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Masters of Enterprise: Giants of American Business from John Jacob Astor and J.P. Morgan to Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey

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From the early years of fur trading to today's Silicon Valley empires, America has proved to be an extraordinarily fertile land for the creation of enormous fortunes. Each generation has produced one or two phenomenally successful leaders, often in new industries that caught contemporaries by surprise, and each of these new fortunes reconfirmed the power of fanatically sin From the early years of fur trading to today's Silicon Valley empires, America has proved to be an extraordinarily fertile land for the creation of enormous fortunes. Each generation has produced one or two phenomenally successful leaders, often in new industries that caught contemporaries by surprise, and each of these new fortunes reconfirmed the power of fanatically single-minded visionaries. John Jacob Astor and Cornelius Vanderbilt were the first American moguls; John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan were kingpins of the Gilded Age; David Sarnoff, Walt Disney, Ray Kroc, and Sam Walton were masters of mass culture. Today Oprah Winfrey, Andy Grove, and Bill Gates are giants of the Information Age. America has again and again been the land of dizzying mountains of wealth. Here, in a wittily told and deeply insightful history, is a complete set of portraits of America's greatest generators of wealth. Only such a collective study allows us to appreciate what makes the great entrepreneurs really tick. As H. W. Brands shows, these men and women are driven, they are focused, they deeply identify with the businesses they create, and they possess the charisma necessary to persuade other talented people to join them. They do it partly for the money, but mostly for the thrill of creation. The stories told here -- including how Nike got its start as a business-school project for Phil Knight; how Robert Woodruff almost refused to take control of Coca-Cola to spite his father; how Thomas Watson saved himself from prison by rescuing Dayton, Ohio, from a flood; how Jay Gould nearly cornered the gold market; how H. L. Hunt went from gambling at cards to gambling with oilleases -- make for a narrative that is always lively and revealing and often astonishing. An observer in 1850, studying John Jacob Astor, would not have predicted the rise of Henry Ford and the auto industry. Nor would a student of Ford in 1950 have anticipated the takeoff of direct marketing that made Mary Kay Ash a trusted guide for millions of American women. Full of surprising insights, written with H. W. Brands's trademark flair, the stories in "Masters of Enterprise" are must reading for all students of American business history.


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From the early years of fur trading to today's Silicon Valley empires, America has proved to be an extraordinarily fertile land for the creation of enormous fortunes. Each generation has produced one or two phenomenally successful leaders, often in new industries that caught contemporaries by surprise, and each of these new fortunes reconfirmed the power of fanatically sin From the early years of fur trading to today's Silicon Valley empires, America has proved to be an extraordinarily fertile land for the creation of enormous fortunes. Each generation has produced one or two phenomenally successful leaders, often in new industries that caught contemporaries by surprise, and each of these new fortunes reconfirmed the power of fanatically single-minded visionaries. John Jacob Astor and Cornelius Vanderbilt were the first American moguls; John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan were kingpins of the Gilded Age; David Sarnoff, Walt Disney, Ray Kroc, and Sam Walton were masters of mass culture. Today Oprah Winfrey, Andy Grove, and Bill Gates are giants of the Information Age. America has again and again been the land of dizzying mountains of wealth. Here, in a wittily told and deeply insightful history, is a complete set of portraits of America's greatest generators of wealth. Only such a collective study allows us to appreciate what makes the great entrepreneurs really tick. As H. W. Brands shows, these men and women are driven, they are focused, they deeply identify with the businesses they create, and they possess the charisma necessary to persuade other talented people to join them. They do it partly for the money, but mostly for the thrill of creation. The stories told here -- including how Nike got its start as a business-school project for Phil Knight; how Robert Woodruff almost refused to take control of Coca-Cola to spite his father; how Thomas Watson saved himself from prison by rescuing Dayton, Ohio, from a flood; how Jay Gould nearly cornered the gold market; how H. L. Hunt went from gambling at cards to gambling with oilleases -- make for a narrative that is always lively and revealing and often astonishing. An observer in 1850, studying John Jacob Astor, would not have predicted the rise of Henry Ford and the auto industry. Nor would a student of Ford in 1950 have anticipated the takeoff of direct marketing that made Mary Kay Ash a trusted guide for millions of American women. Full of surprising insights, written with H. W. Brands's trademark flair, the stories in "Masters of Enterprise" are must reading for all students of American business history.

30 review for Masters of Enterprise: Giants of American Business from John Jacob Astor and J.P. Morgan to Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Upom

    The book I was hoping American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 would be. Brands does a great job of profiling some famous names in American business and entrepreneurship including famous names like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, and less known businessmen, including Berry Gordy, David Sarnoff, and H.L. Hunt. Brands provides perfectly sized profiles on all these individuals, and then ends the book with a conclusion of what these men and women had in common. Gre The book I was hoping American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 would be. Brands does a great job of profiling some famous names in American business and entrepreneurship including famous names like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, and less known businessmen, including Berry Gordy, David Sarnoff, and H.L. Hunt. Brands provides perfectly sized profiles on all these individuals, and then ends the book with a conclusion of what these men and women had in common. Great book for learning about what makes a great entrepreneur.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert Federline

    I am definitely a new fan of The Modern Scholar. This is the first of the lectures from this series to which I have listened. It should enhance my own teaching and broadens my horizons for history and perspectives in learning. This course was engaging from the first moments and left me wanting more when it finally ended. It provides a great perspective on business in America through the perspectives of different business leaders. This is not, of course, and exhaustive list of business leaders, bu I am definitely a new fan of The Modern Scholar. This is the first of the lectures from this series to which I have listened. It should enhance my own teaching and broadens my horizons for history and perspectives in learning. This course was engaging from the first moments and left me wanting more when it finally ended. It provides a great perspective on business in America through the perspectives of different business leaders. This is not, of course, and exhaustive list of business leaders, but it is an excellent cross-section of the personalities which have helped this country to grow.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sylv C

    Well-written summaries of the lives of great American businessmen and women that have largely become household names - Astor, Vanderbilt, McCormick, Gould, Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford, Sloan, Watson, Kaiser, Hunt, Sarnoff, Disney, Woodruff, Kroc, Walton, Gordy, Ash, Knight, Claiborne, Turner, Winfrey, Grove and Gates. A great book to gift any young person interested in business or greater achievement. A bit hagiographical / one-sided (e.g. little mention of the tactics some of these men Well-written summaries of the lives of great American businessmen and women that have largely become household names - Astor, Vanderbilt, McCormick, Gould, Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford, Sloan, Watson, Kaiser, Hunt, Sarnoff, Disney, Woodruff, Kroc, Walton, Gordy, Ash, Knight, Claiborne, Turner, Winfrey, Grove and Gates. A great book to gift any young person interested in business or greater achievement. A bit hagiographical / one-sided (e.g. little mention of the tactics some of these men and women used early in their careers that today would be considered illegal) but anyone interested in a full picture can read the full biographies listed in the bibliography.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    I'm always fascinated by business stories. This was a good course.

  5. 5 out of 5

    stefanddddddd

    very easy to follow summary of the brightest minds in business in USA

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    I thought this class was more a biography then meaningful class material. Brings up the question, is story telling history. I was interested in the cds. But, his style didn't make me feel important as a in the know history student. It was too much a stretching of simple stories. I don't think he would even consider his class as even a 101 class in a major University. He has a pleasant voice and I liked his choices of covered men and women but it the program is a little weak.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Lynch

    "Masters of Enterprise" a look at giants in American business from John Jacob Astor to Bill Gates. Each chapter analyzes a successful person and summarizes their rise to power and prestige. The book is also a good overview of US history, looking at the development of infrastructure, locomotion and communication (Pony Express to the Internet).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I loved this book! It's in the format of a lecture series given by Brands. He's got a quirky, intellectual, Southern, humorous way of talking. He is also a brilliant and personable storyteller. I, like many Americans, have been under-educated in the business history that makes our nation what it is. As far as accuracy and rigor, I'm not the one to ask about this. But I really enjoyed the read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

    Outstanding survey of American business history as seen via some big household name entrepreneurs. Develops good themes on entrepreneurship, technology, role of government in business, and the cyclical nature of the business environment. I learned quite a few things and would listen again for the overarching themes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chad Lamb

    Another great Portable Professor series from Barnes & Noble. I listened to this one after "To Lead a Nation." H. W. Brands did a great job of detailing the lives of these famous American enterpreneurs and what common threads they shared. Recommended. Another great Portable Professor series from Barnes & Noble. I listened to this one after "To Lead a Nation." H. W. Brands did a great job of detailing the lives of these famous American enterpreneurs and what common threads they shared. Recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lori Grant

    A should-read book on entrepreneurial success stories for the knowledge worker or aspiring entrepreneur.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linu

    Not very deep, but covers some key topics on American capitalism

  13. 4 out of 5

    keong nakal

    all the great entrepreneurs were once a geek.... but they have dreams and most important, they have the guts to make all those dreams come true.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bo-kuai Lai

    Audio book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dana P

    If you can get past the 7 CDs, you will learn that Mary Kays first products were based on a taxidermists formula for tanning deer hides.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Not too deep. An OK survey of the careers of 22 businessmen and three women (Mary Kay Ash, Liz Claiborne, and Oprah).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tai Roe

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sullivcd

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Bass

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emerson

  23. 4 out of 5

    James Strock

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  25. 5 out of 5

    Allison Balthrop

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yiqiao Yin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chad

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cristian

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hoyle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Papi' Dikko

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