"Giants of Enterprise" by Richard Tedlow

Brian Gongol

One-paragraph review: "Giants of Enterprise" is, fittingly, a giant book: Some 400-odd pages of primary text, plus almost another hundred pages of endnotes and bibliographical comments. In the author's choice to explore several of the most extraordinary of "self-made" capitalists from American history (Carnegie, Eastman, Ford, Watson, Revson, Walton, and Noyce), he offers a textbook-quality examination of each case study -- but that is the book's predominant shortcoming, too. It is so very long and exhaustive that the reader is challenged to find a true common thread among all seven subjects. They are each intriguing individually, and even a good student of business history is likely to learn something new. But the central thesis of the book -- that these "Giants of Enterprise" stand apart because they either invented breakthrough technologies or applied those technologies in novel ways -- isn't the strongest common thread to bind them all together.

Verdict: The conclusion is supported well and the stories are worth reading, but it would have been better as seven short books in a series rather than one exhausting tome.