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The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Modern Library Chronicles) Paperback – January 11, 2005
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“Remarkable . . . True believers in the free market faith and heretics alike will profit from knowing this history.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“A swashbuckling journey through the past and into the future of the modern company.”
–Los Angeles Times
The authors take up [the corporation’s] tale with brio and wit . . . . Worthwhile for almost anyone with an interest in the subject.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“The limited-liability joint-stock company is a very marvel of the modern world economy, a historical force to rival religions, monarchies, and even states. The Company tells the colorful story of its birth and maturation—and its pervasive social and cultural consequences—with rare concision and flair.”
—David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom from Fear and professor of history at Stanford University
“A fascinating and delightful investigation both of how the guilds and ‘corporate persons’ of the Middle Ages turned into the institution from which so many people today directly and indirectly earn their daily bread and of the issues facing the company in the twenty-first century.”
—Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize and coauthor of The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy
From the Inside Flap
Like all groundbreaking books, The Company fills a hole we didn't know existed, revealing that we cannot make sense of the past four hundred years until we place that seemingly humble Victorian innovation, the joint-stock company, in the center of the frame.
With their trademark authority and wit, Economist editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge reveal the company to be one of history's great catalysts, for good and for ill, a mighty engine for sucking in, recombining, and pumping out money, goods, people, and culture to every corner of the globe. What other earthly invention has the power to grow to any size, and to live to any age? What else could have given us both the stock market and the British Empire? The company man, the company town, and company time? Disneyfication and McDonald'sization, to say nothing of Coca-colonialism? Through its many mutations, the company has always incited controversy, and governments have always fought to rein it in. Today, though Marx may spin in his grave and anarchists riot in the streets, the company exercises an unparalleled influence on the globe, and understanding what this creature is and where it comes from has never been a more pressing matter. To the rescue come these acclaimed authors, with a short volume of truly vast range and insight.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Item Weight : 7.5 ounces
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780812972870
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812972870
- Dimensions : 5.15 x 0.61 x 7.99 inches
- Publisher : Modern Library; Reprint edition (January 11, 2005)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0812972872
- Best Sellers Rank: #594,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Not only does the book tackle fertile and under-covered territory, but it's got the right authors, too. Micklethwait and Wooldridge are editors at The Economist, truly one of the most clear-headed periodicals out there. To be fair to these guys, they answer all of the questions I posed in the first paragraph and they do it in interesting style too. They bring up pertinent facts, interesting viewpoints and penetrating questions.
So why not five stars?
Because it barely scratches the surface of the topic it covers. You find yourself reading one thing after another that you'd like to know a lot more about, but then find yourself moving on to a new topic without having your thirst for knowledge about the last topic even mildly quenched.
Perhaps that's all right. The book claims in its own title to be a short history. It can serve as a quick introduction to a number of different topics that a reader can dig into more deeply if the spirit moves them. Further, maybe this book will serve as the call for other qualified authors and historians to focus some attention on this under-covered area of economics and history.
I hope it does, but this book kept leaving me wanting at least a little more on every topic it touched. Recommended, but be prepared to feel like your being rushed through a tour of a museum that you'd really like to spend some time in.
Hats off to Micklethwait and Wooldridge for making one point clearly: the company is the single greatest engine of wealth (of all kinds) we have in the modern world, and that forgetting that could be tragic.
Top reviews from other countries
The last half drags a little, compared to the tightly-written first two-thirds, mostly because it's too focussed on particular events in modern times. Also the book focusses on US/UK rather than the world as a whole. This latter neglect is a reasonable choice, and works well.
Over all, I highly recommend this book: I don't know of any competition that approaches the well-referenced confidence that it brings to the topic.