Recommended Books

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book."
Henry David Thoreau

 

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century

by Michael Hiltzik
ISBN: 1416532161, Hardcover- $16.21 BUY

For his history of a famous piece of infrastructure, Hiltzik selects one without compare. Decked out in art deco, the Hoover Dam is a beautiful immensity that awes throngs of visitors, and it boasts a construction epic reflecting Depression-era America: the first to impound the Colorado River, the dam is both product and symbol of the politics of water rights in the American West. It is the 1920s iteration of the latter on which Hiltzik, a business writer for the Los Angeles Times, embarks in his fascinating account of the genesis of the Boulder Canyon Project, as the enabling congressional act called the yet-unnamed dam. Starting the story at the torrid desert job site, Hiltzik recounts the rigorous organization of the project by the contract-winning consortium and its engineering chief, Frank Crowe. If Crowe's solutions to technical problems were audaciously titanic, the labor practices of his bosses were pitiless. Strikes were crushed; slack safety resulted in numerous deaths; and a whites-only hiring policy prevailed. Astutely conveying the characters of its creators, Hiltzik marvelously captures the times of the Hoover Dam.


Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives

by Jim Sheeler
ISBN: 159420165X, Paperback- $4.91 BUY

Pulitzer Prize?winning journalist Sheeler (Obit: Inspirational Stories of People Who Led Extraordinary Lives) pays eloquent tribute to the soldiers who have died in Iraq and their devastated families. The author spent two years shadowing Maj. Steve Beck, a marine in charge of casualty notification, as he delivered the news of battlefield death to families. Sheeler puts readers in Beck's shoes as he walks up to houses, delivers the knock on the door so dreaded by military families and tries to comfort distraught spouses and parents. Sheeler provides intimate sketches of the fallen soldiers?like Marine Staff Sgt. Sam Holder, who died while drawing enemy fire away from an injured comrade?and follows up as grieving families try to put their lives back together. The children left behind are often the most tragic figures: the young son of army PFC Jesse Givens asks if he can be a little boy again when he goes to heaven so that he can play with his dad. Dedicated to everyone who opened the door, Sheeler's book is a devastating account of the sacrifices military families make and should be required reading for all Americans.


In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules

by Stacy Perman
ISBN: 0061346713, Paperback- $16.49 BUY

Perman (Spies Inc.) casts an affectionate and admiring eye at In-N-Out Burger, the family-owned, Southern California chain that has become a cultural institution without franchising, going public, changing its menu or precooking its burgers. This book traces the history of the company and the Snyders, the family that founded and still owns In-N-Out, interspersed with the evolution of the fast-food industry. Perman never makes good on her promise to go behind-the-counter and analyze the company's dealings?her access to executives and family members did not extend to gleaning financial or strategic information?consequently it's never clear whether In-N-Out's conservatism is a conscious business strategy, a personal preference of the owners or plain complacency. More a glowing fan letter from an appreciative customer than exposé, this book has more to say about the company's celebrity fans, American family dynamics and our collective love affair with fast food.


SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

by Steven D. Levitt
ISBN: 0060889578, Hardcover- $17.99 BUY

SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as:

How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?

Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?

How much good do car seats do?

What's the best way to catch a terrorist?

Did TV cause a rise in crime?

What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?

Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?

Can eating kangaroo save the planet?

Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?

Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is ? good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.


Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt
ISBN: 0060731338, Paperback- $6.81 BUY

This book succeeds at analyzing sociological developments in a way that is entertaining because Steven Levitt, an economist who strays from convention, has a knack for unpeeling layers and layers of assumptions and myth and showing the real causes behind trends. He shows, to name some examples, how our names affect our career paths; how abortion and the crime rate are related; how a man used his cunning to humiliate the Klu Klux Klan rather than rely on conventional methods; how easy it is to identify the role of public school teachers when they help their students cheat on standardized tests; why drug dealing is only lucrative for the dealers at the top of the pyramid; the myth that real estate agents are looking for our best interests.


Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

by Marc Reisner
ISBN: 0140178244, Paperback- $12.24 BUY

Marc Reisner?s Cadillac Desert is such a revisionist history. His focus on the creation of infrastructure to support Western settlement exposes a history, not of rugged individualism and romantic cowboys, but of the construction of a heavily subsidized and tremendously expensive ??hydraulic society,?? founded on and maintained by the greed and competitiveness that is behind the American Dream. Reisner examines the West?s ecologically dangerous, and ultimately harmful, dependence on dams and aqueducts, as Americans pursue the ideal of taming the Great American Desert. The author focuses on the relentless building of dams and irrigation systems, as well as the corruption behind these developments, to show how the American need to control the environment has affected (and still does affect) the ecological welfare of national resources. Reisner also describes the rivalry between two governmental powers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engi neers, in their attempts to transform the nature of the American West.


The E-Myth Revisited - Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

by Michael E. Gerber
ISBN: 0887307280, Paperback- $9.60 BUY

Michael Gerber's The E-Myth Revisited should be required reading for anyone thinking about starting a business or for those who have already taken that fateful step. The title refers to the author's belief that entrepreneurs--typically brimming with good but distracting ideas--make poor business people. He establishes an incredibly organized and regimented plan, so that daily details are scripted, freeing the entrepreneur's mind to build the long-term success of the business. You don't need an M.B.A. to understand or follow its directives; Gerber takes time to explain buzzwords and complex theories. Read in a clear and well-paced manner, listening to The-E Myth is like receiving advice from an old friend.


Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround

by Louis V. Gerstner
ISBN: 0060523794, Hardcover- $17.61 BUY

Gerstner quarterbacked one of history's most dramatic corporate turnarounds. For those who follow business stories like football games, his tale of the rise, fall and rise of IBM might be the ultimate slow-motion replay. The book's opening section snappily reports Gerstner's decisions in his first 18 months on the job-the critical "sprint" that moved IBM away from the brink of destruction. The following sections describe the marathon fight to make IBM once again "a company that mattered."

One of Gerstner's first tasks was to redirect the company's attention to the outside world, where a marketplace was quickly changing and customers felt largely ignored. He succeeded mightily. Upon his retirement this year, IBM was undeniably "a company that mattered." Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? is a well-rendered self-portrait of a CEO who made spectacular change on the strength of personal leadership.


Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done

by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck (Contributor)
ISBN: 0609610570, Hardcover- $17.33 BUY

Disciplines like strategy, leadership development, and innovation are the sexier aspects of being at the helm of a successful business; actually getting things done never seems quite as glamorous. But as Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan demonstrate in Execution, the ultimate difference between a company and its competitor is, in fact, the ability to execute.

Execution is "the missing link between aspirations and results," and as such, making it happen is the business leader's most important job.


Sex.com: One Domain, Two Men, Twelve Years and the Brutal Battle for the Jewel in the Internet's Crown

by Kieren McCarthy
ISBN: 1905204663, Paperback- $24.95 BUY

With five million page views every day, sex.com was the most valuable piece of virtual real estate on the planet during the first years of the internet. But the fact that it didn?t physically exist didn?t mean that it couldn?t be stolen. With an ingenious scam?the full details of which have never been revealed until now?lifelong con man Stephen Cohen was able to snatch the domain name and walk into a life of untold wealth and luxury. But Cohen underestimated the determination of Gary Kremen?sex.com?s original owner?to get his property back. The efforts took ten years and millions of dollars, but Kremen eventually saw Cohen finally pay for his crimes. This is the story of the extraordinary battle between two extraordinary men: a Stanford scholar with uncanny foresight, and an uneducated, genius con man with an unnatural gift for persuasion. The fight pushed each man to the edge, rewrote the laws, and shaped the history and development of the internet as we know it.


Hijacked: The Real Story of the Heroes of Flight 705

by Dave Hirschman
ISBN: 0440613884, Paperback- $19.99 BUY

On April 7, 1994, two days before a scheduled disciplinary hearing, FedEx flight engineer Auburn Calloway joined the ranks of disgruntled employees who mix revenge with violence when he hijacked a DC-10 cargo jet en route from Memphis to San Jose. His plan to kill the crew and crash the plane backfired when the three-man crew--David Sanders (pilot), Jim Tucker (copilot), and Andy Peterson (flight engineer)--did not succumb to his brutal hammer blows to their skulls. With Tucker and Peterson in the cabin trying to subdue the agitated Calloway, Sanders landed the plane against heavy odds: the freight and fuel were too heavy, the approach speed was too fast, and parts of the plane had fallen off. Reporter and pilot Hirschman, who was on the story from the beginning, describes the thwarted hijacking; recovery of the injured airmen; and trial of Calloway. The bravery of the crewmen shines throughout as they saved the plane, the company, and the community from a major disaster.


First, Break All the Rules - What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

by Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman
ISBN: 0684852861, Hardcover- $18.90 BUY

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking in First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as "treat people as you like to be treated"; "people are capable of almost anything"; and "a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy." "Great managers are revolutionaries," the authors write. "This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place."


Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't

by Jim Collins
ISBN: 0066620996, Hardcover- $16.50 BUY

Jim Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" In Good to Great, Collins concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11--including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo--and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success.

Making the transition from good to great doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come.


A New Brand World - Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the Twenty-First Century

by Scott Bedbury, Stephen Fenichell (Contributor)
ISBN: 0670030767, Hardcover- $17.47 BUY

Bedbury, who headed advertising and marketing divisions for Nike and Starbucks during their phenomenal growth, coaches on establishing a memorable brand. Observing consumers overwhelmed by countless choices, he argues that now's the time to build a brand that evokes trust from its customers.

"Unless your brand stands for something, it stands for nothing," he declares, as he explains methods for companies big and small to articulate their essence and ethos to core customers, potential customers and employees. Bedbury elaborates his belief that "the brand is the sum total of everything a company does" with lively anecdotes from the experiences of Harley-Davidson, Microsoft and others. He calls for advertising and marketing that will inspire rather than merely inform (ie: "Just Do It").


Inside The Magic Kingdom - 7 Keys to Disney's Success

by Thomas K. Connellan
ISBN: 1885167237, Hardcover- $13.00 BUY

Look in Mickey's Briefcase . . . Now, an outsider takes you inside the incredible Disney service culture and presents simple, powerful concepts in a fun, memorable way that just may change the way you conduct business. Based on hours of interviews and discussions with present and former Disney employees, Inside the Magic Kingdom discloses the secrets behind Disneys success . . . and explains why, of its more than 30 million guests each year, over two-thirds are repeat customers.

This upbeat, easy-to-read book illustrates clear, solid principles with examples that are well-known to Disney insiders but virtually unknown to outsiders until now. Outlines the seven keys to Disney's success. Now the principles that drive the culture and phenomenal success of Disney are disclosed in this fun, easy-to-read book. You will learn many insider secrets that will spell success if implemented in any business.


McDonald's - Behind the Arches

by John F. Love
ISBN: 0553347594, Paperback- $11.05 BUY

McDonald's: it is the world's premier entrepreneurial success story, a company whose growth worldwide continues to be astonishing. In tough financial times, McDonald's proved that ingenuity, trial and error, and gut instinct were the keys to building a service business the entire world has come to admire. In the years since McDonald's: Behind The Arches was first published, McDonald's has been a trendsetter in advertising, focusing on different ethnic groups as well as the physically disabled.

McDonald's created McJobs, a program that employs both mentally challenged adults and senior citizens. And because its franchisees have their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace, McDonald's has evolved successfully with the health food revolution, launching dozens of new products and moving toward environmentally-safe packaging and recyclable goods. Inspiring, informative, and filled with behind the scenes stories, this remarkable saga offers an irresistible look inside a great American business success.


How to Make Your Business Run Without You!

by Susan M. Carter
ISBN: 0967029104, Paperback- $26.60 BUY

How To Make Your Business Run Without You is a how-to resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs to effectively streamline operations that will pave the way for more business, bigger profits and a business that virtually runs itself. Through step-by-step chapters, Author Susan Carter advances readers from the high-risk potential of 'owning their own jobs' to the freedom and control of 'owning their own businesses.' A must read for any owner or self-employed professional who is eager to move from start-up status to ongoing success.


The Myth of Excellence - Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything

by Fred Crawford, Ryan Mathews
ISBN: 0609608207, Hardcover- $19.25 BUY

Crawford is the managing director of the consumer products, retail, and distribution practice at the Cap Gemini Ernst and Young consultancy. Mathews is a futurist specializing in demographics and lifestyle analysis at FirstMatter, another consulting firm. To research purchasing behavior, they surveyed 5,000 consumers, but the responses they got surprised them and prompted their title's contrary proposition.

They developed a new model of "consumer relevancy." They explain in detail the importance of price, service, quality, access, and experience for the consumer. They then suggest that for companies to be successful they need to dominate on only one of these five factors. On a second of the five they should stand out or differentiate themselves from their competitors; and on the remaining three they need only to be at par with others in their industry. With dozens of examples, Crawford and Mathews demonstrate the validity of their premise.


Raving Fans - A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service

by Kenneth H. Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles (Contributor)
ISBN: 0688123163, Hardcover- $13.00 BUY

Kenneth Blanchard continues his trend of writing easy-to-read books with BIG ideas for making your business better. Raving Fans is a book of stories relating how fictional companies have created an environment of delivering awesome customer service. A guy that has just been put in a managment position requiring a turnaround goes on a fictional trip with his "angel" to visit businesses that have figured out their vision and their system to deliver customer service extraordinary. Based on three simple principles (Decide, Discover, Deliver), each company has created a group of Raving Fans (not just customers, but fans) who wouldn't consider shopping anywhere else for what one of these companies offers.


Differentiate or Die - Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition

by Jack Trout, Steve Rivkin (Contributor)
ISBN: 0471357642, Hardcover- $17.61 BUY

There are no two ways about it with Jack Trout. Either you've got a product or service that you can say is different, or you don't have much at all. In today's global marketplace and at its lightning-fast rate of change, there's no point in inventing and presenting a product only to sit back and hope that consumers everywhere will discover its greatness. It's not simply about what you or your product can do, it's about what you do differently from everyone else. Coauthors Trout and Steve Rivkin say it all in their no-holds-barred title, Differentiate or Die.


Practice What You Preach - What Managers Must Do to Create a High-Achievement Culture

by David H. Maister
ISBN: 0743211871, Hardcover- $18.20 BUY

Maister, a professional service consultant, surveyed 6,500 employees at 50 worldwide companies to evaluate the relationship between company financial performance and employee satisfaction and loyalty. He found a direct and dramatic correlation. Here, he offers detailed commentary from CEOs, managers and staffers, and analysis of the survey results. Bosses in all kinds of companies will benefit from his solid advice, which should be required reading for executives and upper level managers.


Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping

by Paco Underhill
ISBN: 0684849143, Paperback- $9.75 BUY

In an effort to determine why people buy, Paco Underhill and his band of retail researchers have camped out in stores over the course of 20 years, dedicating their lives to the "science of shopping." Armed with an array of video equipment, store maps, and customer-profile sheets, Underhill and his consulting firm, Envirosell, have observed over 900 aspects of interaction between shopper and store. They've discovered that men who take jeans into fitting rooms are more likely to buy than females (65 percent vs. 25 percent).

They've learned how the "butt-brush factor" (bumped from behind, shoppers become irritated and move elsewhere) makes women avoid narrow aisles. They've quantified the importance of shopping baskets; contact between employees and shoppers; the "transition zone" (the area just inside the store's entrance); and "circulation patterns" (how shoppers move throughout a store). And they've explored the relationship between a customer's amenability and profitability, learning how good stores capitalize on a shopper's unspoken inclinations and desires.

Underhill, whose clients include McDonald's, Starbucks, Est?Lauder, and Blockbuster, stocks Why We Buy with a wealth of retail insights, showing how men are beginning to shop like women, and how women have changed the way supermarkets are laid out. He also looks to the future, projecting massive retail opportunities with an aging baby-boom population and predicting how online retailing will affect shopping malls. This lighthearted look at shopping is highly recommended to anyone who buys or sells.


The E-Myth Manager - Why Management Doesn't Work-And What to Do About It

by Michael E. Gerber
ISBN: 0887309593, Paperback- $11.02 BUY

More than ten years after his first bestselling book, The E-Myth, changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of small business owners, Michael Gerber - entrepreneur, author, and speaker extraordinaire fires the next salvo in his highly successful E-Myth Revolution. Drawing on lessons learned from working with more than 15,000 small, medium-sized, and very large organizations, Gerber has discovered the truth behind why management doesn't workand what to do about it.

Unearthing the arbitrary origins of commonly held doctrines such as the omniscience of leader (Emperor) and the most widely embraced myth of all. The E-Myth Manager offers a fresh, provocative alternative to management as we know it. It explores why every manager must take charge of his own life, reconcile his own personal vision with that of the organization, and develop an entrepreneurial mind-set to achieve true success.


In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect

by Ronald Kessler
ISBN: 0307461351, Hardcover- $17.16 BUY

The recent news report that corner-cutting at the U.S. Secret Service has put President Obama's life at greater risk may be the most attention-grabbing disclosure emerging from Ron Kessler's latest book. But there's a lot more in this fascinating exposé, which penetrates that federal agency's longstanding mission and tradition of sworn secrecy.

Never mind that the book's title is stiffer than the Secret Service's public persona ? dour-faced agents wearing pressed suits, dark sunglasses and earphones, scouring crowds for potential threats. Inside the covers, Kessler's lively narrative is loaded with details of how the federal agents, authorized to protect the president and other national leaders, get the job done ? and sometimes don't.


Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur

by Sir Richard Branson
ISBN: 1905264429, Paperback- $5.99 BUY

Sir Richard Branson is one of the world?s most successful entrepreneurs and his Virgin Group is one of the most recognised lifestyle brands, trusted and enjoyed by many millions of people.

Now, in his trademark charismatic and honest style, Richard shares the inside track on some of his greatest achievements over forty years in business as well as the lessons he has learned from his setbacks. In Business Stripped Bare, he discusses why he took on one of the world?s biggest superbrands, how he built Virgin Mobile USA into the fastest growing company in history to reach a billion dollars in revenue, faster than Microsoft, Google or Amazon.com, and how Richard is the only person in the world to have built seven billion dollar companies from scratch in seven completely different sectors.

Richard tells the story behind the launch of Virgin America, his new airline in the USA, how Virgin Galactic is set to initiate a new era of space tourism from a spaceport deep in the Mojave desert, and what he has learned about business from a diverse group of leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Jack Welch, Herb Kelleher, Steve Jobs and the founders of Google. He also shares his thoughts on the changing face of the global economy and how businesses worldwide need to work together to tackle environmental challenges and invest in the future of our world.

Combining invaluable advice with remarkable and candid inside stories, Business Stripped Bare is a dynamic, inspirational and truly original guide to success in business and in life. Whether you are an executive, an entrepreneur or just starting out in the business world, Richard strips down business to show how you can succeed and make a difference.


The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

by Niall Ferguson
ISBN: 9861735844, Paperback- $10.88 BUY

British historian Ferguson follows Empire (2003), his provocative take on British history, and his equally provocative take on the American ?empire? in Colossus (2004), with a not so much provocative as fresh look at the history of money and its ramifications on how modern life has evolved, since to him ?money is the root of most progress.? One of his basic premises cannot be argued with: most people in the English-speaking world are woefully ignorant of things financial. To that end, Ferguson, in his desire to educate the general public, presents the history of money within these contexts: the rise of money and the history of credit, and the histories of the bond market, the stock market, insurance, the real-estate market, and international finance. There is an ease to his prose that leaves this complicated subject interesting to and approachable by any general reader. For the history and social-science side of the public library business collection.


Featured Articles