THE COMPANY: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea

John Micklethwait, Author, Adrian Wooldridge, Author, Adrian Wooldridge, Joint Author . Modern Library $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-679-64249-7

Considering the astounding impact companies have had on every corner of civilization, it's amazing that the development of the institution has been largely unexamined. Economist editors Micklethwait and Wooldridge present a compact and timely book that deftly sketches the history of the company. They trace its progress from Assyrian partnership agreements through the 16th- and 17th-century European "charter companies" that opened trade with distant parts of the world, to today's multinationals. The authors' breadth of knowledge is impressive. They infuse their engaging prose with a wide range of cultural, historical and literary references, with quotes from poets to presidents. Micklethwait and Wooldrige point out that the enormous power wielded by the company is nothing new. Companies were behind the slave trade, opium and imperialism, and the British East India Company ruled the subcontinent with its standing army of native troops, outmanning the British army two to one. By comparison, the modern company is a bastion of restraint and morality. In a short, final chapter on the company's future, the authors argue against the fear, in antiglobalization circles, that "a handful of giant companies are engaged in a 'silent takeover' of the world." Indeed, trends point toward large organizations breaking into smaller units. Moreover, the authors argue that for all the change companies have engendered over time, their force has been for an aggregate good. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (On sale Mar. 4)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 214 pages - 978-0-7538-2040-7
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8129-7287-0
Hardcover - 214 pages - 978-0-297-84726-7
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