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Heroes & Scoundrels

Business biographies selected and reviewed by Report on Business writer Andrew Allentuck.

Testosterone Inc.. Stories of CEOs Gone Wild

Wheel, Deal, and Steal is a great read. It's a fine summary of the fin de siècle mood of investors to go for broke and of the greed investment community that made sure many did just that.
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Wheel, Deal, and Steal

Wheel, Deal, and Steal is a great read. It's a fine summary of the fin de siècle mood of investors to go for broke and of the greed investment community that made sure many did just that.
Read the full review

Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America

Pigs at the Trough is summer reading, a batch of memorable one liners, nothing too deep, nothing challenging, but lovely to read and, in parts, luscious enough to make you want to move your lips pronouncing Ms Huffington's puns. This book is more flake than fact, but porcine insults aside, it is great if brief entertainment.
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The Economics of E-Commerce: A Strategic Guide to Understanding and Designing the Online Marketplace

The Economics of E-Commerce is really a textbook for postgraduate economics. But in its sophistication, it's a valuable analysis of how e-commerce works in economic terms. Corporate e-traders can learn much from it. Well-written, it is accessible to anyone with a couple of years of economics under his or her belt.
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On Target: How the World's Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull's-Eye by Laura Rowley

The theme of On Target is that Minnesota-based Target is a fun place to shop with great designs, brilliant management, community spirit, tough negotiators, and stores that are less obstacle courses - think Wal-Mart Stores here - than pleasure palaces. Target is not measured by price alone, which is Wal-Mart's zeitgeist. But as it matures, Ms Rowley says, it may be hard for Target to be a store for folks who want paper towels at the lowest possible price and cheap yuppies who want designer jeans at deep discount prices. On Target is thus a good read with plenty of tattle for name chasers, some analytical depth for students of retailing, and just enough financial information to make it useful to an investor who is searching for more exposure to U.S. megastores.
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Martha Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

As a piece of financial analysis, Martha Inc. is compelling advice to put money someplace other than her ailing company. Martha's winning streak is probably past. If this lady of 62 has a financial future, it's likely to be brief. Sic transit gloria mommy.
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The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America

Mr. Berenson tells the story of the lust for earnings with scholarship and style. The Number will be one of the best business books and surely the most readable accounting book of the year. For investors who want to know why their Xerox almost went under and why Enron did, this is gripping stuff. For everyone else, just a great read.
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[book cover]The Murdoch Mission: The Digital Transformation of a Media Empire

Author Wendy Goldman Rohm's take on Mr. Murdoch is respectful more than friendly, but she pulls her punches even as she convicts him of nepotism (his son Lachlan is the operating head of the firm), ruthless competitiveness, and financial opportunism. She dutifully lists the major criticisms of Murdoch, then closes with her subject's own statment of motive. "...Never be boring," he says. Ms. Rohm, with a tabloid writer's eye for detail, is anything but.
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[book cover]The Warren Buffett CEO: Secrets for the Berkshire Hathaway Managers

Management manuals tend to be books for times you run out of sleeping pills. This book is an exception. It is vivid and clear, the product of immense research and much thought. Its ideas are provocative for anyone interested in financial managment, human resources and corporate relations.
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[book cover]Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Icon

Empire may be one of the best business books of the year. Mitchell Pacelle's skill is to make the whole, complicated tangle of purchase and ownership of the building understandable and its cast of characters clear enough at least to have motives. The story is spellbinding. For a great read over the holidays or for advice on how not to do real estate deals, get Empire. It's a book you won't be able to put down.
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[book cover]Can't Buy Me Love; How Martha Billes Made Canadian Tire Hers

Rod McQueen, a gifted investigative journalist, delves into the question of what drives Martha Billes as entrepreneur and queen of Canadian Tire. Along the way, he investigates the car parts business, Canadian retailing, and the operations of what some would say is the core of Ms. Billes' life - her frustration in her quest for one good man.
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The Six Sigma Revolution: How General Electric and Others Turned Process into Profits

The Six Sigma Revolution is not the first exploration of six sigma in a corporate history, but for investors able to handle a modest level of analysis of normal bell curves and standard deviations, it is a provocative way of analyzing what public companies, especially manufacturers, do with their capital.
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Blood, Sweat & Tears: The Evolution of Work

For a quiet evening with pipe in hand and dog at foot Blood, Sweat and Tears is an intelligent, even delicious read. Mr. Donkin has turned the dull as nails question of what labour is through history into a page-turner of a book.
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John Jacob Astor: America's First Multimillionaire

… the Astor family is now just part of the furniture of wealth of society balls in Europe and the United States. Author Madsen, an experienced biographer, weaves the family into the fabric history. The research is strong, the writing charming. It's a great read.
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[ Book Cover ]No Guts, No Glory: How Canada's Greatest CEOs Built Their Empires

Deeply research, written with verve and much forethought and planning, No Guts, No Glory is superb, probably the best book of business history this year. For a gift or for many evenings of provocative reading, one can hardly do better than to get a copy.
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Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger

Damn Right! is a good read. For the investor who wants to spend a pleasant evening with a fine financial mind or as gift for the experienced investor, it's a great buy.
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[ Book Cover ]The Little Book of Business Wisdom

For a brief, scholarly collection of capsules of the thoughts of business leaders past and present, read The Little Book of Business Wisdom.
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[ Book Cover ]Inside Home Depot: How One Company Revolutionized an Industry Through the Relentless Pursuit of Growth

Mr. Roush explains to Home Depot customers, suppliers, staff and investors how the firm grew into the colossus that it is. It's a fascinating read that's hard to put down.
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[ Book Cover ]How To Be A Billionaire: Proven Strategies from the Titans of Wealth

The value of this book lies in the great stories of how many of today's empires were built. That's what makes How To Be A Billionaire a compelling read.
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[ Book Cover ]The Vulture Investors

Ms. Rosenberg's story is compelling, her lessons valuable. For the investor who considers buying assets other won't touch, her book is essential reading.
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[Book Cover]Titans: How the New Canadian Establishment Seized Power

This is the last volume in the Canadian Establishment series. Focussing on new money and those who have it, Mr. Newman writes with sweeping command of fact and language about the decline of old family dynasties and the rise of new entrepreneurs. "The Old Establishment was so easy on itself," he writes. "Few of its leading operatives were ever punished for being stupid, incompetent or both."
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[ Book Cover ]Inventing Money: The Story of Long-Term Capital Management and the Legends Behind It

Inventing Money is a breathtaking story told with remarkable skill. Dunbar, trained as a physicist, unravels the mathematics that led to the huge debts and collapse of Long-Term Capital Management. It should be read by every serious investor.
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[ Book Cover ]A Random Walk Down Wall Street

A Random Walk Down Wall Street a classic that every serious investor should read.
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[ Book Cover ]Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Against the Gods is a guide to much more than making money in jumpy markets. It is a lesson on the meaning of history, a commentary on hope and fear, and an essay on the vanities of the educated who think they can tell where chance events are leading. It can change the life of anyone who understands it.
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[ Book Cover ]The Warren Buffet Portfolio

Rich in insights into the behaviour of both companies and investors, The Warren Buffet Portfolio has the power to transfer some of the master's wisdom and techniques to readers.
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[ Book Cover ]The Rediscovered Benjamin Graham: Selected Writings of the Wall Street Legend

Ms. Lowe has repackaged one of history's greatest money managers in a brilliant compilation. After the pleasure of reading The Rediscovered Benjamin Graham, an investor will see the market more clearly and can probably make more money."
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