From Publishers Weekly
In this scathing account, Swasy, who covered Proctor & Gamble for three years for the Wall Street Journal , looks at a generally well-regarded corporation which--if the author is to be believed--has thrived on a combination of Nixonian political deviousness and brutality like that of the KGB. P&G, founded in 1837, manufactures such American commonplaces as Ivory soap, Tide, Crest, Crisco and Pampers. Exposing a corporate mindset which produces stilted, cookie-cutter executives, she traces many problems to CEO Ed Artzt, a workaholic whose hero is Attila the Hun. Swasy examines allegations that P&G continued to market Rely tampons in 1980 when they knew they caused toxic shock syndrome, resulting in several women's deaths. Other horror stories include the use of animals in lab tests; the firm's retaliation against those who protested its pollution of the Fenholloway River in Florida and discussion of P&G's involvement in the politics of El Salvador. Swasy also charges that P&G put her under surveillance and monitored her phone records. Sometimes the author seems to be grinding an axe, repeatedly using phases like "he felt he was being watched" without offering solid evidence. Although the thorough negativeness makes it hard to believe any corporation could be this devious, the book remains a chilling look at the corporation as Big Brother. BOMC and Fortune Book Club selections; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Wall Street Journal reporter Swasy was, she tell us, spied upon, followed, and bugged while writing this admirable--if ultimately somewhat disappointing--history of the dark side of Ivory-soap and Tide manufacturer Proctor & Gamble. According to hundreds of interviews Swasy conducted with current and former P&G managers, contractors, and company watchdogs, P&G--a founder of the national brand name and a pillar of Cincinnati civic life since 1837--turns out to be a paranoid corporate strongman obsessed with controlling the lives of its employees and preserving the sacrosanct reputation of its brands. In chapters devoted, respectively, to the single-minded career of CEO Ed Artzt, to racism and sexism at headquarters, to totalitarian demands for worker loyalty, to hushed-up environmental debacles in P&G plants around the nation, and, finally, to the ruthless marketing here and abroad of brands--including Crest, Pampers, Tide, and, most notoriously, Rely tampons (which were responsible for a number of deaths in the toxic-shock syndrome scandal of the 1970's), Swasy thoroughly dismantles P&G's wholesome image. The documentation of various kinds of corporate malfeasance--including the well-publicized but still shocking episode in which P&G persuaded friendly local county law-enforcement officials secretly to search the private phone records of hundreds of P&G employees, looking for calls to Swasy's Pittsburgh phone after an unfavorable story by her appeared in The Wall Street Journal--is heroic. But the cumulative tale isn't shapely enough to stand on its own as a cautionary story, and Swasy is too close to it to ask what it tells us about corporate America today. For all Swasy's careful work, the book finally has a little ring of an author's rant. Must reading, however, for company watchers, P&G shareholders, curious consumers, and citizens of Cincinnati. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.