BIOGRAPHIES & BUSINESS HISTORIES
Beaverbrook (1972) A.J.P Taylor
Business magnate, World War 2 Production Czar and all around Force of Nature. And Canadian, eh!
Europe: The World’s Banker, 1870-1914 (1974) Herbert Feis
Well researched exploration of the national strategies, particularly in Germany and France and of course Great Britain, with respect to international investment, prior to the First World War.
Edison: The Man Who Made The Future (1977) Ronald W. Clark
Thomas Alva Edison either invented or enabled damn near everything. His genius was backed by the ability to imagine entire ecosystems before it was a word and commit industrial strength research and development to make it happen.
Insull: The Rise & Fall of a Billionaire Utility Tycoon (1962) Forrest McDonald
Though he died penniless and “disgraced” in the eyes of many, Samuel Insull drove the electrification of Chicago and the U.S. midwest. His “crime” was being over-leveraged going into the Great Depression and, despite sinking his own funds into supporting the securities of his conglomeration, being unable to halt financial distress.
Adventures of a Bystander (1994) Peter F. Drucker
Enjoyable personal memoir by management theory legend Peter Drucker of his youth in Austria and first years in the United States. For practical advice you can read his “Effective Executive.”
Delta: The History of an Airline (1979) W. David Lewis, Wesley P. Newton
Company friendly history of the “seat of the pants, get mail contracts” early years of one of America’s key commercial airlines through the regulation phase and changing bases of competition in a pre-deregulation world. (To his credit, Jimmy Carter’s elimination of the Civil Aeronautics Board is the only instance to date of a federal agency being eliminated. May there be many more, starting with the Department of Education).
Alcoa: An American Enterprise (1952) Charles C. Carr
“Home team” story of the company that invented aluminum, set up its own competitor (Reynolds Aluminum) at the request of the U.S. government in World War 2 only to be threatened with prosecution for having too much market share in a product it created! Oh, and long before “Black Lives Matter” was a thing protected their black employees from riots after World War 1 by letting them stay in the factory with their families and handing out rifles.
The Pabst Brewing Company: The History of an American Business (1948) Thomas C. Cochrane
Frederick Pabst started out as a ship captain with a tendency to run his ships aground but excelled at marrying well and taking over his father-in-law’s brewery. Pabst became the #1 beer in America, rolling out new products for consumption and reaching into the south and west with refrigeration. Beer. Wisconsin. America. Yeah!
Metal Men: How Marc Rich Defrauded the Country (1985) A. Craig Copetas
Metals and commodities trader Marc Rich generated billions in profits and evaded at least $90 million in personal income tax before fleeing to Switzerland, founding global commodities giant Glencore, and eventually being pardoned by then president Bill Clinton in return for a $450,000 bribe made out to the Clinton Foundation and arranged by that paragon of virtue (eye roll here) Eric Holder.
The Real Deal: My Life in Business and Philanthropy (2006) Sandy Weill, Judah Kraushaar
Autobiography written by an extraordinary man and proof that if you have a vision and go to work with your lunchpail every day good things happen. Sandy Weill didn’t have it handed to him and got “knocked down” more than once, but kept going and built Citigroup into the mega bank you see today. Candidly, the strategy had flaws – which he has subsequently admitted – but he built it!