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Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American [Hardcover]

by Richard S. Tedlow
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 2, 2006 1591841399 978-1591841395 First Edition
Andy Grove survived both the Nazis and the Communists to become the quintessential American capitalist. Even more important, he is the best role model we have for doing business in the twenty-first century.

Any short list of the world's most admired business people would include Andy Grove, the chairman and CEO of Intel in its years of explosive growth. During his career, Intel became the model for Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley became the model for the world. And Grove became Time's Man of the Year-an icon of the promise of the American life.

The simple facts of Grove's career are the stuff of legend. Born in Hungary of Jewish origin in 1936, he survived the Holocaust only to face the Soviet invasion. He escaped to New York, penniless, at age twenty, and embraced America, transforming himself from Andr‡s Istv‡n Gr—f into Andrew Stephen Grove. After putting himself through college and graduate school, he arrived in Silicon Valley at the perfect time for an ambitious young engineer. He joined Intel at its founding in 1968, rose to CEO in 1987, then led the company into the stratosphere, with compound annual profit growth at 34 percent for the next eleven years.

Despite decades of media scrutiny and six of Grove's own books, there remains a powerful element of mystery about him. This definitive biography, by a Harvard Business School professor with unprecedented access, finally cracks the code of who Andy Grove really is, how his mind works, how he attacks impossible problems, and how he leads others to exceed their own expectations of themselves.

After extensive and meticulous research, Richard S. Tedlow has produced the most complete picture ever of this fascinating, colorful, often brilliant but sometimes maddening business genius.

The most consistent and important theme of Grove's life is how he responds to change: boldly, quickly, with every scrap of his intelligence but no respect for conventional wisdom. As Tedlow observes, "Grove has escaped natural selection by doing the evolving himself. Forcibly adapting himself to a succession of new realities, he has left a trail of discarded assumptions in his wake. When reality has changed, he has found a way to let go and embrace the new."

Some of the insights in Andy Grove include:
* How Grove's traumatic youth shaped both his personality and his approach to business and led to his signature phrase-"Only the Paranoid Survive."
* How he studied human dynamics and taught himself to become a great manager, developing such formulations as "strategic inflection point," "knowledge power trumps position power," "constructive confrontation," and others.
* How his complex relationships evolved with the legendary cofounders of Intel, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce.
* Why he stumbled during the Pentium crisis of 1994, and how he parlayed it into a reinvigorated concept of ingredient branding ("Intel Inside").

Tedlow, an acclaimed business historian, interviewed dozens of people and examined mountains of documents, with Grove's total cooperation. Yet Grove exercised no editorial control and did not see even one page of the manuscript. This is an unauthorized biography that uniquely illuminates Grove's life, Intel's history, and the rise of Silicon Valley.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this highly readable but deliberately paced biography, Harvard professor and historian Tedlow (Giants of Enterprise) makes a case for Andy Grove (b. 1936) taking a place alongside Benjamin Franklin as a quintessential American businessman and citizen. Indeed, Grove rose from being a penniless Hungarian refugee to an engineer hired as Intel's third employee, eventually heading the corporation—"one of the most profitable companies in all of business history." Tedlow builds the book around a year-by-year, blow-by-blow account of Intel's ups and downs, punctuated by Grove's contemporaneous musings, drawn from his private notebooks. Following the company over the rocky patches in its trajectory from semiconductors to microprocessors, Tedlow situates Intel among its industry partners and competitors. Sometimes, there's too much context: the author conveys a good deal about Hungary's modern political history and scrutinizes every available scrap of information about his subject's childhood. There are also 20 pages on the 1994 Pentium "floating point flaw" debacle and 15 pages on Grove's battle with prostate cancer. But as a biography of Intel as well as a primer on Grove's writings and management philosophy, the book is truly illuminating. In offering a closeup portrait of this prickly but gifted executive, Tedlow helps us understand why Grove's tenure as Intel's CEO "was so spectacularly successful." (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Tedlow, a business historian and academic, presents the story of Andy Grove, a penniless Hungarian immigrant who became an icon of twentieth-century corporate America. Grove joined Intel in 1968 at its founding, and while he was CEO from 1987 to 1998, "market capitalization increased from $4.3 billion to $197.6 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 42% and a total increase of almost 4,500%." Grove led the company with Intel's 386 microprocessor, which became the industry standard. Tedlow describes Grove, Time magazine's 1997 man of the year, as an extraordinary manager, author, and significant player in the fights against prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease. With unique access to Grove and Intel's internal resources and documents, Tedlow claims objectivity, telling the truth as he sees it in this laudatory narrative, although he also confirms his close ties to the subject. In comparing Grove to Benjamin Franklin (among other notables), Tedlow tells us that the two share the traits of "care and skill at image management." Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; First Edition edition (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841395
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars András István Gróf, American November 28, 2006
While reading and then reviewing most of Richard Tedlow's previous books, I was soon convinced that he is a cultural anthropologist as well as a business historian. With consummate skill, he creates a richly textured context within which he analyzes various corporate executives such as Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Robert Noyce, both Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and Jr., Charles Revson, and Sam Walton. His talents are comparable with those of Joseph J. Ellis and David McCullough. As he explains in the introduction to this book, he interviewed dozens of people about the life and times of Andy Grove, asking each "What would make this book a page-turner for you?" Here are three responses:

"I want to know how he thinks."

"I want to know how all these decisions really did get made."

"I want to know all the stuff that he won't tell you about."

Tedlow provides answers to these and other questions as he rigorously examines "the life and times of an American" who was born András István Gróf in Hungary (in 1936), to a middle-class Jewish family. In 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution, he left his home and family under the cover of night, immigrating to the United States, and arriving in New York in 1957. He then earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the City College of New York and then, after settling in California, he received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963. After working at Fairchild Semiconductor, Grove accepted Gordon Moore's invitation to become the third employee at a start-up, Intel Corporation (Integrated Electronics), of which he eventually became president in 1979, its CEO in 1987, and its chairman and CEO in 1997.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
In Mukul Pandya and Robbie Shell's profile of the top 25 business leaders today, "Lasting Leadership", they cite one above all others, Intel's CEO Andy Grove. The one chapter on Grove (appropriately entitled "Best of the Best") certainly whet my appetite for Harvard Business School professor and historian Richard Tedlow's full-fledged biography, which turns out to be not only a thoughtful profile of Grove but also a fascinating historical overview of the technology industry. How these two aspects intertwine provides the most provocative parts of the book, in particular, how Grove's visionary acumen anticipated the growing demand for instant information and how the personal computer was to become a mandatory household and office item.

Nonetheless, the more personal story behind Grove will interest many readers since his background reflects a remarkable transformation under the most adverse of circumstances. Born a Jew in 1936 Nazi-occupied Hungary when anti-Semitic laws were being fully enforced, Grove managed to survive not only the Nazi regime but the post-WWII Communist takeover. During the bloody Hungarian Revolution, he left his family and escaped to the U.S. when he was twenty. Penniless, he worked his way to a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Berkeley in 1963. He worked his way up from Fairchild Semiconductors, where they introduced the first integrated circuit, to become the fourth employee of Intel and begin an impressive upward climb.

This is where Tedlow provides sharp insight into Grove's clever navigation though Intel's management structure under co-founders Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce, and more importantly, how Grove became an acknowledged leader in Silicon Valley for his groundbreaking thinking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ this book - LEARN about a MASTER!!!! March 7, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that every businessman confronted with the problems of rapid change needs to read. Intel the giant technology company is Andy Grove, and Andy Grove is Intel. More than any other single individual, Grove left his footprint on this company. He started off as Intel's 3rd hire; the first two were Gordon Moore, and Bob Noyce, two other Silicon Valley legends. By the time Grove was finished there were tens of thousands of employees.

You might recall that Gordon Moore, Andy's mentor is the creator of the famous "Moore's Law". There are many variations of Moore's Law, and Moore never called it a law by the way. Essentially it means that the computer power that can be placed on a chip doubles every 18 months, some say 2 years, and the cost drops by half. The law has basically held up since its inception in 1965.

Richard Tedlow, the author is a full Professor at Harvard Business School. He has obviously put his heart and soul into this book. Andy Grove did not read this book until it was finished, and published. He did not want to get into a shoot-out about what was in the book. You might recall that Grove wrote several books himself. One of them had the great title, "Only the Paranoid Survive". I believe this biography is better than the books Grove wrote.

Grove has stated that the author knows more about him, than he knows about himself. Upon reading the book, Grove could not figure out how the author was able to obtain so much information about him. In the end, this is what an author is supposed to do, isn't it? The vital concepts that I took out of Tedlow's writings are:

1) Here's a man that should have died three times before he got to America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Grove and Gerstner Jr.
If you are interested in the biographies of extremely successful entrepreneurs and business executives you should read "Andy Grove" written by Richard S. Read more
Published on July 12, 2011 by Peter de Toma sen.
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't quit on Hungary! Get on your heels and help them!
Andrew Grove needs to grow emotionally and stop hanging on to his bad memories about Hungary and its people. Read more
Published on October 9, 2010 by Zrinyi Ilona
4.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of a business leader with a slight bias
Richard Tedlow produces a very interesting, although slanted, biography of Andy Grove. While many things have been written about Grove including several autobiographies this is... Read more
Published on November 1, 2009 by Lehigh History Student
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, mediocre story teller
Andy Grove is as great an example of the American dream as you will ever get. As if surviving the Holocaust weren't enough, Andy also experienced first-hand the brutality of the... Read more
Published on January 9, 2008 by Sutirtha Bagchi
4.0 out of 5 stars The early years are the best
Anyone interested in reading about Andy Grove probably already knows he is far from your typical American business executive. Read more
Published on May 25, 2007 by T. Burket
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but Disappointing
Being an immigrant myself, I always regard Andy as one of the most admirable models. In fact, that was the main reason that I enjoyed reading this book, from cover to cover. Read more
Published on May 11, 2007 by Yang
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, detailed bio of Intel's leader
"Americans don't know how lucky they are," a young immigrant named Andy Grove told The New York Times in 1960 after graduating first in his engineering class. Read more
Published on March 19, 2007 by Rolf Dobelli
4.0 out of 5 stars Andy Grove - An Incredible Man!
Andy Grove is an incredible man, achieving the American dream, starting as a penniless immigrant and rising to head Intel - a giant leader in the semiconductor industry. Read more
Published on March 10, 2007 by Loyd E. Eskildson
5.0 out of 5 stars Andy Grove: A National Treasure
This is well a written biography that tells the story of Intel in the context of the life of Andy Grove. Read more
Published on January 16, 2007 by Old Master
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book about a fascinating man
I am not typically one to read biographies, but I had heard so much about Andy Grove over the years that I bought and read Tedlow's book. I'm glad I did. Read more
Published on December 25, 2006 by S. Lionel
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