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Succeeding Against the Odds: The Autobiography of a Great American Businessman Paperback – October 1, 1992


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Succeeding Against the Odds: The Autobiography of a Great American Businessman + Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire + How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making It in America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. (October 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567430023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567430028
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Black multimillionaire Johnson, assisted by Bennett, executive editor of Ebony magazine, recounts with simplicity, zest and humorous anecdotes how, as a 24-year-old from a small Mississippi River town, he parlayed a $500 loan into a publishing, cosmetics and insurance empire. Negro Digest , the first magazine he founded, was followed by Ebony (the first national black publication) and Jet . Thanks to success brought about by his sound social, business and political instincts, Johnson now enjoys a life spent "going first class," including owning a Palm Springs mountain-top home; participating in corporate board meetings (where he is accustomed to being the only black); and hobnobbing with the likes of Michael and Jesse Jackson and Gorbachev. Credited by some with "inventing" the black consumer market, Johnson is proudest of his role in reporting and abetting the crusade of Martin Luther King Jr. And despite his successes, he contends, without bitterness, that his millions could have been billions were it not for the "live wire of race." Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

According to Forbes magazine, Johnson is one of the 400 richest Americans. He is CEO of the Johnson Publishing Company, rated among the top 100 African-American-owned businesses. Born into poverty, Johnson was 15 years old when he moved from Arkansas City to Chicago. There he discovered the vast untapped potential of the black consumer marketplace, and in 1942, 24-year-old Johnson created his first magazine, Negro Digest , a phenomenal success soon followed by Ebony and Jet . By expanding into broadcasting, TV production, and cosmetics, Johnson has helped his company maintain a strong balance sheet. He has also held numerous diplomatic posts. Bennett, executive editor of Ebony, helps Johnson present his story within the broader context of post-World War II America. Highly recommended for most libraries. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates.
- Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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In general I really love to read autobiographies and biographies.
Charmina
One that told stories, positive stories about our lives, our heroes, and our history.
Jeffrey Alexander Brathwaite
John H.Johnson is a true Pioneer who trail-blazed so much for the better.
MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read the hardcover edition of this book when it first came out. I was in need of and searching for some means to act on all the success and motivation material I had read and listened to before SUCCEEDING AGAINST THE ODDS. To have read how Mr. Johnson worked his way up like so many other successful people, regardless of their skin color, continues to encourage me as I work toward my vision of success. Mr. Johnson endured criticism, overcame obstacles, struggled, and bided his time to achieve his successes. That he achieved despite the prejudice and racism of his time and got help from a few non-African Americans, as well as his own people, attests to his influence, power, and charisma. As an American of Asian descent, I still identify with his coming from destitute circumstances which he rose out of to become the publishing magnate he is and advisor and confidante he had been at the executive level of our nation's government a decade or two ago. Well worth staying up into the early morning hours before a workday to realize that there are no real obstacles to success, only temporary distractions to recognize and disregard.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Alexander Brathwaite on June 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book uplifted the self esteem of me and many other African Americans. It was the story of a black man raised in rural Arkansas who had a dream. He figured out at an early age that African Americans wanted to know about what was happening in their community. There where only so many if any stories about us in Life Magazine. And if they did publish something about us it was negative. Why couldn't African Americans have a magazine of their own? One that told stories, positive stories about our lives, our heroes, and our history. This book gave me hope to know that even a lower middle class, African American boy from the Bronx like myself could grow up and strive for greatness amongst our people and the rest of society. John H. Johnson's publications are over 50 years old now and are still giving us stories that uplift our minds, bodies and spirits. Reading this book is not only a joy and a honor but it should be required reading for all African Americans and focal point of reading for all others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read the hardcover edition of this book when it first came out. I was in need of and searching for some means to act on all the success and motivation material I had read and listened to before SUCCEEDING AGAINST THE ODDS. To have read how Mr. Johnson worked his way up like so many other successful people, regardless of their skin color, continues to encourage me as I work toward my vision of success. Mr. Johnson endured criticism, overcame obstacles, struggled, and bided his time to achieve his successes. That he achieved despite the prejudice and racism of his time and got help from a few non-African Americans, as well as his own people, attests to his influence, power, and charisma. As an American of Asian descent, I still identify with his coming from destitute circumstances which he rose out of to become the publishing magnate he is and advisor and confidante he had been at the executive level of our nation's government a decade or two ago. Well worth staying up into the early morning hours before a workday to realize that there are no real obstacles to success, only temporary distractions to recognize and disregard.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Scott Proctor VINE VOICE on July 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
In his book, Johnson states "There is an advantage in every disadvantage, and a gift in every problem" and "I believe that the greater the handicap the greater the triumph." By this he means to say that disadvantage creates opportunities and forces one to do more with less. He believed that disadvantages were "...challenges to be overcome and not facts to be accepted." A disadvantage provides a challenge that, with the proper motivation and mindset, forces one to try a little harder and work a little smarter.
Two distinct disadvantages that Johnson cites are early in his life: 1) Arkansas City (his birthplace) did not provide a high school education for African Americans, and 2) The economic depression stemming from the Great Depression. These two disadvantages, when taken together, provided a sort of "critical mass" that propelled Johnson on the trajectory that is his story -- his move to Chicago and subsequent business endeavors.
The fact that the disadvantages cited above were realized so early in life is worth note. There is a scientific discipline known as "Chaos Theory" that, among other precepts, states that the time evolution of a series of interrelated complex events is extremely sensitive to the system's initial condition. The analogy that may be drawn to Johnson's life is this: had he not moved to Chicago due to his ambition and his Mother's tremendous sacrifices for her son's education, it would have become increasingly difficult for Johnson to have succeeded to the extent he did, as chronicled in his autobiography.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 1996
Format: Paperback
I read this book when it was first released. I was a stugling college
student at the time and in need of guidance. This book set the tone
for my success. It lifted me up in ways no other book has with
its true to life realism. Mr. Johnson is a true role model,
not only for people of African American decent but for all. As an African
American male it taught me just how much I need to be thankful for the
trials and tribulations my for fathers endured to allow me to do
what I am doing today. It let me know that I exist because of men
like Mr. Johnson who laid the ground work for me to become my own
success story and that even in today's world I have nothing to complain
about. I recomend this book highly and hope one day to meet Mr. Johnson
and thank him for giving me the right to dream.
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