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Trailblazer: From the Mountains of Kashmir to the Summit of Global Business and Beyond

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Farooq Kathwari’s extraordinary life began in politically divided Kashmir, where his family was separated by government decree. He had to leave home as a refugee, helped his mother survive shock therapy, joined student activists in street demonstrations, and faced down a gun-wielding security officer—all by the age of seventeen.  Forced to become self-reliant, Kathwari jou Farooq Kathwari’s extraordinary life began in politically divided Kashmir, where his family was separated by government decree. He had to leave home as a refugee, helped his mother survive shock therapy, joined student activists in street demonstrations, and faced down a gun-wielding security officer—all by the age of seventeen.  Forced to become self-reliant, Kathwari journeyed to the United States, talked his way into a bookkeeping job, and earned a degree from NYU graduate school. He launched his first entrepreneurial venture selling Kashmiri crafts out of his Brooklyn apartment. When Kathwari’s best customer, the iconic furniture maker Ethan Allen, needed fresh leadership, he was asked to become its president.  He transformed the company and become one of America’s most successful—and admired—CEOs. Meanwhile, spurred by the tragic loss of his teenaged son in war, Kathwari dedicated himself to the cause of peace in Kashmir and around the world.  He hosted meetings with diplomats, shuttled messages between heads of state, and worked with global leaders on issues from human rights to refugee resettlement. Brimming with drama, insight, and unexpected humor, Trailblazer recounts a unique life story, offering readers not just an engrossing journey but also the wisdom of an exceptional leader. ​From Trailblazer— "When the American journalist told me he hoped to report the truth about the Kashmir uprising, I decided to help. “The government people won’t let you see what is really happening,” I said. “Why not let me take you around?” It was foolish of me to make such an offer. I knew I was risking retribution by the security forces. But I was a headstrong, independent young man. I wanted the truth to get out, and I would do what I could to help that happen."


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Farooq Kathwari’s extraordinary life began in politically divided Kashmir, where his family was separated by government decree. He had to leave home as a refugee, helped his mother survive shock therapy, joined student activists in street demonstrations, and faced down a gun-wielding security officer—all by the age of seventeen.  Forced to become self-reliant, Kathwari jou Farooq Kathwari’s extraordinary life began in politically divided Kashmir, where his family was separated by government decree. He had to leave home as a refugee, helped his mother survive shock therapy, joined student activists in street demonstrations, and faced down a gun-wielding security officer—all by the age of seventeen.  Forced to become self-reliant, Kathwari journeyed to the United States, talked his way into a bookkeeping job, and earned a degree from NYU graduate school. He launched his first entrepreneurial venture selling Kashmiri crafts out of his Brooklyn apartment. When Kathwari’s best customer, the iconic furniture maker Ethan Allen, needed fresh leadership, he was asked to become its president.  He transformed the company and become one of America’s most successful—and admired—CEOs. Meanwhile, spurred by the tragic loss of his teenaged son in war, Kathwari dedicated himself to the cause of peace in Kashmir and around the world.  He hosted meetings with diplomats, shuttled messages between heads of state, and worked with global leaders on issues from human rights to refugee resettlement. Brimming with drama, insight, and unexpected humor, Trailblazer recounts a unique life story, offering readers not just an engrossing journey but also the wisdom of an exceptional leader. ​From Trailblazer— "When the American journalist told me he hoped to report the truth about the Kashmir uprising, I decided to help. “The government people won’t let you see what is really happening,” I said. “Why not let me take you around?” It was foolish of me to make such an offer. I knew I was risking retribution by the security forces. But I was a headstrong, independent young man. I wanted the truth to get out, and I would do what I could to help that happen."

49 review for Trailblazer: From the Mountains of Kashmir to the Summit of Global Business and Beyond

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Interesting book. However, at times, I tired of reading of the author's accomplishments.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It covers the life of an Ethan Allen executive and his journey from Kashmir to America and his eventual leadership at EA. I enjoyed the sections regarding his business philosophy but overall I didn’t appreciate his writing style. Episodes in his life were presented as though he just happened to have good luck at getting out of Kashmir, getting into schools and businesses. And just casually mentioning how he or his family happened to know this captain I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It covers the life of an Ethan Allen executive and his journey from Kashmir to America and his eventual leadership at EA. I enjoyed the sections regarding his business philosophy but overall I didn’t appreciate his writing style. Episodes in his life were presented as though he just happened to have good luck at getting out of Kashmir, getting into schools and businesses. And just casually mentioning how he or his family happened to know this captain of business or that head of state. He never really acknowledged how that really drove his life, just another tale of privilege and how the haves continue to have.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    NOTE: I received this book as part of GoodReads' First Reads program. Trailblazer is the autobiography of Farooq Kathwari. Born in Kashmir in the 1940s to a prominent Muslim family in a region that's been in heavy contention since the breakup of the British Empire. Going to school with fellow Muslims as well as Hindus, he excelled at sports, especially cricket, and developed exceptional leadership skills as captain of the cricket team. After going to school in Kashmir, his father, who was in the NOTE: I received this book as part of GoodReads' First Reads program. Trailblazer is the autobiography of Farooq Kathwari. Born in Kashmir in the 1940s to a prominent Muslim family in a region that's been in heavy contention since the breakup of the British Empire. Going to school with fellow Muslims as well as Hindus, he excelled at sports, especially cricket, and developed exceptional leadership skills as captain of the cricket team. After going to school in Kashmir, his father, who was in the US, suggests he come to the US to study business at a college in NY. Through incredible luck, and his skills at negotiating, he manages to get to NY and enroll in university. While going to school, he manages to talk his way into a series of jobs, where he is able to rise very quickly. At his family's suggestion, he becomes an importer of goods made by craftsmen in Kashmir, and eventually goes into partnership with the Ethan Allen furniture company. This in turn leads him rise to become the CEO and Chairman of the company, leading its success into the 21st century. As if all that wasn't enough for one lifetime, he also becomes heavily involved in organizations to try and find a way to peace in southern Asia, and also organizations working to try and secure independence for Kashmir. Unfortunately, as any who reads the news knows, this last goal seems to be as distant as ever. This is a fascinating story of an interesting man who's lead an amazing life, and I highly recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I rec'd Trailblazer as part of a kindle giveaway. Kathwari is an immigrant from Kashmir. His story is one from the hills of Asia to the boardroom in the US. A son of a merchant, he became CEO of Ethan Allen International. His story and so many like his need to be told.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Lennek

    An Astounding Journey - an uncommon autobiography A truly inspiring life, merging lifelong values within the framework of education, travel, family, good luck and personal ambition. Read this book to get a deeper understanding of the situation in Kashmir, transitioning a corporation (Ethan Allen) and how it is possible for an individual to have worldwide reach in the efforts of peace. (And lessons for fighting off Corporate Raiders aka "activist investors." )

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trudy

    Farooq Kathwari has led an interesting life. Best of all is his attitude of gratitude for even the small players in it. I found his memoir interesting although I got bogged down in the business portions. He is an exemplary leader in business and life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I received this as a Goodread's Giveaway. This is a well-written autobiography of Farooq Kathwari. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in business biographies &/or global economy. I received this as a Goodread's Giveaway. This is a well-written autobiography of Farooq Kathwari. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in business biographies &/or global economy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Misty Hutchison

    Great book very interesting loved it

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kasey

    Thank you for the opportunity to review this book as a giveaway recipient. I am excited to read it and will update my thoughts on this book soon!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen Stromberg

    I won this book through Goodreads. I'm glad I did or I never would have read it. I want to work for this man! I like the corporate culture that he embraces. The book was very compelling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Kept my interest throughout

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maryellen

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Grecco

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan Magee

  17. 4 out of 5

    Swell2bme

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  19. 5 out of 5

    Helena Wann

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mike He

  22. 5 out of 5

    Farooq Kathwari

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abdul Rauf

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kh Zee

  25. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ed Lehman

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gaurav

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  31. 4 out of 5

    Michael Landry

  32. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  33. 4 out of 5

    Farah

  34. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lilly

  36. 5 out of 5

    Andi

  37. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  38. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Mastroianni

  39. 5 out of 5

    Michael Oswald

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Maddux

  41. 4 out of 5

    THAN

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  43. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  44. 4 out of 5

    Janice

  45. 5 out of 5

    lou brown

  46. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Stone

  47. 5 out of 5

    Pam Furmon

  48. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  49. 5 out of 5

    Alex Helm

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