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Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire Hardcover – October 28, 1994

123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This biography of business magnate Lewis is based on his unfinished autobiography; he died in 1993 at age 50 from brain cancer. Walker, who writes for the "Money" section of USA Today, completed the book after interviewing Lewis's family, friends, colleagues and employees. Lewis, growing up in an African American family in segregated Baltimore, attended parochial school, worked his way through college and Harvard Law and became a successful attorney and highly visible business executive, capping his career with the leveraged buyout of conglomerate Beatrice International Foods for $985 billion in 1987. His personal fortune was $400 million, we learn in this inspiring bio/business study, which deftly conveys Lewis's concerns not only about his work but also about his family, race and his own death. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Black Enterprise.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA?Even as a small child, Lewis's goal was to become the richest black man in America. When he died of brain cancer at age 50 in 1993, he was worth over $400 million and was considered by Forbes magazine to be one of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Not only was he an extremely successful businessman, but he was also a caring philanthropist. His journey from middle-class Baltimore resident to international citizen makes for fascinating reading. He was in the process of writing his autobiography when he died, and Walker consulted many sources in order to give a full and accurate account of this intense, goal-oriented man's life. Lewis's words appear in italics; Walker's, in Roman typeface, provide additional information. Walker discusses his subject's private life, but he concentrates more on the business aspects. This is enough. It is inspiring to see how one individual can plan ahead and overcome both racial and financial obstacles to become such a world-wide success.?Pat Royal, Crossland High School, Camp Springs, MD
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 28, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471042277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471042273
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Davis on December 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book made me want to work so much harder in life to achieve my business goals. The key is fake it until you make it. No one knows you struggles unless you tell them and you can't make excuses for your life and why you have to work hard. I read it fast and read it again.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J-Rock on March 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've been reading more business related stuff as of late, and I picked up "Why Should White Guys..." a while back. Reginald Lewis earns tremendous respect in my eyes for his intense energy and willingness to take risks to achieve. Reading this book, you can see what a trailblazer he actually was as he pulled off a seemingly impossible buyout of Beatrice Foods and then drove them to strong economic performance.

I give this 4 stars because I'm ambivalent on Lewis' significance for black Americans. He achieved and he's given back a lot to the community, as evidenced by the Reginald Lewis Library in Baltimore. But this book also reveals that his success was greatly aided by Michael Milken's junk bonds [although in the book's defense Milken was still positively regarded at the time of writing] and he deeply loved being part of Harvard Law School and chose to make a very public donation of a multimillion dollar building to them as he became established.

I think the lack of discussion of some of these issues reflects the time period that this book was written in rather than any fault of the author. This is an authorized biography with large samplings of Lewis' own words. Lewis' amazing rise deserves a full-scale critical biography, and I'll give this a high rating until something else comes out to supplant it.

4 stars.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was an awesome read. Mr. Lewis was so focused and excepted nothing but the best from himself and others. He burned the midnight oil and got the job done even when backed against the wall. We are all faced with obstacles in life and Mr. Lewis met those challenges we all face with his head held high. This book inspired me to push and dig and fight and expect to win this game called life inspite of it's challenges. This is a must read!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jason M. Murray on March 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reginald F. Lewis was in the process of jotting down the details of his remarkable rise to power and influence when his beautiful mind finally lost its struggle against brain cancer. Neither his iron will or his indomitable spirit, which had conquered Wall Street and the streets of East Baltimore, could overcome the ominous growth inside his brain. Although Lewis died at the age of 50, he truly experienced several lifetimes of happiness and achievements. Blair S. Walker does a wonderful job of takin Lewis' unfinished memoir and combining it with interviews of Lewis' family and friends in order to tell the story of a black man who was a loving husband, father, son, brother, philanthropist and civil rights activist. In addition to his love for his family and his people, Lewis loved learning and mastering the art of the deal. This passion lead to him becoming a successful lawyer and one of the wealthiest black entrepreneurs in history.
Walker does not sugarcoat Lewis' explosive personality and temper. Rather, Walker tries to make his reader understand that Lewis' legendary explosions propelled a young man who was determined not to be a financial burden upon anyone. Such a determination resulted in Lewis developing an incredible work ethic and the lofty goal of becoming a millionaire. Lewis would constantly critique his work performance and demand better from himself. Anyone working with or for Lewis who gave less than maximum effort would be rebuked by Lewis and informed that such lack of effort is "not acceptable." Lewis was driven and seemingly indefatigable. By the time of his death in 1993, Lewis had amassed a personal fortune that Forbes magazine estimated to be in excess of $400 million dollars. Reginald Lewis' accomplishments are truly remarkable and inspirational.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on November 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book, part history, part eulogy is the story of an African-American from the wrong side of the tracks in Baltimore who made it through Harvard Law and then into corporate financing eventually running Beatrice International one of the larger food companies in the world. While this is a rags-to-riches story, it is more impressive when you realize that when he was born in 1942, Baltimore was a segregated society. And when he died at the young age of fifty he was among America's richest men.

The title rather captures Mr. Lewis's outlook on life. He enjoyed himself, he enjoyed what he was doing, he enjoyed life. Sure he enjoyed the trapping of wealth like the limo. But they were just a symbol of the fun he was having.

A young person, regardless of race, gender, or religion interested in just what can be done by hard work, drive, and intelligence would do well to read this book. It just could be a life changer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Infinite Mind VINE VOICE on May 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was blown away by this book, more so for the similarities between Lewis and myself. I think he was proud of being black but I agree with him that its only an aspect of who you are. Americans as a whole, whether they are black and white tend to group successful blacks as some sort of exception, which is a done and TIRED story. Reginald is a man's man that did things his way successfully. Too bad his life was cut short no telling where he might of been and how much more successful he would have become.

For readers its a look at an intense, fearless, determined, and extremely ambitious man who just happened to be African-American.
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