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Faith and Fortune: The Quiet Revolution to Reform American Business Hardcover – October 12, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the shadow cast by recent corporate scandals, Gunther (The House That Roone Built) provides a reason to hope for something better from big business. Gunther, a senior writer at Fortune magazine, postulates that "a growing number of big corporations now believe that doing good is good business, and they are acting accordingly." To prove the point, he profiles companies and leaders who wear their values on their sleeves. Gunther's journalistic skills sparkle, and his book is at its best as he relates the history of these corporations, splashing the accounts with facts and colorful anecdotes. For example, the reader witnesses Starbucks' commitment to quality at a professional coffee tasting and sees that Southwest Airlines remains a desirable place to work because it received 243,657 résumés while hiring 5,042 new employees in 2002. The author's background also gives him a realistic perspective on whether the majority of companies will choose principles over profit: "The market will eventually settle the debate." Socially conservative readers may feel that Gunther's definition of moral business practice sounds much like modern liberal social dogma, with virtue assigned to government regulation, environmental activism and companies that provide domestic-partner benefits. (Raspberries go to Wal-Mart and to SUV manufacturers.) Still, the book is packed with compelling stories, and it offers a much-needed, balanced look at the well-intentioned side of corporate America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

On July 9, 2001, Fortune magazine published a story by Gunther entitled "God and Business: The Surprising Quest for Spiritual Renewal in the American Workplace," which generated an unprecedented response. It struck a chord because so many people are quietly seeking to live the values of their faith within the context of the place they spend most of their waking hours--at work. Soon after Fortune published his story, Gunther began work on this book, profiling companies and businesspeople that, while not all overtly religious or spiritual, are nonetheless promoting socially conscious ideals and succeeding at it. Tom's of Maine founder Tom Chappell, a Protestant minister, sells $35 million a year of all-natural, personal-care products; Jeff Swartz, the CEO of the Timberland boot company and an Orthodox Jew, follows the credo that "business can do good, therefore, it must do good"; and Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett promote a management philosophy called servant leadership, which stresses modesty and teamwork. Gunther's work breaches "the last taboo in corporate America," one that reconciles our capitalist structure with our deep-seated spiritual beliefs. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; First Edition edition (October 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400048931
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400048939
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write about the social and environmental impact of business. I'm a contributing editor at FORTUNE magazine, a senior writer at Greenbiz.com and a blogger at www.marcgunther.com.

I've written or co-authored four books, including Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American Business (Crown Business, 2004). A book I wrote with my friend Bill Carter about ABC's Monday Night Football, became a cable TV movie starring John Turturro as Howard Cosell.

My newest book--out soon--will be a Kindle Single called Suck It Up: How capturing carbon from the air can help solve the climate crisis. It's about why we're finding it so hard to deal with global warming, and what we might do to change that.

I'm also a marathon runner -- 20 so far! -- and an active member of the Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD. I'm a Yale grad, married, with two grown daughters.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. Stephans VINE VOICE on November 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
According to Marc Gunther's new book Faith and Forutne, blaring headlines indicting corporate leaders for their greed, selfishness and deception overshadow a positive trend among American businesses that is gaining momentum: "Corporate America is changing for the better."

Gunther, a senior writer for Fortune magazine, has written extensively in the past about corporate social responsibility and faith at work. Faith and Fortune, grew out of a 2001 article in Fortune entitled "God and Business: The Surprising Quest for Spiritual Renewal in the American Workplace." He writes that this article generated much more response than his previous 60 articles. Gunther discovered a movement among businesses to place greater value on spirituality and social responsibility.

In this book, he investigates the drivers behind the presence of faith and values in the workplace and the initiatives occurring as a result.

Gunther does not endorse or focus on a particular religion or faith tradition. He explains his approach to writing Faith and Fortune, "Faith provides the fuel that energizes these people as they strive to do business better. Some have faith in God. Others do not. But all of them have faith in the goodness of people, faith in the possibility of change, and perhaps most surprising, faith that corporations can become a powerful force for good in the world."

Through the profiles and conversations that Gunther presents, he shows that living by spiritual values and practicing social responsibility have become good business in America.

Gunther begins his look at faith and business with the historical profile of J.C. Penny. Gunther writes about how Penny's Christianity informed all of his business decisions from day one.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous Reader on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marc Gunther's superb Faith and Fortune explores a variety of businesses whose managers have been guided by values as well as by profit.

Two aspects of this book are especially compelling: (1)Gunther does not shy away from a discussion of spiritual values-- a subject often greeted with unease or disdain by the business community; and (2)Gunther reports the ups and downs of the companies he covers-- his book is honest, rather than a feel-good tract.

Gunther develops riveting profiles of executives who guide values-driven companies and their efforts to reconcile philosophy with the bottom line. An especfially dramatic example: the furniture company Herman Miller's painful downsizing after the decline of its business in the wake of the 2000-2001 downturn. Was the downsizing necessary? Yes. Was it wrenching for a company that prided itself on taking care of its workforce? Yes. And were the layoffs handled as hunanely as possible? Yes, again. As this suggests, values do not free companies from the need to make a profit-- indeed, the practice of values might raise the bar-- but Gunther introduces us to individuals who have achieved significant success in building more ethical companies while continuing to operate profitably, and that is something to cheer about. Even more cheering is that Gunther-- a senior writer for Fortune Magazine-- has explored this theme with sophistication and compassion, rather than with sentimentality, and that he has recorded both successes and setbacks.

Faith and Fortune honors businesspeople who have conducted themselves in ways consistent with the idea of a higher purpose, while continuing to grapple with the bottom line.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Camara Richmond on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I normally eschew religious writing as overly evangelical (regardless of the faith in question). I am also not a big fan of corporate window-dressing-writing. This wonderful book falls into neither category. Faith and Fortune, by Marc Gunther is a marvellous book. It inspires without pretending to have all the answers. For every person who has ever tried to justify socially conscious investing or companies that put some of their profits back into the community, this book is a must read. Unfortunately, this book apparently came out shortly before the 2004 election and did not get the publicity or audience it deserved. This is a terrible shame. Any thinking and moral person tries to combine her financial responsibilities (to her family, shareholders, whoever) with the need to live a moral and balanced life. As our world becomes more interconnected and more susceptible to the ripple effect from one person's actions, thinking about how to combine personal morality with the Darwinian need to succeed becomes more and more important. This book actually makes a great companian to Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Succeed or Fail, which also touches on zero sum mentalities and how to expand the available resources through thinking more altruistically.

Faith and Fortune is inspiring and well-written. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian W. Fowler on April 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Faith and Fortune, subtitled "the quiet revolution to reform American business," by Mark Gunther of Fortune magazine, celebrates the usual socially responsible corporations and entrepreneurs for their endurance over more massive corporations that disappeared in the last years of the previous millennium as American business experienced its moral meltdown. But while duly celebrating human decency and commitment to others, this engaging book doesn't quite capture the changes in the "atmosphere" of the workplace that contributed to both the horror of Enron and the success of companies like Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, and Timberland. Rather, Gunther gets on the moral values bandwagon (a characteristic of our age) by focusing on the concept of "values" as they apply--or should apply--to the business world.

I joined corporate America in the early `90s at what had once been John D Rockefeller's original company, Standard Oil of Ohio, and the overarching belief system was that markets would find a solution for everything. The company's social responsibility was still grounded in the same rigid Christian attitude of the founder's era--namely, that the poor were owed compassion and a handout. Over the following decade, the fall of the great tobacco empires--and their miscalculation that Washington, D.C., would never forget all their political donations--spurred self-scrutiny and the realization that nothing lasts forever, that companies need to pay more than lip service to the communities in which they operate, and that corporations need to foster trust among their numerous stakeholders.

Gunther tackles two themes. The first is that the admirable personal values of businesspeople, whatever their faith, need not be compromised in the world of business.
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