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Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591841395
ISBN-10: 1591841399
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this highly readable but deliberately paced biography, Harvard professor and historian Tedlow (Giants of Enterprise) makes a case for Andy Grove (b. 1936) taking a place alongside Benjamin Franklin as a quintessential American businessman and citizen. Indeed, Grove rose from being a penniless Hungarian refugee to an engineer hired as Intel's third employee, eventually heading the corporation—"one of the most profitable companies in all of business history." Tedlow builds the book around a year-by-year, blow-by-blow account of Intel's ups and downs, punctuated by Grove's contemporaneous musings, drawn from his private notebooks. Following the company over the rocky patches in its trajectory from semiconductors to microprocessors, Tedlow situates Intel among its industry partners and competitors. Sometimes, there's too much context: the author conveys a good deal about Hungary's modern political history and scrutinizes every available scrap of information about his subject's childhood. There are also 20 pages on the 1994 Pentium "floating point flaw" debacle and 15 pages on Grove's battle with prostate cancer. But as a biography of Intel as well as a primer on Grove's writings and management philosophy, the book is truly illuminating. In offering a closeup portrait of this prickly but gifted executive, Tedlow helps us understand why Grove's tenure as Intel's CEO "was so spectacularly successful." (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Tedlow, a business historian and academic, presents the story of Andy Grove, a penniless Hungarian immigrant who became an icon of twentieth-century corporate America. Grove joined Intel in 1968 at its founding, and while he was CEO from 1987 to 1998, "market capitalization increased from $4.3 billion to $197.6 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 42% and a total increase of almost 4,500%." Grove led the company with Intel's 386 microprocessor, which became the industry standard. Tedlow describes Grove, Time magazine's 1997 man of the year, as an extraordinary manager, author, and significant player in the fights against prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease. With unique access to Grove and Intel's internal resources and documents, Tedlow claims objectivity, telling the truth as he sees it in this laudatory narrative, although he also confirms his close ties to the subject. In comparing Grove to Benjamin Franklin (among other notables), Tedlow tells us that the two share the traits of "care and skill at image management." Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841395
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While reading and then reviewing most of Richard Tedlow's previous books, I was soon convinced that he is a cultural anthropologist as well as a business historian. With consummate skill, he creates a richly textured context within which he analyzes various corporate executives such as Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Robert Noyce, both Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and Jr., Charles Revson, and Sam Walton. His talents are comparable with those of Joseph J. Ellis and David McCullough. As he explains in the introduction to this book, he interviewed dozens of people about the life and times of Andy Grove, asking each "What would make this book a page-turner for you?" Here are three responses:

"I want to know how he thinks."

"I want to know how all these decisions really did get made."

"I want to know all the stuff that he won't tell you about."

Tedlow provides answers to these and other questions as he rigorously examines "the life and times of an American" who was born András István Gróf in Hungary (in 1936), to a middle-class Jewish family. In 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution, he left his home and family under the cover of night, immigrating to the United States, and arriving in New York in 1957. He then earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the City College of New York and then, after settling in California, he received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963. After working at Fairchild Semiconductor, Grove accepted Gordon Moore's invitation to become the third employee at a start-up, Intel Corporation (Integrated Electronics), of which he eventually became president in 1979, its CEO in 1987, and its chairman and CEO in 1997.
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Format: Hardcover
In Mukul Pandya and Robbie Shell's profile of the top 25 business leaders today, "Lasting Leadership", they cite one above all others, Intel's CEO Andy Grove. The one chapter on Grove (appropriately entitled "Best of the Best") certainly whet my appetite for Harvard Business School professor and historian Richard Tedlow's full-fledged biography, which turns out to be not only a thoughtful profile of Grove but also a fascinating historical overview of the technology industry. How these two aspects intertwine provides the most provocative parts of the book, in particular, how Grove's visionary acumen anticipated the growing demand for instant information and how the personal computer was to become a mandatory household and office item.

Nonetheless, the more personal story behind Grove will interest many readers since his background reflects a remarkable transformation under the most adverse of circumstances. Born a Jew in 1936 Nazi-occupied Hungary when anti-Semitic laws were being fully enforced, Grove managed to survive not only the Nazi regime but the post-WWII Communist takeover. During the bloody Hungarian Revolution, he left his family and escaped to the U.S. when he was twenty. Penniless, he worked his way to a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Berkeley in 1963. He worked his way up from Fairchild Semiconductors, where they introduced the first integrated circuit, to become the fourth employee of Intel and begin an impressive upward climb.

This is where Tedlow provides sharp insight into Grove's clever navigation though Intel's management structure under co-founders Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce, and more importantly, how Grove became an acknowledged leader in Silicon Valley for his groundbreaking thinking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book that every businessman confronted with the problems of rapid change needs to read. Intel the giant technology company is Andy Grove, and Andy Grove is Intel. More than any other single individual, Grove left his footprint on this company. He started off as Intel's 3rd hire; the first two were Gordon Moore, and Bob Noyce, two other Silicon Valley legends. By the time Grove was finished there were tens of thousands of employees.

You might recall that Gordon Moore, Andy's mentor is the creator of the famous "Moore's Law". There are many variations of Moore's Law, and Moore never called it a law by the way. Essentially it means that the computer power that can be placed on a chip doubles every 18 months, some say 2 years, and the cost drops by half. The law has basically held up since its inception in 1965.

Richard Tedlow, the author is a full Professor at Harvard Business School. He has obviously put his heart and soul into this book. Andy Grove did not read this book until it was finished, and published. He did not want to get into a shoot-out about what was in the book. You might recall that Grove wrote several books himself. One of them had the great title, "Only the Paranoid Survive". I believe this biography is better than the books Grove wrote.

Grove has stated that the author knows more about him, than he knows about himself. Upon reading the book, Grove could not figure out how the author was able to obtain so much information about him. In the end, this is what an author is supposed to do, isn't it? The vital concepts that I took out of Tedlow's writings are:

1) Here's a man that should have died three times before he got to America.
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