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My Book Reviews

Category: General business
Published: 1997
Read: 1998
Reviewed: Sep 2009

This book is composed of interviews of 5 of the leading business people of the last few decades - Andy Grove (Intel), Fred Smith (Fedex), Peter Lynch (manager of Fidelity Magellan Fund), Pleasant Rowland (American Girl), and Paul Volcker (former Fed Chairman). The book is laid out in Q&A style and the answers that are given are very crisp even though the dialogue seems to be off-the-cuff.

This book doesn't have a lot to offer. Even though the interviewees are relatively recent business players, the book has more of a historical feel than a contemporary feel. Also, even though the subjects all fall under the broad category of "business", the diverse mix of subjects (well-known CEO, not well-known CEO, investor, economist) causes the book to lack focus. Someone reading it for fun may appreciate the variety though, which makes the book suitable for anyone who likes to read business books for leisure. Investors who are looking to gain an edge should definitely skip the book. At best, an investor may walk away with an enhanced sense of appreciation for the influence that leadership has on the performance of a company but that's about it.

The only interesting thing I got out of the book was the interview where Paul Volcker briefly talks about how traditional banks used to have a monopoly on lending but how they don't anymore because other financial institutions, like securities firms and money market funds, lend money now. This shed considerable insight into the 2008 financial meltdown (because securitization created secondary markets that essentially became a form of lending) and also raises the question about how regulation of the financial system will be affected in the future.

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