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Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond Perfect Paperback – February 29, 2000


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Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond + The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM + Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change
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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (February 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553380834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553380835
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Watson...does a remarkable thing in his memoirs: He tells the truth."
--The Wall Street Journal

"An exciting history of the rise of the American computer industry, written from a unique perspective. But this surprisingly candid book has another dimension. It's about love, about learning how to love."
--The Washington Post Book World

"A refreshingly candid memoir by one of the truly remarkable figures of our time."
--Walter Cronkite

"Highly recommended! An incredible and exciting life story that I couldn't put down."
--John Sculley, former chairman and chief executive officer, Apple Computer

"A frank and revealing picture of Big Blue...and a vivid inside look at the family that dominated its years of spectacular growth."
--The Boston Globe

"A most compelling human drama of the family that dominated the life and times of America's most famous computer colossus."
--The Economist


"A frank and revealing picture of Big Blue -- and a vivid inside look at the family that dominated its years of spectacular growth."                 --The Boston Globe

"A most compelling human drama of the family that dominated the life and times of America's most famous computer colossus."--The Economist -->

From the Inside Flap

In this eloquent first-person account of a family drama that changed the face of American business, the man who transformed IBM into the world's largest computer company reflects on his lifelong partnership with his father--and how their management style and shared dedication to excellence united to create a unique corporate culture that became the blueprint for the entire technology boom.

In the course of sixty years Thomas J. Watson Sr. and his son, Thomas J. Watson Jr., together built the international colossus that is IBM. This is their story: a riveting and revealing account of two men who loved each other--and fought each other--with a terrible fierceness.

But along with the story of a father and son, this is IBM's story too. It chronicles the management insights that shaped its course and its unique corporate culture, the style that made Thomas Watson Sr. one of America's most charismatic bosses, and the daring decisions by Thomas Watson Jr. that transformed IBM into the world's largest computing company. One of the greatest business-success stories of all time, Father, Son & Co. is a moving lesson for fathers who dream for their children, as well as a testament to American ingenuity and values, told in a disarmingly frank and eloquent voice.


Promising to remain an important business reference as we move into the next century, FATHER, SON & CO. takes a look at the management insight that helped to shape IBM's course and unique corporate culture.  It looks at Watson, Sr., one of America's most charismatic bosses, and Watson, Jr., who spurred IBM into the computer age.

Ten years after its original publication, FATHER, SON & CO. remains a uniquely honest book. Watson's willingness to write about the loving but ferociously combative relationship he had with his father and the turbulent battles behind some of IBM's most far-reaching decisions gives readers rare insights into the realities of leadership. -->

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Like getting out of a bi-wing airplane and into a jet.
William E. Andrews
The difference was IBM's leadership and in particular Thomas J. Watson Jr's leadership.
Gabriel Toscana Videgaray
This is a story about IBM, the big blue corporate monolith.
Arun Cavale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on January 8, 2002
Format: Perfect Paperback
This book tells one of the most fascinating, indeed rivetting, stories that I have ever read. It is about the building of one of the great American businesses of the 20C, but also much much more: it is about the conflict of an extraordinarily hard-driving father and his talented though psychologically burdened and rebellious son. From the beginning, they were at eachothers' throats and never relented in their conflict, even when it became evident that the son's genius surpassed that of his father to build an empire that can only be compared to the accomplishments of the first two Caesars, Julius and Augustus. The book also covers a good deal of American business history from the great depression to the beginning of the stagnation of the 1970s and early 1980s. Thus, it can be read on numerous levels.
There are so many insights in it that it will bear re-reading for a long time to come. Watson Jr. was acutely aware of the cost of success and was brutally honest about his own failings as a manager and family man. I find myself remembering scenes in that book, running them in my mind as examples from which to learn.
Warmly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on November 25, 2001
Format: Perfect Paperback
Almost everyone in the U.S. and many parts of the world recognize the three letters "IBM." Where did it start? How did it become so big and encompassing in our lives? This is an autobiography of Tom Watson Jr., former President of IBM and son of the company's founder Tomas Watson Sr. Auto-biographies usually paint more of the bright side than the dark side. But he gave a lot his personal perceptions, fears, thoughts, and family relationships in this book, and for that respect is deserved. He never came off as condescending considering the wealth and power he attained. He was a poor student, who later became his own man serving in WWII. He did look death in the face on a few occasions. He proved from his own actions to became a good-thinking businessman while ascending to the helm at IBM, which was no easy task. He appears to understand human psychology well also. He also knew whent to get out of the strainfull rat race and enjoy his interests outside of the company.
He came across as a humanist who valued his employees in a personal way uncommon in corporate America. As the company grew so quickly and became so large, there were obvious "big company" problems and issues to address. And he did his best to tackle them.
The book provided a lot of interesting historical background of
his father, the origins of IBM and it's growth. a lot of information about what was going on in American business and technology in the 1950s and 60s is noted as well. Good auto-biography.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 12, 2003
Format: Perfect Paperback
It is always interesting to read what sons have to write about their fathers. Thomas J. Watson Jr.'s book is no exception to this rule. Although in many ways the book is a business biography, the relationship between the two men creeps in between the lines (almost more than you could imagine that the author had intended it to). Watson Jr. was clearly influenced by his iconic father, both for better and for worse. The book is a lot about how that influence (and the escape from that influence) shaped the company that is IBM today.

Obviously the company has gone through many changes since this book has written-- Gerstner, downsizing, eBusiness, Business Consulting Services, etc. But still, it is remarkable how much of the culture is recognizable back to the very earliest days.

I have a special interest in the subject matter, so it is hard for me to say how fascinating someone without an IBM attachment would find the book. If you do have that special interest in IBM history, however, it is an interesting book and well executed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Toscana Videgaray on April 21, 2000
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
What is the difference between a widely successful company and a mediocre one? What was the difference between IBM and, say, the makers of UNIVAC? The difference was not in the technology or in being at the right place at the right time. The difference was IBM's leadership and in particular Thomas J. Watson Jr's leadership. There are exceedingly few examples in the history of business when a very successful company risks everything to climb to an even higher level. That is what IBM did with project 360 and it is possible that no other person except Watson Jr. was in a position to implement such a daring undertaking. He had courage, vision, and, yes, credibility. IMHO, Tomas J. Watson Jr. is the manager of the century (20th)and through this book you can gain some insights into his leadership style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on February 29, 2008
Format: Perfect Paperback
This is a brilliant autobiography from one of the most talented business figures in last century. This book is unique for two reasons: (1) seldom had an author who had had experienced so much and accomplished so much; (2) his keen observation of human natures - expressed in a self-deprecating and humorous manner.

In the end, you could tell Watson Jr. afterall was very self-assured of himself - at least toward the last phase of his life. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain how he would be willing to be vulnerable and reveal so much - about his own psyche, his family feud and IBM in general.

This is a highly readable autobiography - highly recommended.
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