Executive Times

Volume 6, Issue 12

December, 2004


ã 2004 Hopkins and Company, LLC

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Thanks to revenue from Executive Times subscriptions, 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 not-for-profit organization as a special holiday thanks to our clients and friends. This year’s donation was made to the House of the Good Shepherd, a program that helps women and children break the cycle of domestic violence through participation in an intensive three-month residential program. 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

You can check out this organization on www.guidestar.org, under “Sisters of the Good Shepherd-Chicago.” Guidestar is a national database of nonprofit organizations. The cover story (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/toc/04_48/B39100448philanthropy.htm) of the November 29 issue of Business Week lists America’s top philanthropists, as well as a ranking of corporate donors. The cover story of the November 29 issue of Barrons (http://online.barrons.com/article/SB110151630453084555.html) describes how some nonprofits are changing as a result of the approach of new philanthropists.


This month we present our annual book issue, which many readers use to purchase holiday gifts through our online links to amazon.com. (Another gift idea is a subscription to Executive Times.) Fifteen new books are rated in this issue. We read, reviewed and listed a total of 180 books in Executive Times during 2004, including recent reviews beginning on page 5. We recap in this issue 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 2005. This is also the time of year when we update our Shelf of Reproach: the books we feel a little guilty for not reading. We’ve also updated the Shelf of Ennui: those books we touched, but never finished for various reasons and feel not the slightest bit guilty for taking a pass. Selections from those lists are highlighted in this issue. To follow all links in this issue, visit the web version located at: http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/archive/archive1204.htm.

You can also visit our 2004 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2004books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 2004 book reviews. Happy Holidays!


Best Books of 2004

Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

Christensen, Clayton M. and Michael E. Raynor

Using Theory. Dozens of tough questions about innovation explored, theory explained, success and failure illustrated, conclusions drawn, and sources documented in footnotes galore. Advice to think about and use in growing your organization.

The Wisdom of Crowds

Surowiecki, James

Collective. Groups are smarter than the smartest person in them, and you can create wise groups by fostering diversity of opinion, independence, decentralization and aggregation. Top rating for good writing, facts and examples, stimulation of thinking, and opportunity to act on what reader learns.

The Summer Guest

Cronin, Justin

Restoration. Finest novel read so far this year. Six characters narrate current and past experiences at a fishing camp in rural Maine. Each character receives redemption or restoration from the caring love of another.

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Kidder, Tracy

Over the Top. Fine writing by talented writer about the amazing life and work of Paul Farmer, a medical doctor and anthropologist working in Haiti for the past two decades, and how his methods for community-based treatment of communicable disease have changed international medicine.

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

Watkins, Michael

Turbo. Great approach for making transitions faster and more effective by moving beyond sink or swim toward well-structured steps based on what’s worked for others. Get copies for both manager and new hire.

Beyond the Core: Expand Your Market Without Abandoning Your Roots

Zook, Chris

Repeatability. Case studies, data, advice, and CEO lessons learned in implementing growth strategies, based on a decade of research about 2,000 companies.



Worst Books of 2004

Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


The Present: The Gift That Makes You Happy and Successful At Work and In Life

Johnson, Spencer


Carpe Today. You have better ways to spend your time than spending even an hour reading another simplistic message from this popular writer. It’s mostly about “now,” except when about “then,” or about a gift. Take a pass.

The Dumbest Moments in Business History

Horowitz, Adam

Dim. Some chuckles and a few yuks, but not nearly as amusing as the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business listed in Business 2.0 that led to this book. Silent on the whole S&L debacle: how dumb is that?

The world's most powerful leadership principle : how to become a servant leader

Hunter, James C.

Preachy. Hunter tries to persuade readers to embrace the servant model of leadership by using preachy persuasion rather than facts. Sounds good, but not convincing.

Autumn of the Moguls

Wolff, Michael

Vacuous. Participant-observer’s account of players and action in big media by author of New York Magazine column, This Media Life. Read only if your interest in media companies and characters is high, or if your curiosity about mega-mergers hasn’t been sated.


Selected Books for 2005

from http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html Click on jacket cover to purchase.



The Shelf of Reproach 2004

Selected books we should have read, but didn’t, and feel a little guilty about, from http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2004 Shelf of Reproach.html


Title: Click to Purchase


Thomas Jefferson

Appleby, Joyce Oldham

You Remind Me of Me

Chaon, Dan

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Clarke, Susanna

Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever

Cuomo, Mario M.

The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron

McLean, Bethany

The Double

Saramago, Jose

Fortune Favors the Bold: What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity

Thurow, Lester C.


 The Shelf of Ennui 2004

Selected books we didn’t read because we got bored, and don’t care, from

http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2004 Shelf of Ennui.html


Title: Click to Purchase



Blackburn, Simon

Lucrezia Borgia : life, love, and death in Renaissance Italy

Bradford, Sarah

The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

Greider, William

The (mis)behavior of markets : a fractal view of risk, ruin, and reward

Mandelbrot, Benoit B. and Richard L. Hudson

Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the Winning of the Great War at Sea

Massie, Robert K.

Tragic Indifference: One Man’s Battle with the Auto Industry Over the Dangers of SUVs

Penenberg, Adam L.

The White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the President

Prados, John

The Stranger at the Palazzo d’Oro and Other Stories

Theroux, Paul

Branded Nation

Twitchell, James B.


Latest Books Read and Reviewed:

 (Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers to order copies directly from amazon.com.  When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com.  Click on the title to read the review or visit our 2004 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2004books.html).


Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


The Inner Circle

Boyle, T.C.

Loveless. Novel presents obsessed professor Kinsey and the workers and spouses who formed the inner circle of the pioneering sex studies of the 1950’s. Loyalty, idealism, intertwined relationships and fine writing.

Florence of Arabia

Buckley, Christopher

Amat. Plenty of laughs as few targets remain unscathed in this politically incorrect novel of the clash of American and Middle Eastern politics, culture, and values.

Losing America : Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency

Byrd, Robert C.

Power. Senator Byrd preaches eloquently about the importance of the balance of power and how the Executive branch is becoming dominant with the cooperation of a compliant Congress.

Washington’s Crossing

Fischer, David Hackett

Reversals. Revolutionary War history buffs will revel in this finely written work, especially the author’s description of a distinctly American way of war.

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

Hendra, Tony

Stability. Finely written memoir by former National Lampoon writer as a tribute to Benedictine monk Joseph Warrilow, who provided stability and support for Hendra through four decades.

The Last Duel

Jager, Eric

Engrossing. Realistic, sometimes gory, details of the last legally sanctioned duel in 1386 makes medieval France come alive for readers.

Flying Crows

Lehrer, Jim

Birdie. Novel spans 20th century to reveal the past of two mental asylum inmates. Rich in description and drama, but plot plods.


Paolini, Christopher

Debut. 544 entertaining pages from teenage author. Familiar themes, but creative characters, suspenseful plot and descriptive language.

The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

Perrottet, Tony

Mettle. Witty and informative description of the original games when the mettle of the athletes was more important than medals. Good description of Greek life at the time and all aspects of the festivities.

Eating crow : a novel

Rayner, Jay

Sorry. Light and unusual novel of restaurant critic who turns professional apologizer following his apology for the suicide of a chef after a biting review.

The Plot Against America

Roth, Philip

Sensational. Engaging novel of what life might have been like, especially for Jews, had Lindbergh been elected President in 1940 instead of Roosevelt. Fine writing and parallels to today’s homeland security anxiety.

Bergdorf Blondes

Sykes, Plum

Bouncy. Light laughs and perfect escapist entertainment, full of tales of love, shopping, and the struggles of the uber-wealthy.

City Boy

Thompson, Jean

Yup. Well-crafted novel of the deteriorating relationship between two unappealing urban Chicago yuppies.


Updike, John

Caring. Well-written novel of seven decades of Owen Mackenzie’s New England life, from a slow coming of age to a gentle and caring maturity.

George Herbert Walker Bush

Wicker, Tom

Friend. From the Penguin Lives series, a biography that captures the 41st U.S. President as a friend who made friends.


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