Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street
“Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read.” —Bill Gates, The Wall Street Journal
Business Adventures – What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.
Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance. Longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks’s insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history repeats itself.
Five additional stories on equally fascinating subjects round out this wonderful collection that will both entertain and inform readers . . . Business Adventures is truly financial journalism at its liveliest and best.
Book Review by H. Roulo
I had heard, as I think everyone else has, that Business Adventures was a favorite book of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I read the ebook, and I understand a print version will be forthcoming in September.
This book makes me feel as though I’m sitting at the knee of my grandfather, listening to wise recollections.
A writer of articles in the 1950’s and 1960, many for the New Yorker, the author intelligently and thoughtfully steps through 12 events, one per chapter.
At first I thought perhaps I was particularly dense and wasn’t getting the message. What held these stories together? Eventually, I realized that the author is not driving home a point, selling anything, or giving advice. His observations leave room for the reader to consider events, their connections, their parallels to today, the importance of character, and the question of morality in business. It was refreshing not to be told what to think.
I enjoyed the stories of Ford’s Edsel, Piggly Wiggly, Xerox, Goodrich vs Latex.
The chapter on the federal income tax is particularly relevant, given the wide-spread debate about taxes and modern conversations about the 1%.
John Brooks’ perspective is firmly rooted in the past, when the book was written, and provides readers opportunity for a sense of omniscience since we can consider ramifications the author himself could not be aware of, at that time.
Times may change. People do not.
“[Brooks] provides the early version of what we think of as Malcolm Gladwell–style or Freakonomics-style lessons. . . . But Brooks features another trait that modern business writers, whether James Stewart, Malcolm Gladwell, or Michael Lewis, do not. Brooks is truly willing to give up his own views to get inside the mind of all his subjects.” —National Review
“More than two decades after Warren [Buffett] lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read . . . Brooks’s deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then.” —Bill Gates, The Wall Street Journal
“The prose is superb. Reading Brooks is a supreme pleasure. His writing turns potentially eye-glazing topics (e.g., price-fixing scandals in the industrial electronics market) into rollicking narratives. He’s also funny. . . . He tells entertaining stories replete with richly drawn characters, setting them during heightened moments within the world of commerce.” —Slate
This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks is an insightful and engaging you-are-there look into corporate and financial life in America.
About the Author
John Brooks (1920-1993) was an award-winning writer best known for his contributions to the New Yorker as a financial journalist. He was also the author of ten nonfiction books on business and finance, a number of which were critically acclaimed works examining Wall Street and the corporate world. His books Once in Golconda, The Go-Go Years, and Business Adventures have endured as classics. Although he is remembered primarily for his writings on financial topics, Brooks published three novels and wrote book reviews for Harper’s Magazine and the New York Times Book Review
Originally published: 1969