cover image Good Spirits: The Making of a Businessman

Good Spirits: The Making of a Businessman

Edgar M. Bronfman, Author Putnam Publishing Group $25.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-399-14374-8

As chairman of the Seagram Company, Bronfman (The Making of a Jew) has overseen the company's rise from family-owned distillery to major corporation, with interests in everything from oil to orange juice. This breezy narrative chronicling his career includes behind-the-scenes anecdotes of major deals--including Seagram's much-publicized 1995 purchase of MCA--as well as interesting tidbits about brand-name liquors such as Chivas Regal, Calvert Extra and Boodles gin. An unabashed capitalist, Bronfman comes off as at once organized and impulsive, motivated and insecure--but never humble. From the twilight of a brilliant career, his assessment of many former employees seems insensitive--""Herb Brown was certainly not the man to take Friel's place. I needed an exceptionally smart financial executive who understood numbers and had imagination and judgment."" And his obsession to outdo his father occasionally becomes comical, as when he revealingly calls his father ""insecure"" three times in the space of four paragraphs. There is little in this work in the way of original lessons for the executive, but Bronfman's intelligence and blunt candor are enough to engage anyone curious about the favorable and unfavorable aspects of one of this century's most successful businessmen. (Feb.)