Customer Review

46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex, complete and compelling story of business, October 29, 2010
This review is from: The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Borzoi Books) (Hardcover)
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The Master Switch is part history, business theory and technology presented in a clear and enjoyable read. This is neither a business book, nor a history book, nor a novel but it has the best elements of all three. Some advice for the reader, be prepared to read a book about business information and technology this is deep, complex, expansive and thoroughly enjoyable.

Wu demonstrates throughout the book his ability to research and capture the historical events that led to the world we have today and present them more like James Michener than a dry recitation. The details and descriptions led me to feel like I was reading a historical novel more than a business book. Yet all of the conversation revolves round issues of information, technology and business ownership of it.

Wu demonstrates his business thinking through the book and research findings. This is a business book as it discusses how information and new technologies often start out as an explosion of small companies that coalesce into a few dominate firms that then often explode into smaller more innovative companies. Those ideas, the decisions and actions behind them are the context that gives the business history context.

The Master Switch is a rare combination of history, theory and technology. People looking to read the book from one of these perspectives will either be delighted or deeply disappointed. As a history, the book is a delight as I learned things I never knew before. As a business book, one with a very clear argument, sequential prose and an explicit `bottom line' this book suffers because it meanders through the history parts. Readers looking for a business book should reset their expectations and get the Master Switch. Reset their expectations from the perspective that rather than loading your brain with `programmed' messages, it may be better to get a broader perspective that will let you think through these critical issues. Setting your expectation to read something enjoyable, informative and comprehensive and you will not be disappointed.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 20, 2010 9:50:43 PM PST
Sounds like something I might enjoy. I am a bit confused though. You say it is "neither a business book, nor a history book, nor a novel but it has the best elements of all three." I've always thought of a novel as non-fiction. I could be wrong. At any rate is this book completely non-fiction or part historical fiction?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2010 6:55:30 AM PST
xroads, thanks for your comment. The book is non-fiction but rather than telling a largely procedural story of this happened, then this, then this, Wu weaves history and his themes about the development of technology together to make a unique read. So if you are looking for a strict historical book, then this is not it. Rather it is a book that explains the development of information and technology through a theory based on a cycle of invention, monopoly and then exploding into open innovation and uses the story of AT&T to illustrate the theory. That is what makes it unique, you can read it for the theory or read it to understand the story of AT&T in a particular context.

Hope that helps

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2010 7:51:59 AM PST
Hey Mark, Thanks I see what your saying. I bought the book from Audible and have begun listening. I'm about 3 hours into the book and am enjoying it.
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Mark P. McDonald
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Chicago, IL United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,245