respected sources of business insight come together to select and profile the 25 most influential businesspeople of the past quarter century. These incisive profiles teach specific lessons you can use to discover, refine, and nurture your own leadership style… achieve breakthrough results… and accelerate your career progress.

The team: Nightly Business Report, the United States’ #1 daily TV … [ Read more ]

Adventures of a Bystander

Regarded as the most influential and widely read thinker on modern organizations and their management, Peter Drucker has also established himself as an unorthodox and independent analyst of politics, the economy, and society. A man of impressive scope and expertise, he has paved significant inroads in a number of key areas, sharing his knowledge and keen insight on everything from the plight of the employee … [ Read more ]

Best Practice: Ideas and Insights from the Worlds Foremost Business Thinkers

Lining up a roster of “the world’s foremost business thinkers” is of course just asking to be accused of a wee bit of subjectivity. The world is a big place. But this collection is a good effort to pull together short, readable essays by some eighty of the better-known English-language consultants, writers, and academics. (Harvard Business School is represented by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who wrote … [ Read more ]

Peter Drucker : Shaping the Managerial Mind-How the World’s Foremost Management Thinker Crafted the Essentials of Business Su

Ask any CEO and/or business professor to name the “father of modern management,” and the answer will probably be Peter Drucker. Flaherty (Peter Drucker: Contributions to Business Enterprise) focuses on Drucker’s management principles; his intent is not to update his earlier work but instead to present Drucker’s influence on the shaping of modern management. Flaherty’s 40-year friendship with Drucker proves invaluable to readers interested in … [ Read more ]

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change

Gerstner quarterbacked one of history’s most dramatic corporate turnarounds. For those who follow business stories like football games, his tale of the rise, fall and rise of IBM might be the ultimate slow-motion replay. He became IBM’s CEO in 1993, when the gargantuan company was near collapse. The book’s opening section snappily reports Gerstner’s decisions in his first 18 months on the job-the critical “sprint” … [ Read more ]