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Business Adventures

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  17,188 ratings  ·  603 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
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408 pages
Published by Littlehampton Book Services Ltd (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)
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Umair ALI [Business Adventures] is a collection of Brookss New Yorker essays about why various companies succeeded or failed. The essay titled Xerox Xerox Xerox…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.

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  17,188 ratings  ·  603 reviews


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H.E. Roulo
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Rick Rowland
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Heather
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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Skip
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
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
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Vijay
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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Andrew Tollemache
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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 dated...ie. 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 ...more
Kanishka Sirdesai
Aug 03, 2015 rated it liked it
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!
Dkovlak
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Jacob
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Diego
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.

One
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.
Two
Fords introduction of the Edsel was a bust. This appears to be due to over hype and marketing at the wrong time, and going
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Grant
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.

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Albert W Tu
Aug 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
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Gaurav Bhati
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Denar
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Business is the only employment you can offer to yourself for a life time.
Scott'S Davidson
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Love this book, which it was written 2 years ago instead of 50s. However it's great
Frank Stein
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it

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,
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Fred Forbes
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
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Peter Tillman
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
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: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Busi...
So you can judge for yourself. He first read it some 25 years ago (1991). Hey, worked for him, worked for Buffett . . . .
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
Uday Khanna
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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,
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Jenny
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Regardless if youre 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 Ive 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
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Austin
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. Its 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). ...more
Ibn Azhar
If this is the best business book ever read by Bill Gates , he needs to reconsider his reading priorities.Its a five decades old book that hardly resonates with modren day readers.Occassional stories like controversy around switching job of space suit designer or inside trading feels like a cool breeze in otherwise a boring and barren book.
Jamon
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
A little too sappy at times about people, and very long winded but interesting and should be required business school reading.
Zach
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dated (written in late 1960s), but still generally applicable. Approachable and straightforward. Not a book for those without an interest/background in finance.
huydx
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
this book tells us about 12 different stories range from stock market, xerox success story to ford failure story. John Brooks is good at telling stories with detail and well-investigated fact. Recommend for people who want to know how the greatest stock market work, fail and spike,
how Ford most proud car model could become their most costly failure..
B A
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I admit that the main reason I read this book is because Bill Gates calls it "The Best Business Book Ive Ever Read" ( https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Busi... ). (The second reason I read the book was because it was on sale). After having read both this book and another Gates-recommended book, Sapiens by Yuval Hariri, I have to really question his judgment on books. Whereas Sapiens was a near total disaster of a book that I hate more and more the more I think about it, this book was just not ...more
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John Brooks (19201993) 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. Although ...more

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