COLOSSUS: How the Corporation Changed America
In this anthology of news articles, critical essays and excerpts from biographies, letters and literature, editor Beatty (The World According to Peter Drucker), a senior editor at theAtlantic Monthly, charts a history of for-profit corporations from the 17th century to today—from the Massachusetts Bay Company and the first railroads to Safeway and Time Warner. Contributors as diverse as a mill worker named Sarah Hodgson, John Steinbeck, 19th-century Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney and Susan Faludi address issues ranging from child labor, strikes and capitalist indoctrination in schools to scientific management and the hostile takeover. The focus of the book drifts from a history of for-profit corporations to an account of large-scale business enterprises regardless of legal form. However, some inclusions fit neither vision, such as a commentary by Charles Dickens on American spitting and a 30-page discussion of AT&T advertising from 1906 to 1939. More confusing are the sometimes sloppy attributions: an extreme example begins with a fragment from a quotation by Alexander Hamilton followed by a quote from "two historians of the 1790's" without further elaboration on who they were and whether they wrote during the period or studied it. Drawing mostly on recent secondary sources, the book encompasses a range of viewpoints, from intellectuals to laborers, yielding a sometimes muddled but often richly textured overview. Agent, Rafe Sagalyn. (On-sale Apr. 10)
Forecast:Aimed at the sophisticated audience among whom Ron Chernow (The House of Morgan, etc.) has enjoyed great success, this flawed yet intriguing collection won't come close to Chernow's sales, but should find a solid niche.
Release date: 04/01/2001