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Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 31, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-San Francisco Chronicle
"An insightful and entertaining, behind-the-scenes glimpse at a powerful institution."
" What makes this a particularly absorbing and entertaining read is the combination of journalistic detachment and the sense of personal alienation that Delves Broughton, a Brit in an American system, feels as he struggles to come to terms with what it means to be a Harvard MBA."
-Financial Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
What the book is instead is a rather touching introspective memoir on Philip's personal experience at HBS as an outsider - someone who, because of his age, career background, nationality, but most of all personality did not fit into the traditional HBS mold. Despite that, the reader comes away clear on the fact that Philip learned a great deal from HBS, respects its educational method tremendously, made some very good friends, and overall came away a bigger person after it. I want to elaborate on that last point - Philip was already a fully formed individual before coming to HBS: a father, a husband, a successful journalist, a well-traveled man. To feel growth after HBS, where the average age is ~5 years younger and the average experience is much more junior is a BIG DEAL.
The book really has two elements to it. One is a witty description of the HBS stereotypes, fun stories about interactions, and, ultimately, a fascinating tale of what it's like to be immersed into the HBS experience. The second (one that I didn't find as exciting having gone there) is a reasonably in-depth description of the cases and educational method.Read more ›
I attended Harvard Business School while in law school many years ago. I was surprised to find out how many things are similar to when I attended. The student complaints were similar, too.
I thought that Mr. Broughton did an excellent job of explaining what the case system is all about and what occurs in preparing for and during a class. If you've always wanted to go to HBS, here's a chance to take a peek.
The book's strength is in exposing the values behind HBS, people seeking the highest-paying jobs despite the personal cost to family life and one's own soul. Mr. Broughton made some half-hearted attempts to seek out such opportunities, but ended his two years at Harvard with a large loan to show for the experience . . . and no job.
The book's weakness comes in Mr. Broughton's desire to teach you some of the basic concepts about business management. I doubt if you are interested. He doesn't always get it right, either.
I found myself comparing Ahead of the Curve to One L, Scott Turow's brilliant description of the bad old days of being a first-year law student at Harvard. One L is a better book. But both are powerful in explaining what it feels like to be a student in the middle of the gigantic forces moving to shape you like a vise into a new form that will be attractive to employers.
And yet... whenever he writes about something I know about, he is DEAD wrong. Since I was never a Harvard MBA student I wonder whether his depictions of places and events of which he is supposed to be more familiar are any more accurate.
Let me give 3 examples. In his dismissive account of a visit to Silicon Valley (pp 120-21) he writes "Up in the hills were town such as Palo Alto, Woodside, and Atherton..." The housing in Palo Alto & Atherton is not up in hills. It's on the flatlands skirting the San Francisco Bay, at most 100 feet above the water. In fact the city data at [...] has it located 23 feet above sea level, hardly "up in the hills".
Of his visit to Google he writes "Google's headquarters was a sprawling glass and metal complex originally built for Netscape" (pp 219). No, it wasn't. It's previous tenant was Silicon Graphics (SGI). Netscape was never in the building. There is a *tenuous* connection -- Jim Clarke, a founder of SGI, left and later founded Netscape among other companies. But Clarke left SGI long before SGI even erected the complex (and then immediately cratered as a going business). But if this sentence exemplifies the depth of his research and the accuracy of his reporting, what in the book can you trust?
In recounting a talk by Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, he writes that Dan recommended they ditch their copies of books about entrepreneurs recommended by the faculty and "read 'One Smart Cookie', the biography of Debbi Fields, the founder of Mrs. Fields cookies (pp 238).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great first hand perspective on what you can get from a Harvard MBA.Published 4 months ago by Andy
As bureau chief of the daily telegraph's Paris Office, Philip Broughton was a talented writer before he went to HBS, and it shows. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Matthew R. Heusser
Really enjoyed this view into HBS! Great combination of daily activity on campus and in classes with real world business concepts.Published 14 months ago by T. Siddiqi
Interesting divide is Harvard molding company leaders vs world leaders. And do leaders really listen. Good insights from both outside and inside.Published 15 months ago by Reds
Brings back memories when I was an MBA student. Great read!Published 16 months ago by Vintage Gibson
After getting an MBA myself, I decided to grab this book which was mentioned several times by our HR professor during the MBA classes. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Cristian Guajardo Garcia
I consider this book "good", but not remarkable, I start reading with a lot of enthusiastic, especially the first chapters, but at the end I feel a little tired about the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jorge Aquije
Part memoir, part business education, the author shares his experience at HBS in this entertaining and well-written book. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jerry Sanchez
Excellent conversational tone. Looking forward to reading other works by this author.Published 20 months ago by Warren