Bright Lights, No City: An African Adventure on Bad Roads with a Brother and a Very Weird Business Plan

Max Alexander, Author
Max Alexander. Hyperion, $24.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4013-2417-9
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-4013-0410-2
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Overseeing the start of a new energy business in West Africa, Alexander, a former executive editor of Variety and Daily Variety and a former senior editor at People, details the arduous task of selling durable, rechargeable AA batteries for flashlights and radios to poor rural villagers in Ghana despite government graft, tribal conflicts, superstition, and general apathy. The author, with his rich brother, Whit, the cofounder of the Cranium board game, just goes along for the ride, asking himself: “[H]ow many chances would I get to do something significant and crazy with my kid brother?” What follows is not a tame Forbes business model in action, but a zany, surreal terror-ride into the bush trying to get supplies, acquiring reluctant customers, hiring courageous agents to seek buyers, sidestepping the local priests and ever-demanding law. Slowly building the business of hawking the reliable “The Burro” battery, the Alexander brothers see their enterprise gradually become profitable, yet it is Ghana, with its peanut soups and tilapia stew, tropical music, cultural differences, and exotic medical plagues, that steals the show. At times improbable yet always comic and wise, Alexander’s tale of the brothers making a business pitch to Africans renews our understanding of service, need, and determination in the global village. (July)
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