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This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks is an insightful and engaging look into 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 examp This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks is an insightful and engaging look into 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’s 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 really does repeat itself.


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This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks is an insightful and engaging look into 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 examp This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks is an insightful and engaging look into 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’s 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 really does repeat itself.

30 review for Business Adventures

  1. 4 out of 5

    H.E. Roulo

    I had heard, as I think everyone else has, that Business Adventures was a favorite book of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I read the ebook, and I understand a print version will be forthcoming in September. This book makes me feel as though I'm sitting at the knee of my grandfather, listening to wise recollections. A writer of articles in the 1950's and 1960, many for the New Yorker, the author intelligently and thoughtfully steps through 12 events, one per chapter. At first I thought perhaps I was I had heard, as I think everyone else has, that Business Adventures was a favorite book of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I read the ebook, and I understand a print version will be forthcoming in September. This book makes me feel as though I'm sitting at the knee of my grandfather, listening to wise recollections. A writer of articles in the 1950's and 1960, many for the New Yorker, the author intelligently and thoughtfully steps through 12 events, one per chapter. At first I thought perhaps I was particularly dense and wasn't getting the message. What held these stories together? Eventually, I realized that the author is not driving home a point, selling anything, or giving advice. His observations leave room for the reader to consider events, their connections, their parallels to today, the importance of character, and the question of morality in business. It was refreshing not to be told what to think. I enjoyed the stories of Ford's Edsel, Piggly Wiggly, Xerox, Goodrich vs Latex. The chapter on the federal income tax is particularly relevant, given the wide-spread debate about taxes and modern conversations about the 1%. John Brooks' perspective is firmly rooted in the past, when the book was written, and provides readers opportunity for a sense of omniscience since we can consider ramifications the author himself could not be aware of, at that time. Details may change. People do not.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rick Rowland

    I had such a great time reading this book. Like I have said before, I am not an educated man. I only have a GED. But that did not stop me from understanding and enjoying this book. I learned so much and the authors style kept my attention locked. i hope you enjoy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    12 vignettes on very different business situations. Wall Street woes, Ford Emodel issues, intellectual property litigations, FOREX, shareholding times, market volatility, corporate communications vs labirintine relationships... etc. Lots of indusctries and cases to observe: GE, Ford and Xerox are next to Piggly Wiggly and Texas Gulf... Everything's a bit dated, of course. Still, the salient points of this caliber are never lost since nothing's new under the moon.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Recommended by Bill Gates. 3.5 stars. The author has a talent for making complex financial concepts accessible. The essays on the Edsel, Xerox, and the non-compete were especially good. Annotations added 4.6.19: "The [Internal Revenue] Code, a document longer than 'War and Peace,' is phrased--inevitably, perhaps--in the sort of jargon that stuns the mind and disheartens the spirit...." (p. 112) "I find that companies are inclined to be at their most interesting when they are undergoing a little mis Recommended by Bill Gates. 3.5 stars. The author has a talent for making complex financial concepts accessible. The essays on the Edsel, Xerox, and the non-compete were especially good. Annotations added 4.6.19: "The [Internal Revenue] Code, a document longer than 'War and Peace,' is phrased--inevitably, perhaps--in the sort of jargon that stuns the mind and disheartens the spirit...." (p. 112) "I find that companies are inclined to be at their most interesting when they are undergoing a little misfortune...." (p.179) "After apologizing for the fact that he had only a few minutes to spend with me, he said, rapidly, that in his opinion the success of Xerox was proof that the old ideals of free enterprise still held true, and that the qualities that had made for the company's success were idealism, tenacity, the courage to take risks, and enthusiasm. With that, he waved goodbye and was off." (pp. 196-197, on meeting Xerox in-house counsel Linowitz)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Dated, slow, and failed to carry a common theme are among the criticisms of this republished book, which has been touted by wunderkind, Bill Gates. Sadly, the criticisms are all quite true. Most of these "classic tales" date from the late 50s and 60s, ranging from the colossal failure of Ford's Edsel model, to the vagaries of the federal taxation system, to the syndicate of nations that avoided a collapse of the British pound, to a case of cornering the market (Piggly Wiggly), to a case of trade Dated, slow, and failed to carry a common theme are among the criticisms of this republished book, which has been touted by wunderkind, Bill Gates. Sadly, the criticisms are all quite true. Most of these "classic tales" date from the late 50s and 60s, ranging from the colossal failure of Ford's Edsel model, to the vagaries of the federal taxation system, to the syndicate of nations that avoided a collapse of the British pound, to a case of cornering the market (Piggly Wiggly), to a case of trade secrets vs. free employment. The only story that I found interesting was the career and philosophy of Tennessee Valley Authority chairman, David Lilienthal.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Business Adventures is well written, as John Brooks is able to tell these stories entertainingly by emphasising funny dialogues, and his generally great way with words. Brooks takes a human interest angle and describes the character of key people not just the facts, and thus adds a richness to each ‘adventure’. Essentially this similar to long form journalism today. However, the book requires the reader to read between the lines and draw its own conclusions, as Brooks does not deliver read-made Business Adventures is well written, as John Brooks is able to tell these stories entertainingly by emphasising funny dialogues, and his generally great way with words. Brooks takes a human interest angle and describes the character of key people not just the facts, and thus adds a richness to each ‘adventure’. Essentially this similar to long form journalism today. However, the book requires the reader to read between the lines and draw its own conclusions, as Brooks does not deliver read-made solutions or answers but merely describes the stories and challenges. Some of the stories are more useful than others - my view on all 12: 1. Story of the mini stock market crash on 28 May 1962, shows how it is all about mood and trend in short run, rather than underlying economics of the market / firms. 2. The story of the Ford Edsel failure cannot easily be allocated to a single reason, but while I still think the bad name (not taking into account research) is an issue, it ultimately boils down tone thing: Product focus matters: The Edsel just wast a good car to drive, especially the initial batches that were reviewed by consumer magazines. 3. History of the US Income Tax. Interesting to learn its history (e.g. initially only raised in war times, and required 16th amendment as not apportioned to states). However, less insightful than other stories. It does however have some good evidence of progressiveness of the tax apart from richest as they can afford better lawyers and mainly earn money in stock (especially options) and can utilise charity deductions. 4. Insider trading case of Texas Gulf discovering a rich ore mine at Kidd 55 in Canada makes for interesting story. The company understated reports even though officers were buying shares internally, posing the crucial question: When exactly does something become official? In this case, there was also an interesting angle whether the press conference or the information appearing on Dow Jones broad tape would make it publicly known. While the nature elf this has changed due to the advances in telecommunication, this remains an important issue. Of course, the U.S. court of appeals for second circuit reversed judgment clarifying most stock buying in the case was illegal since knowledges existed since first drill hole. 5. Story of how Xerox invented photocopying as we know it today is mainly one of believing in the product. Xerox spent twice their revenue ($75m) on it until it worked, executives took payment in stock and put mortgages into it (and even got support from university of Rochester). But it also offers insight into other areas: Describes the impact of copying onto copyright and how some thought books may disappear; apparently some things never change… Furthermore, there are lessons to be learned about the executives attitude to not taking stock movements too seriously, and the challenge of keeping company culture during rapid growth (e.g. becoming more impersonal when lot of new employees join. Overall, one of the best ones in the book. 6. Brooks outlines how Ira Haupt & Co are likely going to go bankrupt because of forged collateral by one of its clients, and the stock exchange works with banks to bail them out. Not hugely insightful, but has interesting parallels to the situation of Long Term Capital Management roughly 40 years later, down to the bank negotiations and people taking hold of floors in exchange buildings (even though the reasons each firm finds itself in precarious situation are very different indeed). 7. Highly interesting insight into the challenges of corporate communication, told through the case of price fixing in electrical equipment, with a focus on GE. Shows that stating price fixing isn't allowed in company handbook isn't enough if there is culture of it (such as executives using winks to show they’re not serious about it), and consistency of message is also key: Even if staff is admonished by senior person (here the CEO Paxton) not to do price fix, others may communicate something different, and ultimately a senior person may simply not be told (like Paxton wasn’t - apparently). Additionally, if you don't believe message you’re communicating, that will come across. 8. Clarence Saunders, founder of Piggly Wiggly stores, tried to corner short sellers but failed since exchange halted trading and extended call for stock by five days. Not particularly insightful, though it brings home the point to 'Don't try to beat Wall Street at their own game’. The story does however contain a few interesting nuggets, such as Saunders founding the first supermarkets with Piggly Wiggly, as they were self service; and his attempts to further streamline the service when founding chains Keedoozle and Foodelectric. In the latter, customers used a key to tabulate what they wanted from showroom, and then collect it - which shows that Saunders was years ahead, as this is similar to companies such as Argos today. 9. A very narrow story about an individual, and thus rather limited: Lilienthal, previously a high ranking government employee (in charge of Tennessee Valley Authority and then chairman of Atomic Energy Commission - AEC), talking about how fulfilling running a Company is, but also the risks to getting lost in it; as well as the balance between being involved in detail but keeping far enough away to think strategically also. 10. Brooks describes visiting various stockholder meetings - entertaining but limited learning: Maybe that professional stockholders like to profile themselves, and CEOs can sue that in annual meetings, as smaller stockholders tend to be more likely to support management. 11. Brooks illustrates the issue of trade secrets using the case of Wohlgemut - an engineer working sued upon switching jobs from Goodrich to Latex Corporation, as both were making space suits and Goodrich thought they would lose trade secrets. Court ultimately decided he can switch jobs, but injunction against revealing trade secrets. 12. Great story of Black Friday, but a poor economic take on fixed currency, especially the Pound Sterling. The pound was fixed to dollar as a result of Bretton Woods agreement of 1944, while the dollar was fixed to gold. Pressure from speculation and companies hedging against devaluation finally results in Black Friday (17th Nov 1967) and devaluation of Pound from 2.80 to 2.40 on sat. Unfortunately, since a lot of factors, such as fixed currency and a Bank of England not independent, are a factor of their times, it has limited insight for current policies apart form the power of free market.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diego

    Twelve Wall Street stories from the 60s. These type of lessons are valuable to understand, but unfortunately not all were readable. I was still able to get the summary of each except one. I have no idea what nine was about. One Market fluctuations is about a three day dip in the market in 1962, of which was caused by the delay in information. Not exactly applicable today. Two Ford’s introduction of the Edsel was a bust. This appears to be due to over hype and marketing at the wrong time, and going a Twelve Wall Street stories from the 60s. These type of lessons are valuable to understand, but unfortunately not all were readable. I was still able to get the summary of each except one. I have no idea what nine was about. One Market fluctuations is about a three day dip in the market in 1962, of which was caused by the delay in information. Not exactly applicable today. Two Ford’s introduction of the Edsel was a bust. This appears to be due to over hype and marketing at the wrong time, and going all in on it. But companies can make mistakes and bounce back. This story was a bit long. Three Federal Income Tax developed out of the need to supply war, but was highly unpopular. It has since been modified to the point of complexity that only favors the rich. Trump now claims simplicity, but favors the rich and screws the poor. It’s only getting worse. Loopholes can be exploited by the rich. Four A story about Texas Gulf drilling for natural resources in Canada, and the information didn’t make it to the media quickly. And the belief of how big the find was didn’t resonate with what the market knew from the first report. Also that only the employees knew the real story and was able to buy up stock. This lead to an SEC court case of insider trading. Not an issue today with the internet available and information updates are instant. This may be about practicing emotional intelligence by not rushing a public statement until all facts are set. Insider trading at the level of thousands of shares is a red flag when purchased directly after a major company strategic event. Five Xerox unknowingly put themselves right in the behind enabling copy-write law infractions. Books were being copied and the situation became political very quick. Thus, the company became involved and more political. They turned out to be a company that also donates to their local university. Six A company is discovered to have no assets and is illiquid. They report to Wall Street and JFK is assassinated that morning. The market is stopped. They basically spend the time to regroup and figure out what to do. They decide to borrow money and repay the customers that lost money. This would never happen again, not when it’s so easy to go bankrupt nowadays. And that Wall Street is the devils lair. Seven This appears to be a purposeful lack of communication about price fixing and violating anti trust laws at the executive level of GE. Conniving stories spinner as poor communication. Typical. Eight Cornering the market is when bears sell off and try to get the price to drop so they can buy low. Bulls will then corner the market by buying up all those floating shares and selling at whatever price they want. They flood the news with propaganda that the stock is bad. This was about Piggly Wiggly and it’s founder. Nine .... Ten Stockholder meeting in AT&T with everyone arguing with one another in 1966. Then another in Atlanta for GE. Small shareholders want more say. Then another about Pfizer’s meeting with open arms and communication. No arguments between stockholders and managers. Evident respect. Chief executive personalities are evident in a public forum of this kind. Eleven A man is approached by another competitor for a better job. Goodrich, his employer, won’t let him leave and threaten to sue him. This one is about the protection of trade secrets. Though one cannot be held guilty before a crime is committed. But could be investigated if found to have used trade secrets. Twelve The US Federal Reserve holds funds for Great Britain, and if they crash or lose money, the Federal Reserve Bank loses. Thus began the defense of the Pound Sterling. Mitigation solutions like devaluation of the currency is explored. Cheaper to export, but making standard of living at home more expensive and cannot buy goods or import. The worry was it would lead to a devaluation of the dollar as well leading to world depression. Great Britain was not good at managing their funds and did not operate to grow, which can leave open for risk and loss in drastic times. Preventative measures weee taken and a crash was vehemently fought. Sterling eventually failed but they bankers that fought it felt a structure was established that made the crash less impactful. I would skip this book. Not very enjoyable to read. Only a few stories were interesting. Recommended by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates but I bet they don’t even remember that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Tollemache

    I give this one a middling review not because it was middling, but it is a 40 year old anthology of business stories and some of them are boring and dated...ie. tax changes of the early 60s, a profile of a forgotten New Deal mandarin and an inconclusive analysis of the Edsel flop. The other stories are really good, I understand why Gates and Buffet cite this book as a favorite. The opening chapter on the mini-crash in '62 and the tech/messaging/quote issues they had reads almost like a tale fro I give this one a middling review not because it was middling, but it is a 40 year old anthology of business stories and some of them are boring and dated...ie. tax changes of the early 60s, a profile of a forgotten New Deal mandarin and an inconclusive analysis of the Edsel flop. The other stories are really good, I understand why Gates and Buffet cite this book as a favorite. The opening chapter on the mini-crash in '62 and the tech/messaging/quote issues they had reads almost like a tale from today minus their Fred Flintstone technology--ooh a computer that can read the NYC phone book in 7 minutes. The mini-panic caused by a fraudulent vegetable oil trade that killed a couple firms and forced Wall Street to pool its $$ to bailout innocent acct holders reads like a premonition of our Age of Bailouts. I also liked the chapter on insider trading in which SEC ruled that insiders trading on info they put out 1 1/2 hours before hand had not allowed enuff time for info to be disseminated, which is comical compared to the instant standard used now. In all a breezy read once you skim the more dated chapters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vijay

    I really enjoyed this book! The author has a real gift for making the financial world extremely interesting. Not since Jeffry Archer and Kane and Abel have I read an account of financial dealings that was so exciting! I particularly enjoyed the struggle to save the sterling, the corner, the life of david lilienthal, and other pieces. Some pieces were kind of boring though. Sadly, the author does not have the gift of brevity, and tends to ramble on and on. Highly recommend for anyone interested in I really enjoyed this book! The author has a real gift for making the financial world extremely interesting. Not since Jeffry Archer and Kane and Abel have I read an account of financial dealings that was so exciting! I particularly enjoyed the struggle to save the sterling, the corner, the life of david lilienthal, and other pieces. Some pieces were kind of boring though. Sadly, the author does not have the gift of brevity, and tends to ramble on and on. Highly recommend for anyone interested in business!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kanishka Sirdesai

    A very dated book having an anthology of business stories. Some are interesting while others read like a scientific journal. Coincidentally, a few stories mirror real life business dilemmas!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dkovlak

    Great book. Since it was written in 1968, a lot has taken place. I wish each story could be updated. The author had a great idea in writing this book. He has written about 12 business adventures during the 60s. It would be great for someone to do a current day version of this book with more current business adventures. An updated version of this book should be included in all MBA programs. I really learned a lot about business from this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Yeah, more people have read this in the past two months than in the prior forty years. I'm glad as the New Yorker + Finance angle is a good one for me. While reading I found the stories interesting, but didn't once think of them afterwards. Guess that's why I'm not one of the two richest folks in America.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tarmo Tali

    This book is not your modern "business" book. It's not a book where a trivial idea is stretched to 500 pages, filled with carefully cherry-picked studies on how well-known brands are successful because of your great idea. There is none of it. It tells 12 stories about the business. They are very well written, and there is plenty to learn from them. I wish I read it ten years ago. It's also a favorite business book of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    Semi-entertaining read. Gates & Buffett have successfully pushed this book into "massively overhyped" territory however. Some of the chapters are rather boring, despite Brooks' engaging prose, which is often tongue-in-cheek. Best chapters: -Texas Gulf Sulphur chapter... this was interesting, learned a lot about the SEC and was fun to read about how the Kidd Mine guys thought they were being clever enough to get away with what was obviously insider trading. Good work from the SEC on this one. -Xero Semi-entertaining read. Gates & Buffett have successfully pushed this book into "massively overhyped" territory however. Some of the chapters are rather boring, despite Brooks' engaging prose, which is often tongue-in-cheek. Best chapters: -Texas Gulf Sulphur chapter... this was interesting, learned a lot about the SEC and was fun to read about how the Kidd Mine guys thought they were being clever enough to get away with what was obviously insider trading. Good work from the SEC on this one. -Xerox ... interesting to see the rise of this important company, and how it was one of the first to adopt the notion of "corporate social responsibility" ... I have a new respect for Xerox now. -"Non-communication at GE" ... definitely the funniest chapter of the book. The stuff about communication via winking is just gold. -"One free bite" ... most entertaining chapter in the book. Very interesting stuff about the development of trade secrets law in here. Raises some interesting moral questions too - loyalty to a company vs. free will to make career moves. Was Wohlgemuth in the right or wrong here? I think compelling arguments can be made on both sides. That said, the "Making the customers whole", Income tax and Lilienthal chapters were just boring. "Piggly Wiggly" chapter was mediocre, and felt the opening/closing chapters on the '62 crash and '67 sterling devaluation were informative but far from memorable. The famous Edsel chapter was just kinda "meh" to me... maybe it would mean more to people who actually care about cars, which I don't. Nevertheless, it's hard NOT to learn some valuable things about business from reading this book, although note that it is very American-centric.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Albert W Tu

    may not be worth your time... Out of print for over 40 years and recently resurrected(#508 on Amazon eBooks and #76 in paperback-and still a few days out from release) this book is cited by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates as their favorite book on business. I'm wagering this book will take over from Piketty's Capital as the most purchased yet unread book of the season and yet the difference in reading pleasure is so stark. Brooks wrote these essays nearly 50 years ago and you can't help but recall t may not be worth your time... Out of print for over 40 years and recently resurrected(#508 on Amazon eBooks and #76 in paperback-and still a few days out from release) this book is cited by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates as their favorite book on business. I'm wagering this book will take over from Piketty's Capital as the most purchased yet unread book of the season and yet the difference in reading pleasure is so stark. Brooks wrote these essays nearly 50 years ago and you can't help but recall that Buffet and Gates are 83 and 58 respectively. The writing feels dated and stilted -- I found the much lauded Edsel piece exceptionally arduous but hardly an outlier. This book is not without merits however. In twelve parts, Brooks does cover many timeless aspects of business from stock markets swings, to non-compete issues, to income tax, insider trading. The story of business, like any history, is rife with repetition and so contemporary parallels abound. The frantic efforts to cleanly dissolve the Haupt brokerage firm eerily resonates the start of the Great Recession and the final chapter on international coordination to defend the sterling in the late 60s reminds you of the last few years as well. Still, I can't say this is worth the necessary investment in time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gaurav Bhati

    Read this book for the joy of exploring old school style of writing and to experience what good business journalism looks like. Examples are a bit dated, but the storytelling skills of the author make up for it. Author has a unique style of creating a Sherlock Holmes type suspense even while narrating business stories which most people find boring. The book was a bit difficult to read in the beginning, but the style grew on me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denar

    John Brooks tells stories that any business can learn from. Written in detail and entertaining. There are 12 different stories that can be read separately as I knew most of the cases.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mwale Phillimon

    Business is the only employment you can offer to yourself for a life time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott'S Davidson

    Love this book, which it was written 2 years ago instead of 50s. However it's great

  20. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    This little-remembered collection of New Yorker essays from the 1960s surged into popularity recently when both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who, depending on the week or month, are the two richest humans in history, declared it their favorite business book ever. Surprisingly to many, however, this is not a typical business book. It does not feature the typical managerial bromides or numbered lists of MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES. What it does have are 12 extremely well-written, well-th This little-remembered collection of New Yorker essays from the 1960s surged into popularity recently when both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who, depending on the week or month, are the two richest humans in history, declared it their favorite business book ever. Surprisingly to many, however, this is not a typical business book. It does not feature the typical managerial bromides or numbered lists of MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES. What it does have are 12 extremely well-written, well-thought-out stories about disparate events, usually crises, often concerning finance, in business history. As the author John Brooks says in an article on the phenomenally successful Xerox company (appropriately titled "Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox") "I find that companies are inclined to be at their most interesting when they are undergoing a little misfortune." Not surprisingly the flubbed Edsel car merits an extended discussion. Many essays, in fact, focus on the public or legal implications of business mistakes, and aim to suss out the human impact of different policies. For instance, the Xerox article goes into detail on the legal wrangling the technology caused about "fair use" exception to copyright, and how the machine seemed to pose as much a threat to writers as the internet does today. There are few obvious lessons to be gleaned from the book overall, and the author tries hard to convey a narrative instead of a moral; those are probably the reasons why it may be one of the best business books ever. John Brooks has an obvious affinity for intricate details and the importance of subtle differences. One essay, in fact, is merely a droll stroll through the history of income tax provisions. Another details the first real insider trading prosecution, of geologists at Texas Gulf, who traded on a potentially massive Canadian ore fine in 1959. Here Brooks describes the details of prospective ore drilling and of the changing rules of the SEC, and emerges with a confession of how difficult it is to draw a clear line about who or what is an insider. Another article focuses on the collapse of the Ira Haupt brokerage company in November 1963, little remembered today because it coincided with the weekend of the Kennedy assassination. Yet Brooks dives into the nature of the "salad oil scandal" of false warehouse receipts and shoddy auditing that allowed the company to go under, and into how the New York Stock Exchange made the important decision to bail out all the customers of Ira Haupt so there wouldn't be a run on mutual funds. President Johnson, on his first Monday in office, took time to congratulate the Exchange for averting a panic. Some of the stories, such as the stock exchange bail-out, seem to have only grown in importance with time. There is for instance, philosophical disquisition on the General Electric antitrust prosecution, the first criminal antitrust prosecution in the U.S., and how hints and communication nudges could push people into crime while keeping the higher ups plausibly out of danger. There is also the thrilling description of the Federal Reserve's by any means necessary defense of the British pound from speculative attack in 1964. With a focus on finance and financial flubs, this book offers a lot of grist for the modern reader, and, although every story doesn't shine, they are all both thoughtful and entertaining. I think that's why Bill and Warren love it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Interesting to see the mention of this book as a "favorite" of Bill Gates, given to him by Warren Buffet with a strong recommendation. Article in the Wall St. Journal mentioned it was out of print. Within days, miraculously back in print, complete with kindle edition (which I purchased) and climbing the best seller lists. The book's "business adventures" take place in the mid 60's and it was fun to journey back to those days when I could not have cared less about business and finance - provides Interesting to see the mention of this book as a "favorite" of Bill Gates, given to him by Warren Buffet with a strong recommendation. Article in the Wall St. Journal mentioned it was out of print. Within days, miraculously back in print, complete with kindle edition (which I purchased) and climbing the best seller lists. The book's "business adventures" take place in the mid 60's and it was fun to journey back to those days when I could not have cared less about business and finance - provides an interesting perspective after 40 years in business and finance - especially with regard to well paid executives and engineers making an astounding $13k a year! Frankly, they don't write them like this anymore. Probably one of the best written tomes of a non-fiction nature in terms of vocabulary, erudition, grammatical precision and article structure that I have read. Some will find the long detailed stories on the role of the SEC, happenings in the currency exchange markets to be overdone, but for those with and interest it is a treasure trove to explore these things when the U.S. would still pay off foreign currency claims in gold at $35 an ounce.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Danny Hui

    My review: I found this book on Bill Gates top reads. Few books have the effect of showing you the world in a whole new light. This is one of those books. Have you ever wondered why North America doesn't have open government corruption? Or how the concept of insider trading got created? This book has the answers. What I remember: There are 12 very powerful stories that teach a wealth of knowledge. I remember the story of the Model E by Ford, which is funny because it was such a failure that we wou My review: I found this book on Bill Gates top reads. Few books have the effect of showing you the world in a whole new light. This is one of those books. Have you ever wondered why North America doesn't have open government corruption? Or how the concept of insider trading got created? This book has the answers. What I remember: There are 12 very powerful stories that teach a wealth of knowledge. I remember the story of the Model E by Ford, which is funny because it was such a failure that we would think they would never bring it back up. However, they did dig it up when Tesla tried to complete the E in SEXY, which they ended up calling the model 3. Comments: Even though the stories are very old, they are timeless. The lessons I learned in this book really showed me a whole new way of looking at how business shapes our society.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I liked it, mostly. Well-written but ancient (1960s). See mixed reviews at Amazon. Worth a quick look, if your library has a copy -- it's recently been reissued. Not sure why Warren Buffett & Bill Gates are so fond of it. But here's Bill Gates' review: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Busi... So you can judge for yourself. He first read it some 25 years ago (1991). Hey, worked for him, worked for Buffett . . . . I liked it, mostly. Well-written but ancient (1960s). See mixed reviews at Amazon. Worth a quick look, if your library has a copy -- it's recently been reissued. Not sure why Warren Buffett & Bill Gates are so fond of it. But here's Bill Gates' review: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Busi... So you can judge for yourself. He first read it some 25 years ago (1991). Hey, worked for him, worked for Buffett . . . .

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Highton

    The business 'adventures' in this book are all pretty dated - none written later than 1968 - some still a good read, others not. Not sure I understand why the Gates/Buffett quotes of support are so strong

  25. 5 out of 5

    Masatoshi Nishimura

    The story was a bit hard to follow as a layman oblivious to Wall Street culture. You would enjoy it if you follow the movies like The Big Short.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Uday Khanna

    I picked this up when I saw that Bill Gates' quote heaping praises for this one. I dont know If I'm in a position right now to 'quote' something, but have to say this is unbelievably good. I might be guilty of saying this for every book that I read perhaps, but I think I make the right choices haha. When it comes to talking about the financial capital of the world, or the Wall street, there's no one as good as Micheal Lewis. Well, John Brooks 'might' be as good as Lewis. Fantastic narratives, so I picked this up when I saw that Bill Gates' quote heaping praises for this one. I dont know If I'm in a position right now to 'quote' something, but have to say this is unbelievably good. I might be guilty of saying this for every book that I read perhaps, but I think I make the right choices haha. When it comes to talking about the financial capital of the world, or the Wall street, there's no one as good as Micheal Lewis. Well, John Brooks 'might' be as good as Lewis. Fantastic narratives, some of the stories grip you with suspense, oh yes, the post WW2 era was a roller coaster for the entire world. Brooks transforms even the simplest of stories, like the one about Xerox Corp., into a perfect Business Lesson. Ooh btw, Brooks opines very strongly on these 'Shorting speculators/the bear raiders'. It was fun yeah.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Regardless if you’re a business person or not, this book is a staple for those who want to visualize and understand the world of finance. Out of all the business books I’ve tried, this one was written by far the most comprehensively. However, there were still moments in the chapters when the jargon overpowered and I could feel my attention slipping. Overall though, the history of Wall Street that this book provides has given me so much more clarity into understanding the world of finance today and Regardless if you’re a business person or not, this book is a staple for those who want to visualize and understand the world of finance. Out of all the business books I’ve tried, this one was written by far the most comprehensively. However, there were still moments in the chapters when the jargon overpowered and I could feel my attention slipping. Overall though, the history of Wall Street that this book provides has given me so much more clarity into understanding the world of finance today and how we got here. Even if you don’t read the whole book, I would recommend the following chapters for some diverse perspective: The Fluctuation, The Fate of the Edsel, Xerox Xerox Xerox, The Last Great Corner, and Stockholder Season.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Chung

    3.5/5 (stories are very dated, but timeless) John Brooks has the talent to make complex financial concepts/problems sound more simple, and thus I believe readers will be able to find this book less daunting and more approachable. Reading this book, felt like I was listening to an old retiree from wall-street babbling about how his era made some small but dangerous mistakes. If you are looking to learn more about business, I wouldn’t recommend this book - but if you are just looking for a fun read 3.5/5 (stories are very dated, but timeless) John Brooks has the talent to make complex financial concepts/problems sound more simple, and thus I believe readers will be able to find this book less daunting and more approachable. Reading this book, felt like I was listening to an old retiree from wall-street babbling about how his era made some small but dangerous mistakes. If you are looking to learn more about business, I wouldn’t recommend this book - but if you are just looking for a fun read and want to hear amusing, short, and non-fiction stories about the world of finance then I would highly recommend this book. Knock yourself out.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    It took me nearly 2.5 years to finish this book. I originally bought it because it appeared on the “best all-time business books” lists of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s a fine read, but quite dated. It is a classic best consumed slowly, when one is feeling wistful about the commerce of yore and is adorned in a jacket with elbow patches (in a room smelling of rich mahogany and many leather bound books, of course).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ibn Azhar

    If this is the best business book ever read by Bill Gates , he needs to reconsider his reading priorities.Its a five decades old book that hardly resonates with modren day readers.Occassional stories like controversy around switching job of space suit designer or inside trading feels like a cool breeze in otherwise a boring and barren book.

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