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Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street
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Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  20,328 ratings  ·  745 reviews
This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks is an insightful and engaging look into corporate and financial life in America.

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 examp
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Open Road Media (first published August 14th 1969)
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Reyner Banham The New Yorker still uses diaeresis over most dipthongs. It's intended to indicate that the second vowel forms a second syllable. And it's tradition. …moreThe New Yorker still uses diaeresis over most dipthongs. It's intended to indicate that the second vowel forms a second syllable. And it's tradition. I, for one, kind of like it.(less)
Umair ALI [Business Adventures] is a collection of Brooks’s New Yorker essays about why various companies succeeded or failed. The essay titled “Xerox Xerox Xer…more[Business Adventures] is a collection of Brooks’s New Yorker essays about why various companies succeeded or failed. The essay titled “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox” should win an award for most clever chapter name, and the lessons inside the book are even better. I took inspiration from it while running Microsoft.

Bill GATES(less)

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H.E. Roulo
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rick Rowland
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had such a great time reading this book. Like I have said before, I am not an educated man. I only have a GED. But that did not stop me from understanding and enjoying this book. I learned so much and the authors style kept my attention locked. i hope you enjoy.
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
12 vignettes on very different business situations.

Wall Street woes, Ford Emodel issues, intellectual property litigations, FOREX, shareholding times, market volatility, corporate communications vs labirintine relationships... etc. Lots of indusctries and cases to observe: GE, Ford and Xerox are next to Piggly Wiggly and Texas Gulf...

Everything's a bit dated, of course. Still, the salient points of this caliber are never lost since nothing's new under the moon.
Recommended by Bill Gates.

3.5 stars. The author has a talent for making complex financial concepts accessible. The essays on the Edsel, Xerox, and the non-compete were especially good.

Annotations added 4.6.19:
"The [Internal Revenue] Code, a document longer than 'War and Peace,' is phrased--inevitably, perhaps--in the sort of jargon that stuns the mind and disheartens the spirit...." (p. 112)

"I find that companies are inclined to be at their most interesting when they are undergoing a little mis
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-books
Dated, slow, and failed to carry a common theme are among the criticisms of this republished book, which has been touted by wunderkind, Bill Gates. Sadly, the criticisms are all quite true. Most of these "classic tales" date from the late 50s and 60s, ranging from the colossal failure of Ford's Edsel model, to the vagaries of the federal taxation system, to the syndicate of nations that avoided a collapse of the British pound, to a case of cornering the market (Piggly Wiggly), to a case of trade ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, non-fiction
Business Adventures is well written, as John Brooks is able to tell these stories entertainingly by emphasising funny dialogues, and his generally great way with words. Brooks takes a human interest angle and describes the character of key people not just the facts, and thus adds a richness to each ‘adventure’. Essentially this similar to long form journalism today.

However, the book requires the reader to read between the lines and draw its own conclusions, as Brooks does not deliver read-made
Twelve Wall Street stories from the 60s. These type of lessons are valuable to understand, but unfortunately not all were readable. I was still able to get the summary of each except one. I have no idea what nine was about.

Market fluctuations is about a three day dip in the market in 1962, of which was caused by the delay in information. Not exactly applicable today.
Ford’s introduction of the Edsel was a bust. This appears to be due to over hype and marketing at the wrong time, and going a
Andrew Tollemache
I give this one a middling review not because it was middling, but it is a 40 year old anthology of business stories and some of them are boring and tax changes of the early 60s, a profile of a forgotten New Deal mandarin and an inconclusive analysis of the Edsel flop. The other stories are really good, I understand why Gates and Buffet cite this book as a favorite. The opening chapter on the mini-crash in '62 and the tech/messaging/quote issues they had reads almost like a tale fro ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! The author has a real gift for making the financial world extremely interesting. Not since Jeffry Archer and Kane and Abel have I read an account of financial dealings that was so exciting! I particularly enjoyed the struggle to save the sterling, the corner, the life of david lilienthal, and other pieces.

Some pieces were kind of boring though. Sadly, the author does not have the gift of brevity, and tends to ramble on and on.

Highly recommend for anyone interested in
Kanishka Sirdesai
A very dated book having an anthology of business stories. Some are interesting while others read like a scientific journal. Coincidentally, a few stories mirror real life business dilemmas!
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Since it was written in 1968, a lot has taken place. I wish each story could be updated. The author had a great idea in writing this book. He has written about 12 business adventures during the 60s. It would be great for someone to do a current day version of this book with more current business adventures. An updated version of this book should be included in all MBA programs. I really learned a lot about business from this book.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Yeah, more people have read this in the past two months than in the prior forty years. I'm glad as the New Yorker + Finance angle is a good one for me. While reading I found the stories interesting, but didn't once think of them afterwards. Guess that's why I'm not one of the two richest folks in America. ...more
Tarmo Tali
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not your modern "business" book. It's not a book where a trivial idea is stretched to 500 pages, filled with carefully cherry-picked studies on how well-known brands are successful because of your great idea. There is none of it.

It tells 12 stories about the business. They are very well written, and there is plenty to learn from them. I wish I read it ten years ago. It's also a favorite business book of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Semi-entertaining read. Gates & Buffett have successfully pushed this book into "massively overhyped" territory however. Some of the chapters are rather boring, despite Brooks' engaging prose, which is often tongue-in-cheek. Best chapters:

-Texas Gulf Sulphur chapter... this was interesting, learned a lot about the SEC and was fun to read about how the Kidd Mine guys thought they were being clever enough to get away with what was obviously insider trading. Good work from the SEC on this one.

Albert W Tu
Aug 10, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
may not be worth your time...

Out of print for over 40 years and recently resurrected(#508 on Amazon eBooks and #76 in paperback-and still a few days out from release) this book is cited by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates as their favorite book on business. I'm wagering this book will take over from Piketty's Capital as the most purchased yet unread book of the season and yet the difference in reading pleasure is so stark. Brooks wrote these essays nearly 50 years ago and you can't help but recall t
Peter Tillman
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I liked it, mostly. Well-written but ancient (1960s). See mixed reviews at Amazon. Worth a quick look, if your library has a copy -- it's recently been reissued. Not sure why Warren Buffett & Bill Gates are so fond of it. But here's Bill Gates' review:
So you can judge for yourself. He first read it some 25 years ago (1991). Hey, worked for him, worked for Buffett . . . .
Gaurav Bhati
Read this book for the joy of exploring old school style of writing and to experience what good business journalism looks like.

Examples are a bit dated, but the storytelling skills of the author make up for it. Author has a unique style of creating a Sherlock Holmes type suspense even while narrating business stories which most people find boring. The book was a bit difficult to read in the beginning, but the style grew on me.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: educational
John Brooks tells stories that any business can learn from. Written in detail and entertaining.
There are 12 different stories that can be read separately as I knew most of the cases.
Mwale Phillimon
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Business is the only employment you can offer to yourself for a life time.
Scott'S Davidson
Love this book, which it was written 2 years ago instead of 50s. However it's great ...more
Frank Stein
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This little-remembered collection of New Yorker essays from the 1960s surged into popularity recently when both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who, depending on the week or month, are the two richest humans in history, declared it their favorite business book ever. Surprisingly to many, however, this is not a typical business book. It does not feature the typical managerial bromides or numbered lists of MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES. What it does have are 12 extremely well-written, well-th
Fred Forbes
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to see the mention of this book as a "favorite" of Bill Gates, given to him by Warren Buffet with a strong recommendation. Article in the Wall St. Journal mentioned it was out of print. Within days, miraculously back in print, complete with kindle edition (which I purchased) and climbing the best seller lists. The book's "business adventures" take place in the mid 60's and it was fun to journey back to those days when I could not have cared less about business and finance - provides ...more
Danny Hui
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review:
I found this book on Bill Gates top reads. Few books have the effect of showing you the world in a whole new light. This is one of those books.
Have you ever wondered why North America doesn't have open government corruption? Or how the concept of insider trading got created? This book has the answers.

What I remember:
There are 12 very powerful stories that teach a wealth of knowledge. I remember the story of the Model E by Ford, which is funny because it was such a failure that we wou
David Highton
The business 'adventures' in this book are all pretty dated - none written later than 1968 - some still a good read, others not. Not sure I understand why the Gates/Buffett quotes of support are so strong ...more
Masatoshi Nishimura
The story was a bit hard to follow as a layman oblivious to Wall Street culture. You would enjoy it if you follow the movies like The Big Short.
Feb 22, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The biggest draw of this book is that it doesn’t turn every story into a didactic tale with a moral at the end. The fact that this is written by a reporter who lets the reader come to their own conclusions instead of force feed them a cherry picked analysis is a refreshing change from run of the mill business books.
Although dated, many of the stories still hold sway - the curious fundamentals of how trading works on Wall Street, the insanely complex and often illogical workings of the tax code
Uday Khanna
I picked this up when I saw that Bill Gates' quote heaping praises for this one. I dont know If I'm in a position right now to 'quote' something, but have to say this is unbelievably good. I might be guilty of saying this for every book that I read perhaps, but I think I make the right choices haha.
When it comes to talking about the financial capital of the world, or the Wall street, there's no one as good as Micheal Lewis. Well, John Brooks 'might' be as good as Lewis. Fantastic narratives, so
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Regardless if you’re a business person or not, this book is a staple for those who want to visualize and understand the world of finance.
Out of all the business books I’ve tried, this one was written by far the most comprehensively. However, there were still moments in the chapters when the jargon overpowered and I could feel my attention slipping.
Overall though, the history of Wall Street that this book provides has given me so much more clarity into understanding the world of finance today and
Marcus Chung
3.5/5 (stories are very dated, but timeless)

John Brooks has the talent to make complex financial concepts/problems sound more simple, and thus I believe readers will be able to find this book less daunting and more approachable.

Reading this book, felt like I was listening to an old retiree from wall-street babbling about how his era made some small but dangerous mistakes. If you are looking to learn more about business, I wouldn’t recommend this book - but if you are just looking for a fun read
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me nearly 2.5 years to finish this book. I originally bought it because it appeared on the “best all-time business books” lists of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s a fine read, but quite dated. It is a classic best consumed slowly, when one is feeling wistful about the commerce of yore and is adorned in a jacket with elbow patches (in a room smelling of rich mahogany and many leather bound books, of course).
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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 inGolconda, The Go-Go Years, and Business Adventures have endured as classics. Althoug ...more

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