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Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street Paperback – August 12, 2014
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“More than two decades after Warren [Buffett] lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read . . . Brooks’s deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then.” —Bill Gates, The Wall Street Journal
“The prose is superb. Reading Brooks is a supreme pleasure. His writing turns potentially eye-glazing topics (e.g., price-fixing scandals in the industrial electronics market) into rollicking narratives. He’s also funny. . . . He tells entertaining stories replete with richly drawn characters, setting them during heightened moments within the world of commerce.” —Slate
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Top customer reviews
This book makes me feel as though I'm sitting at the knee of my grandfather, listening to wise recollections.
A writer of articles in the 1950's and 1960, many for the New Yorker, the author intelligently and thoughtfully steps through 12 events, one per chapter.
At first I thought perhaps I was particularly dense and wasn't getting the message. What held these stories together? Eventually, I realized that the author is not driving home a point, selling anything, or giving advice. His observations leave room for the reader to consider events, their connections, their parallels to today, the importance of character, and the question of morality in business. It was refreshing not to be told what to think.
I enjoyed the stories of Ford's Edsel, Piggly Wiggly, Xerox, Goodrich vs Latex.
The chapter on the federal income tax is particularly relevant, given the wide-spread debate about taxes and modern conversations about the 1%.
John Brooks' perspective is firmly rooted in the past, when the book was written, and provides readers opportunity for a sense of omniscience since we can consider ramifications the author himself could not be aware of, at that time.
Times may change. People do not.
For the most part, I found this book to be quite an interesting look at various business and financial stories. The author is quite thorough in his descriptions and also looks at several of the people involved. In some cases, he seems to have actually interviewed several of the individuals involved in these stories.
The only real criticism I have is that the twelfth story, covering attempts by bankers to save the British pound in the 1960s, was extremely long-winded and somewhat difficult to follow.
Overall, I thought this book was a good look at some interesting stories from the business world. I would recommend this book to those interested in business.
This book casts a wide net over the USAmerican business and investing scene, always with with and insight. There's a lot to be learned here, as Brooks examines the three-day stock market mini-crash of 1962, how Ford lost a bundle on the Edsel, how GE broke the anti-trust laws, how Xerox became very wealthy (later, Xerox became very broke, but that was after this article) . . . all great stuff.
Rereading these after forty years, I'm impressed with Brooks ability to get to the bottom of things, especially when there is no "bottom". Why did the New York Stock exchange lose over 5% one day in 1962, then rally suddenly? No one really knows, but Brooks examines the chaos of that day, and dissects the explanations offered after the fact — while noting that BEFORE the fact, none of the explainers had a clue what was about to happen. Interspersed are comments from THE first book ever written on stock markets, "Confusion of Confusions", by Josseph Penso de la Vega (no product link; apparently Amazon doesn't want to use its reviews to sell books other than the one being reviewed anymore). Brooks demonstrates how little has changed over the centuries.
And so it goes through the rest of the essays. Facts and insight, presented with wit, charm, and grace. Highly recommended.