This was a good book. Entertaining and interesting and a good summary of American business from 1945 to 1986, I thought.
This was one of my favorite pThis was a good book. Entertaining and interesting and a good summary of American business from 1945 to 1986, I thought.
This was one of my favorite passages:
"On the surface, of course, America's postwar ethos, far from being collectivist, was the purest distillation of the credo of free enterprise. Individual opportunity, the salutary effects of competition, the fertile Darwinian chemistry of 150 million versions of self-interest colliding--those were the keynotes of the orthodox morality, and with the Cold War heating up, they *had* to be. The Commies had their system, we had ours; it was patriotic to assert and even exaggerate the differences between the two, and it would have been vaguely subversive to suggest that they might have any similarities at all.
"In fact, however, the America of that day had an inclusive notion of itself that, except for the overlay of ideology, was not very different from that of any other tribe. America had a flag, a mythology, and a mission. The mission, by its very nature, was essentially communal: to foster such a golden age of peace and plenty, that, in accordance with the notion of grace made manifest, the whole world would realize we were *right*. America would fulfill its promise not by turning out a million millionaires--that was the easy part--but by providing *everyone* with a polio shot, a supply of Keds and Levis, and two weeks' paid vacation. Our national glory--and the day's editorial writers did elaborate dances to to get this point across without sounding socialistic--lay in our promotion of the common weal; a crime against the common weal, in the name of business expediency or anything else, was thought of as a very real crime."
I think that characterization of postwar America is so spot-on and so accurate, and I always find it ironic that the one thing that all of my right-leaning friends from my generation have in common is that they all idealize this era, and want to return to it, and yet the politics that they mistakenly support today and the ideology they mistakenly espouse today are usually so antithetical to realizing the type of America that they are so nostalgic for.
I'm often nostalgic for that American era, too, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed reading this book....more
It was a funny thing with this book. I read the first 100 pages or so and enjoyed most of it quite a bit, but then I suddenly started getting tired ofIt was a funny thing with this book. I read the first 100 pages or so and enjoyed most of it quite a bit, but then I suddenly started getting tired of some of the minutia about the intra-editor correspondence and then I even started getting tired of the correspondence between the editors and the authors. And it was getting kind of repetitive. So I abandoned it kind of abruptly. But before I could complete abandon it, I had to go through the very copious and detailed index, and by the time I was out of the C's (cf. e.g. this *very* small sampling just from the A's and B's:
A&P (Updike) Absalom, Absalom (Faulkner) Agnew, Spiro T. Albee, Edward Allen, Woody Anderson, Sherwood Angell, Roger Arendt, Hannah Armies of the night, The (Mailer) Arno, Peter Ashe, Arthur Baker, Nicholson Barth, John Barthelme, Donald Beattie, Anne Beatty, Warren Beckett, Samuel Bell for Adano, A (Hersey) Bellow, Saul Benchley, Robert Berlin, Irving Bogart, Humphrey Borges, Jorge Luis Bradley, Bill Brando, Marlon Bright lights, big city (McInerney) Buckley, William F. Buffett, Warren Butler, Nicholas Murray
I realized that by the time I finished that exercise, I would probably have read every page of the book 5 times. So I went back to a more linear reading from where I had left off when I abandoned it, and I ended up mostly enjoying the book, though I was still quite bored by all the editorial stuff, and I'm sure a more serious New Yorker aficionado would appreciate that stuff more than I did.
The best parts for me were about the authors (especially Cheever, Salinger, and Updike in my case) and the least interesting parts were about the editors and thye business end of the magazine.
I have to give it t least 3 stars for effort, and the author certainly expended plenty of that--he went through 3,000 boxes of correspondence and inter-office memoranda and interviewed 50 people....more
This is a good anthology. Some of these I couldn't completely understand because the finance or economics in them were technically over my head (thatThis is a good anthology. Some of these I couldn't completely understand because the finance or economics in them were technically over my head (that happened a lot especially in the section about the Asian currency crisis), but most were written for the layman (even most of the ones in the financial press, I'd say) and were easily understandable and interesting and informative....more
I'm not really sure how to rate this. I'm a card-carrying singer in the choir, obviously, and so I didn't learn anything new from this. But if the booI'm not really sure how to rate this. I'm a card-carrying singer in the choir, obviously, and so I didn't learn anything new from this. But if the book is (hopefully) getting a wider audience than the choir, I guess the question is how effective these arguments would be on the benighted masses. My guess (maybe optimistic) is that half will hit home; the other half will come across as as spin or demagoguery or something like that, not because the argument is not sound or true, but because it sounds too much like partisan or ideological spin because of the author's blustery tone. This might not be the best voice for transmitting the message, I'm sad to say, because I can definitely identify with the anger and indignation behind it, and certainly I endorse the message. ...more
16 years later, with Japan's economy in the dumper and their economic prospects looking almost as bad as ours, you might be tempted to think that Pres16 years later, with Japan's economy in the dumper and their economic prospects looking almost as bad as ours, you might be tempted to think that Prestowitz was misguided in some way when he wrote this in 1993. You'd be very wrong. If the US had taken the prescriptions that Prestowitz has been peddling for the past 25 years or so, we would absolutely not be in the mess we're in now.
We probably never will be able to implement any of Prestowitz's good ideas because they require long-term sustained direct government involvement in our country's more important business ventures and sustained investment in strategic economic directions that don't have immediate payoffs for investors (like education, for example), and that's never going to happen in this wacky 2-party pendulum system we have, especially when both parties are guided first and foremost by the short-term get-richer-quick demands of their shared constituencies.