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Best Business Books of 2006

Best Business Books of 2006

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DECEMBER 18, 2006

Wal-Mart would be nowhere without the metal box. When experts look for the factors behind the recent vast increase in world trade,
they tend to point to such things as new communications technology and the advance of Third World capitalism. But, says author
Marc Levinson, there's another, often-overlooked cause: the shipping container. In the early 1960s, before the now-ubiquitous can
was much employed, moving goods from one country to another was often prohibitively expensive. Today freight costs are all but
negligible. In The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Princeton
University), Levinson delivers an engrossing account of how this came to be. Of particular note is his chronicle of Malcom P. McLean,
a North Carolina truck driver who built a freight empire and then, 50 years ago, gambled everything to create the first company with
containerized ships.

You say you would rather think out of the box? Well, Levinson's work is only one of the top 10 business books of the year as selected
byBu s in e ssW e e k reviewers.
2006 produced a bumper crop of memoirs and biographies. A pioneer of capitalist creativity is described in Hershey: Milton S.
Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams by Michael D'Antonio (Simon & Schuster). This is a richly

detailed look at the chocolate man and an absorbing history of his company. By the late 1890s, Hershey had figured out that the
future lay not in caramels, which he first made, but in chocolate, which had already claimed a mass market in Europe. D'Antonio
describes how Hershey perfected a distinctive version of the stuff and had sales approaching $8 million by 1913. The author also
devotes considerable ink to the Pennsylvania town Hershey designed according to his utopian principles. By the early 1900s, the
manicured burg featured electrified, centrally heated homes owned by well-paid company workers, a state-of-the-art chocolate
factory, a medical clinic, and, as its centerpiece, a model school for orphan boys supported by a foundation that held the majority of
company stock.

A much better known capitalist and philanthropist is the subject of David Nasaw's absorbing Andrew Carnegie (Penguin Press). By
the time of his death, in 1919, Carnegie had bequeathed a total of $350 million, or at least $8 billion in today's dollars. "My business
is to do as much good in the world as I can," he announced. But as Nasaw shows, Carnegie's roles as philanthropist and rapacious
businessman were closely linked. He pushed his partners and his employees relentlessly, so that he could give away even more
money. He did his best to monopolize steel production, fix prices, and restrict foreign steel with tariffs. He extolled leisure for all, yet
he fought bitterly against steelworkers' attempts to cut their 12-hour days to 8 hours. The book is a meticulous account of a
paradoxical American original.

You can read about a mogul who turned his fortune to very different ends in The Sack of Rome: How a Beautiful European
Country with a Fabled History and a Storied Culture Was Taken Over by a Man Named Silvio Berlusconi by veteran journalist

Alexander Stille (Penguin Press). As Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, Berlusconi owned or controlled all six of Italy's national
television networks, or 90% of the country's airwaves. But here, Berlusconi comes across not as a talented CEO but as an
unscrupulous salesman who ruthlessly deploys cronyism for maximum financial gain, exploits media power to attack rivals, and
changes laws to derail criminal lawsuits against himself. At the same time, readers come to understand Berlusconi's showman-like
appeal. Said reviewer Gail Edmondson: "The Sack of Rome is a frightening case study and one that has plenty of bearing on our
own media-driven politics."

One other biography focuses on a living legend: Andrew S. Grove, the former Intel CEO. In Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an
American (Portfolio), Harvard Business School historian Richard S. Tedlow takes a comprehensive look at the tech titan's life and

work, providing greater entr\u00e9e than ever before into Grove's mind. Tedlow tracks the passage of young Andr\u00e1s Istv\u00e1n Gr\u00f3f from
communist Hungary to the U.S., his schooling, and his early years at Intel Corp., (INTC ) where he became operations director under
co-founders Robert Noyce and Gordon E. Moore. Later chapters describe the company's growth pains, various crises, and struggles

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Best Business Books of 2006
Power players, Wall Street workings, and the Internet's impact
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Best Business Books of 2006
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