Executive Times

Volume 4, Issue 12

December, 2002

 

ă 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC

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Gratitude

The business press delivered scores of stories about individual and corporate philanthropy in recent weeks, presenting a variety of perspectives about giving. Business Week’s 12/2 cover story (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_48/b3810001.htm) focused on the increased involvement of individual executive givers in the causes and organizations supported. BW ranked wealthy donors by an estimated percentage of net worth given, and added a list of laggards. Do the editors expect that this comparative approach will lead to more giving? We’ll see. Robbie Shell, editor of Knowledge@Wharton, proposes a corporate challenge in The Wall Street Journal (11/26/02) (http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1038252499367398428.djm,00.html) that would pit hard-driving executives against each other in producing results by personal involvement in measurable community service projects. The topic of corporate philanthropy is raised in the 12/9 issue of Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/home/2002/11/21/cx_aw_1121give.html) that lists companies by both percentage of operating income donated and cash amounts given. This is a great time of year to think about your personal and corporate giving, and plan for 2003 donations.

 

Thanks to revenue from Executive Times subscribers, buyers of books through our amazon.com links, and clients of Hopkins & Company, we’ve continued our annual practice of making a donation to a non-profit organization as a special holiday thanks to our clients and friends. This year’s donation was 18% higher than last year’s, and was made to the House of the Good Shepherd, which helps women and children break the cycle of domestic violence through participation in an intensive three-month residential program. The House produced an 88% success rate during 2002. If you’d like to join us in supporting this fine organization, you can send your contribution to:

House of the Good Shepherd

P.O. Box 13453

Chicago, IL 60613

This month we present our annual book issue. Sixteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 2. We read, reviewed and listed 179 books in Executive Times during 2002. We recap the best and worst books we read this year. We also include a section listing some of the books we look forward to reading in 2003. This is also the time of year when we update our Shelf of Reproach: the books we started to read this year, but set aside for one reason or another. For space reasons, pictures of book jackets are eliminated from the print version of Executive Times. To follow all links, and see the version with jacket pictures, visit www.hopkinsandcompany.com/archive/archive1202.htm.

You can also visit our 2002 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/bookshelf.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 2002 book reviews.

 

Latest Books Read and Reviewed

Title (Link to Review)

Author

Rating

Review Summary

Purchase

Tricky Business

Barry, Dave

Treading Water. 12 funny pages out of 300, the best of which are sidebars to the plot. Barry does better when brief. Eclectic cast of South Florida weirdos.

P.G. County

Briscoe, Connie

Appearances. Briscoe uses all the demographics of the real D.C. suburb, Princes Georges County, Maryland, to portray characters who fit the locale and for whom appearances make all the difference.

No Way to Treat a First Lady

Buckley, Christopher

Chuckles. Laugh out loud as Buckley returns to DC and the trial of Lady Bethmac, who’s on trial for the murder of her husband, a philandering U.S. President. Sex, lawyers, media, and the Lincoln bedroom.

Summerland

Chabon, Michael

Take Me Out. Master writer Chabon tries a children’s book, fails to reach the heights of E.B. White or J.R.R. Tolkien, but delivers a enjoyable, magical story of baseball, good and evil, and coming of age. Great to read aloud to kids over many weeks.

Unnatural Leadership: Going Against Instinct and Experience to Develop Ten New Leadership Instincts

Dotlich, David L. and Peter C. Cairo

Buzz. Long on the what, short on the how, but some solid concepts and thought-stimulating ideas. Up to you to figure out how to accomplish what they suggest, and what doesn’t come naturally.

Showdown

Elder, Larry

Jeffersonian. If you’re looking to read an articulate, clear and direct presentation of Libertarian ideas on race, education, welfare and politics, this is the book for you.

Agap Agape

Gaddis, William

Last Words. Stream of consciousness and multi-page run-on sentences by late author who saw player piano as harmful to artists.

In America’s Court

Geoghegan, Thomas

Quirky. Civil lawyer Geoghegan agrees to help a criminal attorney with a case. Despite a writing style that’s often distracting, Geoghegan’s observations and reflections leaves readers thinking about society.

Q is for Quarry

Grafton, Sue

Junk Food. Detective Kinsey Millhone returns to eat loads of junk food and solve an old murder that leads her to connections with her own family.

Hesselbein on Leadership

Hesselbein, Frances

Few and Powerful Words. Collection of essays full of thoughtful and provoking, clear-headed thinking, well-grounded in values.

Extravagance

Krist, Gary

To Market, To Market. Masterful story of the market and players in 1690s London and 1990s New York. Clever, timely, witty presentation of character and moral behavior.

The Miracle

L’Heureux, John

Journeys. Superb writing with multiple levels of meaning, rich cadences of language and clear images. Readers looking for a story of life and death, redemption and transformation will enjoy every page.

July, July

O’Brien, Tim

Now, and Then. Rich portraits of a dozen characters who gather in Minnesota for their 30th college reunion, and how events from 1969 formed their characters. Realistic dialogue and poignant revelation of real people.

Shrink Rap

Parker, Robert B.

Therapeutic. Sunny Randall returns to protect a writer from the stalking of her ex-husband and psychiatrist. If you can overlook Parker’s male clumsiness in writing as a female narrator, give this some attention.

Toward Commitment: A Dialogue About Marriage

Rehm, Diane  and John Rehm

Eavesdropping. Listen in on reflections and dialogue about marriage from radio talk show host and retired lawyer. Unless your own relationship is in deep trouble, or unless your morbid sense of curiosity about someone else’s marital reality is strong, take a pass.

December 6

Smith, Martin Cruz

Loyalty. Fine writing revealing human nature from characters steeped in different cultures. Life in Japan prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, mostly through the eyes of the black sheep son of American missionaries.

 

 

Best Books of 2002

Title (Link to Review)

Author

Rating

Issue

Review Summary

Purchase

Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Goleman, Daniel, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee

 

Jun 02

Outstanding presentation of the effective use of leadership styles. Authors present a strong case for why organizations need resonant leaders, and provide practical, usable information to help one become a better leader.

Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing

Badaracco, Jr., Joseph L.

Apr 02

Lots of leadership books focus on heroes. Badaracco presents those everyday challenges that ordinary people face with all life’s ambiguity. Useful and realistic.

Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School

Burkett, Elinor

Feb 02

Well-written chronology of Burkett’s participant-observation at Prior Lake H.S. outside Minneapolis from 9/99 through 6/00. Breaks stereotypes and helps readers think.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate

Caro, Robert A.

Oct 02

Hands On. At 4 pounds and 1,040 pages of text, there are ample stories and examples in this well written presentation of how Lyndon Johnson transformed the use of power in the United States Senate.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t

Collins, Jim

Mar 02

“Much of what we’re doing is at best a waste of time.” Read Good to Great and find out from this well-researched book what works and what’s a waste of energy.

20/20 Foresight: Crafting Strategy in an Uncertain World

Courtney, Hugh

Jan 02

McKinsey and Company consultant Hugh Courtney proposes ways to develop strategy within a context of four levels of uncertainty. He presents approaches to answering five key questions.

When I Was a Young Man: A Memoir

Kerrey, Bob

Jul 02

When you read this book, you’ll understand why and how a patriotic, loyal Republican, became a Democrat, and how a war changed the attitudes of a generation about their government and its policies.

The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations

Kotter, John P. and Dan S. Cohen

Oct 02

Pumping. Kotter proposes more feeling and less thinking to accomplish large-scale change. Lots of brief and memorable stories from real workers and managers to show how each proposed step can be carried out.

dot.bomb: My Days and Nights at an Internet Goliath

Kuo, J. David

Feb 02

Entertaining tale of how Craig Winn led Value America toward success and failure, with Kuo trying to help.

Crow Lake

Lawson, Mary

May 02

Terrific first novel full of taut emotions, complicated relationships, life and love set in Northern Ontario.

John Adams

McCullough

Apr 02

Read this outstanding biography of the second U.S. President and watch yourself go from respect and admiration to liking him, despite how hard he was to get along with.

Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War

Miller, Judith

Jan 02

A comprehensive investigative story about the development of biological weapons that have the power to destroy all human life.

The Dive from Clausen’s Pier

Packer, Ann

Jul 02

Packer delivers characters, scenes, and dialogue with precision in this great debut novel.

Unless

Shields, Carol

Jun 02

Poignant novel of a woman’s struggle with loss. Extraordinary writing about ordinary life from author dying of breast cancer.

What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States

Simon, James F.

Jun 02

Fascinating and interesting book that transports readers to the crises early in U.S. history, especially Jefferson’s push for the supremacy of state’s rights, and Marshall’s position on strong central government and an independent judiciary.

Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism and September 11th

Stewart, James B.

Nov 02

He Gave His Life. Each person who died on 9/11 had a personal story. Stewart presents a biography of one man, Rick Rescorla, who died in the WTC. Finely written. If there’s only one 9/11 book you’ll read, make it this one.

The Story of Lucy Gault

Trevor, William

Nov 02

Moving. 235 tightly written pages about love, loss, guilt and forgiveness in 20th century Ireland. Depth of understanding of human nature combine with rich description and character development.

Tepper Isn’t Going Out

Trillin, Calvin

Mar 02

Funny New York situation comedy with great dialogue, imaginative situations, memorable characters and fine writing.

 

Worst Books of 2002

 

Title (Link to Review)

Author

Rating

Issue

Review Summary

Purchase

F’d Companies: Spectaculr dot-com flameouts

Kaplan, Philip J.

DNR

Sep 02

Superficial chronicle of stupid things companies did by author with juvenile potty mouth writing style.

Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad

McCourt, Malachy

 

 

DNR

May 02

100 double-spaced pages of rambling drivel that a reader couldn’t care about. Consider as a gift to someone named Dan whom you don’t like.

The Provocateur: How a Generation of Leaders Are Building Communities, Not Just Companies

Weber, Larry

 

 

 

DNR

Apr 02

Factless observations, not unlike the worst of Tom Peters: reflections on his own consumer experiences, and generalizations that the rest of us could care less about.

Books for 2003

 

Title

Author

Comments

Purchase

Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders

Bennis, Warren G. and Robert J. Thomas

Leadership guru Bennis explores how era and values shape those who lead, from the shadow of the Depression and World War II to the glow of computer screens. Illustrated with interviews with executives over age 70 and under age 35.

The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany

Beschloss, Michael

New documents and almost a dozen years of work add new information to old stories.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Bossidy, Larry and Ram Charan

Honeywell Chair Larry Bossidy and consultant Charan team up to tell executives how to execute, especially in the core processes of people, strategy and operations.

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron

Bruce, Robert

Will we read another Enron story? Pipe Dreams is supposed to be funny and irreverent, and presents an answer to the question: why did Enron fail?

Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II

Conant, Jennet

The story of Alfred Loomis, a Wall Street tycoon and amateur scientist, whose interest in physics created a private lab and led to the production of radar that helped the Allies win World War II.

Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril

Ferris, Timothy

If you’re at all interested in amateur astronomy, or getting to know the night sky, Ferris presents a description of what’s out there, and what others are seeing.

Leadership

Giuliani, Rudolph W.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani lays out fourteen leadership principles and practices that worked for him, and could work for others. Peppered with stories and examples that should make this quick to read and remember.

Benjamin Franklin

Morgan, Edmund S.

Prolific, distinguished historian Morgan presents the contradictions of Ben Franklin in this new biography, and how consistently Franklin placed the public interest above his own.

Memoirs

Rockefeller, David

First time that a Rockefeller has told his own story. Soft-spoken former Chair and CEO of Chase, philanthropist, and influencer of world leaders, speaks of his 87 years in this 500 page memoir.

Reversible Errors

Turow, Scott

It’s been three years, and finally, another novel from Turow. Can’t wait to zip through this one over a weekend.

 

The Shelf of Reproach for 2002

 

Title

Author

Comments

Purchase

Koba the Dread: Laugher and the Twenty Million

Amis, Martin

Something about the combination of Stalin and Amis turned sour after forty some odd pages, and we gave up.

Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Creative Minds

Bloom, Harold

The mosaic hung around for a few weeks unopened. Our creative mind remained closed to this story.

The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and The New American Dream

Brands, H.W.

Liked Brands’ last book, so picked this one up, and then put it down. Dreamed of other things.

Baudolino

Eco, Umberto

Kept repeating that we should read this, we really should, and paged through a little, but never sat down with it.

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Ellsberg, Daniel

Really wanted to read this reflection on what led Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon Papers, but got as far as page 12, yawning all the way.

Swimming Across

Grove, Andrew S.

After eight chapters, got tired of cute, pudgy Andy, and wanted to jump ahead.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Hillenbrand, Laura

Fatigue set in after five chapters, and even the jockey’s whip couldn’t motivate us to move into the backstretch.

Churchill: A Biography

Jenkins, Roy

By page 89, I had opened my dictionary three times to check the meaning of Jenkins’ well-chosen words. Like Churchill, but not enough to devote the time and attention to this massive biography.

Family Matters

Mistry, Rohinton

Read a review or two, saw this short-listed for some awards, and never bothered cracking the cover. Must have been preoccupied with own family matters.

Prague

Phillips, Arthur

With struggle, achieved page 25 before losing all interest. The 1990s lost generation was lost on us.

Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich

Phillips, Kevin

Got as far as reading the book jacket. Sounded interesting, but not worth the time.

Globalization and its Discontents

Stiglitz, Joseph E.

Reading this felt like taking medicine, but not while sick. Moved on to tastier pages elsewhere.

 

ă 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC.  Executive Times is published monthly by Hopkins and Company, LLC at the company’s office at 723 North Kenilworth Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60302. Subscription rate for first class mail delivery of the print version is $60.00 per year (12 issues). Web version subscriptions are $30.00 per year. Single issues: $10.00 print; $5.00 web. To subscribe, sign up at www.hopkinsandcompany.com/subscribe.html, send an e-mail to executivetimes@hopkinsandcompany.com, call (708) 466-4650, or fax to (708) 386-8687. For permission to photocopy or e-mail Executive Times, call (708) 466-4650 or e-mail to reprints@hopkinsandcompany.com. We will send sample copies if requested. The company’s website at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/archives.html contains the archives of back issues beginning in the month after the issue date. 

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