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Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built Hardcover – November 13, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Business historian Tedlow (Harvard Business Sch.) presents seven magnates in a historical context that reflects the growth of the United States as an economic power from the mid-1800s to the latter part of the 20th century. Presenting biographical essays divided chronologically into three sections, he first discusses Andrew Carnegie (U.S. Steel), George Eastman (Kodak), and Henry Ford (automobiles) and their contributions to the emergence of America as an economic force. The founding of IBM by Thomas Watson Sr. in 1924 and Revlon by Charles Revson in 1932 are then used to highlight technological leadership and marketing, respectively. The leadership, management, and determination of Robert Noyce (Intel) and Sam Walton (WalMart) demonstrate the success of entrepreneurs in recent times. Each essay concerns the central figure and his contribution, personal attributes and faults, family, close associates, and a history of the specific industry and American society at the time. Well-documented and very readable, this compendium is a good addition to academic and large public libraries. Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In today's market of dot-com dysfunction, maybe it is good to take a look back in history to learn how other businessmen and businesses started and stayed around long enough to succeed. As in his other books, Tedlow takes a penetrating look at the history of business by examining seven leaders--Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Thomas J. Watson Sr., Charles Revson, Sam Walton, and Robert Noyce--who had the power to control business and affect the fates of others. Tedlow explains how they did it and analyzes why they did it, and he examines how they sometimes defied laws and conventions, set trends, created new business philosophies, and pushed forward to succeed. This is an interesting, cautionary tale for those in business, taking the reader through the beginnings of entrepreneurship and the realization of innovative, hard-edged business practices, such as brand marketing and mass production, that have played a role in defining the U.S. as the land of opportunity. Eileen Hardy
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; 1St Edition edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006662035X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066620350
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tedlow provides a brilliant analysis of each of his subjects in combination with a wealth of biographical information which creates an appropriate context for his discussion of Carnegie, Eastman, Ford, Watson (Sr.), Revson, Walton, and Noyce. He organizes his material within three Parts: The Rise to Global Economic Power, The Heart of the American Century, and Our Own Times. So what we have here, in a single volume, are eight mini-biographies, critical analysis of the "giants," and an equally valuable analysis of the evolution of American business history during the last 150 years. Although not always in agreement with Tedlow, I especially appreciate sharing his own opinions. He cites a wealth of primary sources and on occasion expresses his own disagreements with others such as Joseph Frazier Wall, author of arguably the definitive biography of Andrew Carnegie. Tedlow has consummate writing skills. His narrative has Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Throughout the book, he offers hundreds of revealing anecdotes, direct quotations, relevant examples to illustrate and support key points, and -- much appreciated -- a playful sense of humor. Tedlow really is an entertaining raconteur as well as a distinguished business scholar.
This is one of the most entertaining as well as most informative business books I have read in recent years. Those who share my high regard for it are urged to check out Crainer's The Management Century, Thought Leaders edited by Kurtzman, Wren and Greenwood's Management Innovators, Leibovich's The New Imperialists, and Landrum's Profiles of Genius.
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Format: Hardcover
In Giants of Enterprise, Harvard professor Richard Tedlow examines seven business titans: Henry Ford, Thomas Watson, Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Charles Revson, Robert Noyce, and Sam Walton. He analyzes their business acumen, their management style, their interpersonal style, and the business environment in which they operated.
Henry Ford and Thomas Watson, Sr., of IBM, are examples of domineering, manipulative men who built extraordinary business empires in spite of their abrasive personalities. The were not leaders in the classical definition of James MacGregor Burns because they systematically crushed individuality in their employees rather than cultivate it. They drove a lot of good people away, and stunted the growth of many more.
Still, their businesses experienced exceptional periods of prosperity, and they have lasted for several generations.
Two of the seven titans valued people. Eastman and Noyce were leaders. Eastman empowered people. He told chemist Charles Mees, "your job is the future of photography." Eastman hired women and Irish people-these were enlightened practices in the late 1800s. He questioned his own management expertise, and sought advice from professionals.
Noyce is known for his slogan, "Go off and do something wonderful." His employees had it printed on tee shirts. Noyce had an ability to create in people a "euphoric sense of possibility," and he nurtured talent when he found it.
Giants of Enterprise provides informative short biographies of each of the seven business icons. It is valuable reading for both the student of leadership and the practicing executive. For the student, it shows that organizations are often held together by forces other than leadership.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My reading about business is usually limited to the business section of the daily paper, but when I read that Business Week Magazine has named Giants of Enterprise as one of the top ten books about business for this year, I was intrigued enough to have a look at it. Once I began reading, I didn't want to stop! Tedlow's prose is engaging and elegant; he obviously knows his subject thoroughly. As I read about these immensely complicated men, I was amazed by the audacity, creativity, and cunning they showed in their dealings with the world of business. Equally interesting are the glimpses into the personal lives of such figures as Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, and Henry Ford. This book is about American history as well as the history of business; it has also made me realize that there is such a thing as the psychology of business, although in this field, it is probably as tricky to analyze and try to predict outcomes as it is in the field of economics. I thank Prof. Tedlow for hours of reading pleasure, and for elucidating of many aspects of business that were previously opaque to me. Finally - I thank him for enriching my vocabulary with what he rightly refers to as an "infelicitous" phrase: Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal!
Outstanding.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was introduced to this book via an article in Investor's Business Daily. It's refreshing to read this kind of history without all of the modern-day revisionist editorializing about "robber barons" or the evil wealthy "one percent". On a personal level, some of the men described in this book were far from moral perfection (especially Henry Ford), but all were years ahead of their time in their respective businesses. The Modern Industrial Era of 20th century America would not have been possible without the efforts of these gentlemen. No view of American history can be complete without understanding who these people were, what they accomplished and what motivated them.
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