The Spirit to Serve

J. W. Marriott, Jr., Author, Kathi Ann Brown, With HarperCollins Publishers $25 (216p) ISBN 978-0-88730-878-9
Books written by heads of companies, especially family companies, inevitably arouse the reader's interest for the glimpses, intended or not, into the writer's character. Marriott is no exception. He does not disclose that he is a Mormon until almost the end of this book. He then reveals that, because of his religion, he ""decided to decide"" to put family first, church second and business last--this after spending 98% of the book telling us how his business operates and how his running, literally, to maintain it caused a heart attack. This does not quite compute. Not that the story of the hotel chain's growth isn't interesting, especially the insight into what works, what doesn't and why. It was not easy developing into the 16th-largest employer in the U.S. or the biggest hotel management company in the world. But the author is so close to the details that he sometimes forgets the reader is not. The book would have benefited from more information on the hiring and training of workers who are so vital to the success of the hotel industry and who often come from the lower socioeconomic strata. The author makes much of the company SOP manuals; including sample pages would have been instructive. Despite these quibbles, the book makes its contribution to business history. Brown is president of Virginia-based Milestone Historical Consultants. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 978-0-06-662114-2
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