On the Line: The Men of MCI--Who Took on AT&T, Risked Everything, and Won!

Larry Kahaner, Author Warner Books $0 (344p) ISBN 978-0-446-51313-5
This brisk, brightly written history of a company that is still fighting AT & T and others in the $40-billion long-distance telephone marketplace will appeal to those who enjoy entrepreneurial success stories. It is also a lucid explanation of what has happened to phone service in recent years. Based on interviews, the account begins in Joliet, Ill., in the 1960s, when Jack Goeken created MCI as a microwave relay system for truckers. Business writer Kahaner details the many legal, sales and other battles that gave rise to a company that now boasts 10,000 employees and some two million customers. While clearly an admirer of MCI chairman Bill McGowan and his unconventional managers, the author shows how luck, ""manipulation'' of the FCC and careful check-floating (in the mid-1970s, when MCI was $99 million in debt) helped the firm, which in the wake of AT & T's 1984 divestiture is now evolving into a ``model'' of the decentralized corporation of the 1980s, according to Kahaner. Photos not seen by PW. 50,000 ad/promo; author tour. (March 26)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-0-446-38550-3
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