Poor Richard's Legacy: American Business Values from Benjamin Franklin to Donald Trump

Peter Baida, Author William Morrow & Company $22.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-688-07729-7
From thrift and honesty to enormous debt and main-chance ethics, American business values have spiraled downward as viewed in this ingeniously conceived and brightly executed social history by business journalist Baida. To chockfull profiles of such business giants as Astor, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Ford, Ogilvy and Watson, he adds a chorus of ``dissenting voices,'' those of Melville, Thoreau, Twain, Sinclair Lewis, Ralph Nader and John Kenneth Galbraith, limning the interaction of economic forces and popular literature. Franklin's work-and-save precepts, Huck Finn's insouciance and Horatio Alger's cult of character are displaced by the Dale Carnegie cult of personality, followed by Arthur Miller's salesman Willy Loman, while IBM's ``Sell and Serve'' policy is countered by Union Carbide's Bhopal mentality. All, in the author's narrative, leads to the U.S. deficit, and armaments build-up, to ``junk bond'' and credit card heaven and sweet songs like Robert Ringer's injunction to ``forget the `moral' standards,'' to Michael Korda's how-to on getting and using personal power. Baida is careful not to preach; he doesn't need to. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
Paperback - 978-0-688-10966-0
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