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Good Guys and Bad Guys: Behind the Scenes with the Saints and Scoundrels of American Business (and Everything in Between) Hardcover – May 29, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; BUS edition (May 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841623
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841623
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

a Nocera demystifies the world of business with original thinking, brainy reporting, and the ability to see around corners. . . . Nocera knows that persuasion isnat about haranguing, that itas better to lead the reader toward your conclusion and depart gracefully rather than hammer him over the head with it.a
aJack Shafer, "Slate" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Joe Nocera is a columnist for The New York Times, and co-author of All the Devils are Here. He spent ten years at Fortune as a contributing writer, editor at large, executive editor, and editorial director. He has won three Gerald Loeb awards for excellence in business journalism and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. He lives in New York.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Nocera has spent time with the great business leaders of this era.
Don McNay
His features read like fiction, because he's good at dramatizing and characterization.
Gaunilon
I will now look forward to reading his columns and articles in the NY Times/Magazine.
Travis Galdieri

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Great journalists are renowned for "getting the story" and then telling it well because they are gifted raconteurs whose keen analytical minds focus on who and what are most interesting as well as most significant. They suggest implications that help their readers (and viewers) to gain a greater understanding of what the "story" means. In recent years, my favorite journalists include Ken Auletta, Elizabeth Drew, Thomas Friedman, Hendrick Hertzberg, Jeffrey Toobin...and Joe Nocera. For almost thirty years, Nocera has written articles for a wide range of publications that include The New York Times (for which he writes a Saturday column, "Talking Business") and its Sunday magazine as well Esquire, GQ, Fortune, Money, Slate, and Texas Monthly. What we have in this volume is a collection of articles about various "good guys & bad guys," written over a period from 1982 until 2007.

He divides his material within 14 chapters. The articles of special interest to me are these:

Two articles about Boone Pickens, "It's Time to Make a Deal" in Chapter 1 and "Return of the Raider" in Chapter 14, that serve as "book ends" to all the other articles in between

His profile of Steve Jobs ("Jobs Agonistes") in Chapter 2

His analysis of Charlie Merrill and his dysfunctional relations with members of his family, especially his sons

His profile of Warren Buffett ("Saint Warren of Omaha") in Chapter 8

His explanation of "our love-hate relations with Wal-Mart" in Chapter 13

Obviously, other readers will have different favorites among the 26 articles assembled in this volume. However different the subjects and circumstances may be, however, all of them are exceptionally well-written, informative, and (more often that not) highly entertaining.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Brown on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be just a collection of Nocera's articles. True he has added a preface to each article to make it a chapter, but those small additions don't tie the separate pieces together for me. Reading this book also made me realize the difference between magazine articles and books. The magazine article typically has a point of view (so-and-so is a jerk or a good guy) and everything in the article supports that point of view. I expect a book to be more nuanced pointing out both sides of a person or issue.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Houman Tamaddon on August 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book consists of a nice compilation of Joe Nocera's business stories over the past 25 years or so. Readers interested in business histories and people connected to some of the corporations will not be disappointed. The title is simplistic and inaccurate. The characters are certainly a lot more complex and cannot be characterized as "good" or "bad". In all fairness coming up with a title that unifies all the stories is a challenge. Book consists of 14 main chapters:

1) Boone Pickens (the 1st and last chapters cover him)
2) Steve Jobs
3) "Ga-Ga Years" covers the stock market boom and October crash of 1987
4) Michael Milken
5) Charlie Merrill
6) Lawyers involved in silicon breast implants litigation
7) Bancrofts
8) Warren Buffett
9) Henry Blodget
10) Enron collapse
11) Clifford Asness (a hedge fund manager)
12) Steve Parrish of Philip Morris
13) One chapter dedicated to 6 short articles including Starbucks, Walmart, and Home Depot

Nocera is an excellent writer whose stories are engaging. The articles, which vary in length, explore the companies and more importantly the individuals connected to the companies. We learn that human nature is perhaps the biggest force that shapes businesses.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Travis Galdieri on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book today, and I am almost sad to be done with it. I consider myself a casual business reader, as I recently read "The Biography of the Dollar" by Craig Karmin as well as The Age of Turbulence by you know who. Both were great reads, but Nocera's work tops my list.

I studied economics in college, and work in the financial field now, so I stay up to date with the business world, but I never got a chance to learn about the big players of American business past. This collection of Nocera's previous articles/columns combined with his current reflections and insights is a perfect way to become familiar with the stories and personality characteristics of American business icons from Charles Merrill to Steve Jobs.

Nocera's writing style and his ability to become close with his interviewees is very engaging and provides for great storytelling. As he says in the beginning of his book, business stories can be some of the most drama filled and compelling tales to read, and he does a great job at doing just that.

If you enjoy reading gripping stories, opinions, and insights of American business icons, I recommend picking this up. I will now look forward to reading his columns and articles in the NY Times/Magazine.
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