"Dangerous Pursuits: Mergers and acquisitions in the age of Wall Street" by Walter Adams and James Brock

Brian Gongol

One-paragraph review: As a period piece (copyright 1989) from the height of the mergers-and-acquisitions frenzy of the 1980s, "Dangerous Pursuits" is a valuable piece of business history. Putting aside the authors' open hostility to M&A activity, the facts of the time are well-documented. But the main failure of the book is that, in an all too familiar way, what starts as legitimate criticism devolves into oversimplification and name-calling. As serious academics, the authors should have been above calling people "cowboy capitalists" and throwing bombs at "Reaganauts". However, if one can overlook the heavy-handedness of the analysis and reach an independent conclusion (particularly with the help of the passage of 25 years), enlightening insights can result.

Verdict: A thorough, if biased, account from a time that had formative effects on the business world of today.