From Publishers Weekly
Transforming family-owned Haloid Corp., which struggled in the shadow of hometown behemoth Eastman Kodak, into the globally recognized Xerox is an amazing accomplishment. But as Ellis's biography of Joe Wilson attests, Wilson's achievements ranged more widely and went much deeper than many gave him credit for. Ellis, author of 11 books and former financial industry consultant offers a heartfelt, if not artful, telling of the CEO's life story. He contends that Wilson embodied all of the qualities that leadership management books celebrate: integrity, foresight and the ability to inspire people to perform. He credits these attributes to helping Wilson so spectacularly realize his vision for his company; its employees; his alma mater, the University of Rochester; and the city and people of Rochester, N.Y. Ellis's telling starts off slow and is initially quite repetitive. But once Xerox is finally born, after years of setbacks, the story picks up. The real purpose for the detailed buildup appears toward the end, when credit for the last 20-odd years of corporate strife and ultimate success is given to the wrong person, Wilson's best friend and the company's corporate counsel. At that point, it becomes clear why Ellis was compelled to write this book so long after the company's rise and its true founder's demise. (Sept.)
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In Copies in Seconds
(2005) David Owen told the story of Chester Carlson, the lone inventor of the Xerox machine. Here, Ellis creates a portrait of Joe Wilson (1909-71), the CEO of Xerox, who took the invention to fruition. An even-tempered man with impeccable values and enormous patience, Wilson took on an incredible risk backing a completely untested technology, which paid off only after decades of tireless work. When office workers embraced the technology, copying everything in sight, the Xerox copy machine became one of the most lucrative inventions of the twentieth century. But Wilson wasn't just about making money; he was one of the first business leaders to become personally involved in civil rights, hiring African American workers when most other companies effectively locked them out of jobs. Wilson remained humble even as others around him took credit for Xerox's success, and he passed on quietly just as the company began to lose its way. Ellis' account is a shining example of how honest and compassionate leadership can create profits and benefit the community at the same time. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved