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The Puritan Gift: Triumph, Collapse and Revival of an American Dream Hardcover – April 15, 2007

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Kenneth Hopper is certainly one of the most eloquent, and credible voices being raised on this issue."--Robert Hayes, Harvard University
"A goldmine of information."--Myron Tribus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen Evans, as presenter of BBC Business Daily, has selected this book as a 'must read of the year' for 2007.

"A very thought-provoking and readable book."--Linda Hesselman, Management Studies Centre, University College, London
"A stunning triumph . . . An important new contribution to the academic study of management." --Professor Peter Kawalek, Manchester Business School
"The best thing about The Puritan Gift is that it is a real book, full of fascinating insights, intellectual rigour and challenging, authoritative arguments that remind us that there is nothing new about the responsibilities of management." - Richard Donkin, Financial Times

‘In The Puritan Gift, published last year, the septuagenarian Scottish brothers William and Kenneth Hopper, respectively a banker and an engineer-turned-industrial consultant, argued that for 200 years the puritan foundations of America kept its businesses intact, emphasising craft, financial responsibility and the sublimation of  private interest to the group.’  - Andrew Billen, TIMES, 9th March 2009

About the Author

Kenneth Hopper has been active for 50 years as a writer on industrial affairs and a consultant in both the U.S. and Europe. William Hopper has spent his career in investment banking in New York and London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris (April 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1850434190
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850434191
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By David Howard on May 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The future reform of western management will in no small part be dependent upon how carefully business leaders and academics study this remarkable book by the co-authors brothers Hopper - a unique teaming of engineering and financial minds that understand (and so ably communicate) the socio-technical forces that have shaped our commercialized society. The combined insights and experience of a life-long professional engineer and a still practicing investment banker combine in this book to cast a powerful analytical spotlight on the history of western management practice over the past 350 years. While the locus of the book is on American management cultures, the fundamental messages revealed are shown to be applicable to any culture intent on real wealth creation as opposed to mere financial engineering.

As the title suggests, this story - for this is no dry text destined for those soulless time-serving senior managers and executives intent on seeking the latest snake oil with which to lubricate their legitimized theft of shareholder funds - traces the origins of contemporary management back to the strict disciplines of the Puritan Migrants of the 1630s and their flight to America. The authors list the four abiding aspects of Puritanism which infused the managerial culture established by the descendents of those early settlers as being: 1) the purpose of life was to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth; 2) an aptitude for mechanical skills; 3) a moral outlook that subordinates the interest of the individual to the group; and, 4) an ability to gather, galvanize and marshal financial, material and human resources to a single purpose at whatever scale. More briefly put : Rectitude, Pragmatism, Teamwork and Leadership.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gary E. Hoover on May 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. Whether you agree with all of it or not -- and when was the last time a thinking person agreed 100% with any book? -- it will make you think.

All the greatness of American (and world) business has been around for ages, and we just need to get back to basics, back to the roots. Any study of the great businesses and entrepreneurs teaches this lesson. The Hoppers do an excellent job of raising this idea, with plenty of great stories to support it.

It is surprising that the publishers do not get this book into bigtime US circulation. While written by Brits, it is after all a book about the rise and fall of American business and economic prestige. It should be on the "hot" table in all the US bookstores. But in order to get it quickly you have to go to amazon UK. What gives?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Savage on May 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Hoppers' book should be a page-turner for people interested in 20th century business. From his personal experience, Ken Hopper, an industrial consultant, has culled thousands of facts and distilled them into a package of wit and wisdom that many academics would envy. Virtually every page in the first half of the book has some new insight into how American manufacturing came to lead the world, to transform Japan (and through it, much of Asia), and go astray. While other publications have made use of his comments on salary ratios, this reviewer found his focus on the role of shop-floor leaders and problem-solvers to be an important contribution to the literature. The critique of the "B-school" mentality, while common these days, was prescient in the late 20th century. Finally, while not ignoring W E Deming's work, Hopper brings into focus the important contributions of the other engineers on the CCS team that worked under General MacArthur: Sarasohn, Protzman, and Polkinghorn. The second half of the book blends in material drawing on the in-depth experience of William Hopper, an investment banker. From this reviewer's perspective as a college instructor and retired business person, the brothers Hopper contribute a lucid, humanistic overview of American business's successes and challenges which should be of interest to the general reader as well as the specialist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Moore on November 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It is for very good reason The Financial Times named this one of the ten best business books of 2007. It's not unusual in these times to find morality, or the lack of the traditional type on which America was built to be more precise, at the root of Wall Street's problems. But the Hoppers find it's at the root of the problems at General Motors and other once-great manufacturing companies, NASA and so on.

In essence, while the Puritan ethic once subordinated the interests of our managers to the interests of stakeholders--or employees, customers, vendors and so on--the "cult of the (so-called) expert" as the Hoppers call it, has reversed those interests since the 1960's. While managers once humbly listened to employees close to the product, they now manage from afar by listening to financial statements.

The Hoppers skillfully trace that movement from business gurus through our companies and into the business schools they endow for future managers. They then show how each entity has its own interest in inverting the Puritan ethic. Finally, they show how to restore the ethic that made American business--and even government--the envy of the world that it once was.

Any student pursuing a MBA or manager with a MBA should hestitate to call himself or herself educated, or consider himself or herself prepared to manage, until he or she reads this irreverent and fascinating if humbling book.
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