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BOOK REVIEW #49 – Business Adventures by John Brooks

Originally published in 1969, Business Adventures by John Brooks became a best-seller two decades later when Bill Gates called it, ‘old, hard to find, and the best business book ever.’

Business Adventures, that you can buy here, is a classic, unlike any business book that you may have read. It does not share any secrets and sorceries to be successful. Neither does it provide any tips to enhance your business skills.

Why exactly is it then raved by the business tycoons?

In each chapter of Business Adventures, John Brooks tells an incredible anecdote that left an influential mark in the history of the business world.

The Fluctuation: The Little Crash in ’62- An interesting account of bizarre events where the stock market crashed and recovered in only three days. Brooks highlights how investors’ irrationality and stock market unpredictability dictated the biggest chaos of the time.

The Fate of the Edsel: A Cautionary Tale- When an enterprise as big as Ford launched a product that failed immensely even after much hype, research, and marketing, there are many lessons to learn.

The Federal Income Tax: Its History and Peculiarities- Ever since its inception, the tax system has become more twisted, more complicated and more unfair to the middle class. Brooks explains the perplexity and presents a solution which in simple words says, ‘let’s start over.’

A Reasonable Amount of Time: Insiders at Texas Gulf Sulphur- Ever wondered what prompted the law against insider trading? The Texas Gulf Scandal is not a story to be missed.

Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox- From its launch in 1959, Xerox went through many stages. It skyrocketed the market and then saw its downfall within a few years. The story of Xerox is a great example of how success associated with groundbreaking innovation can only be sustained by continuous evolution.

Making the Customers Whole: The Death of a President- This chapter tells the story of an unprecedented event in the history of the business world. Read it to find how after the death of President Kennedy, the New York Stock Exchange saved a brokerage company to avoid financial turmoil in a state of national panic.

The Impacted Philosophers: Non-Communication at GE- in the late 1950s, General Electric colluded with 29 electronic companies and executed a big price-fixing scandal. Brooks shows how the blame was cleverly put on ‘communication error’.

The Last Great Corner: A Company called Piggly Wiggly- Clarence Saunders patented the idea of a self-service supermarket called Piggly Wiggly. The idea was a huge success and was spreading with an increased number of franchises. Brooks tells us how stockholders used a ‘bear raid’ to corner Piggly Wiggly.

A Second Sort of Life: David E. Lilienthal, Businessman- This story is the fairy tale of the Business Adventures, where a knight in shining armor shows the world how to do business and serve humanity with success.

Stockholder Season: Annual Meetings and Corporate Power- Stockholders can exercise so much power but instead, the whole system is nothing but a ‘farce’. This denies stockholders the authority to make a difference. How that is done, learn in this chapter.

One Free Bite: A Man, his Knowledge, and his Job- Goodrich sued its employee Donald Wohlgemuth for joining its competitor company International Latex. However, in an interesting twist of events the case led to founding employee’s rights for the future.

In Defense of Sterling: The Bankers, the Pound, and the Dollar- British Pound Sterling was once a valued unit got under attack by financial speculators. And, even the unified efforts of central bankers could not save it.

If you need an insight into the most interesting events in the history of the business world, Business Adventures is for you. Business Adventures will help you understand some of the enigmas of the business world. Reading all the stories that happened decades ago, you will realize that even in a changing business world, most human behaviors are still the same.

These are not your regular dull and dry case studies, in a unique story-telling way, Brooks shares with us lessons that are timeless and universal in the business landscape.

Reviewed by;

Tonny Rutakirwa,


Tonniez Group Holdings,

Serving since 28th December 2008.

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