A damning, highly readable account of a once-great company brought to its knees by bad leadership.



Corporate malfeasance brings mayhem to the friendly skies in Bloombergcorrespondent Robison’s revealing exposé.

“Commercial aircraft are considered the world’s premier expression of manufacturing excellence,” writes the author, each plane involving the work of thousands of people. They are also made by massive and now near-monopolistic corporations whose fundamental duty, the ethos has it, is to maximize return to shareholders. There’s built-in conflict in a culture of builders committed to safety as against a culture of bean counters committed to shaving every conceivable cost and getting rid of anyone who questions them. So it was with the Boeing 737 MAX, a passenger plane built on the framework of the lithe 737. The newly released aircraft immediately caused the deaths of 346 people, and the investigation of the two crashes involved revealed both that “software had overridden humans” and that the Federal Aviation Administration had essentially turned over its watchdog functions to Boeing itself. Meanwhile, owing to a merger with former rival McDonnell Douglas and its much different corporate culture, Boeing’s executive ranks were filled with “skilled infighters” who displaced former executives less skilled in “the dark arts of corporate one-upmanship.” The new company was headed by a CEO who’d come from General Electric and “frequently lectured people about how Boeing needed to be a ‘team,’ not a ‘family.’ ” The cancellation of orders of the 737 MAX after the accidents cost Boeing billions of dollars in lost sales. Even so, writes Robison in his rigorous investigative report, the aircraft “will likely become common in airline fleets over the next several years”—American airline fleets, that is. As the author notes, Boeing was fined $2.5 billion for criminal fraud after company pilots lied to the FAA about that software, and the company has recently suffered more from competition from international companies believed to offer safer aircraft.

A damning, highly readable account of a once-great company brought to its knees by bad leadership.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54649-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.


Investigative reporter Franklin recounts the life of the free-spirited millionaire entrepreneur who used his fabulous wealth in the fight to save nature.

One constant in the epic life of North Face founder Doug Tompkins (1943-2015) was his enduring love of the outdoors. The son of a successful antiques dealer, he grew up in the countryside of Millbrook, New York (Timothy Leary was a neighbor), where he cultivated his love of the natural world. His contrarian ways eventually led to his expulsion from high school just weeks before graduation. Tompkins headed West, where he baled hay in Montana, raced Olympic skiers in the Rockies, and took up rock climbing in California. He also “hitchhiked by airplane throughout South America.” Tompkins ended up in San Francisco, where, by the mid-1960s, the skiing and climbing supplies business he started with the help of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard suddenly began to boom. He was a charismatic businessman, and every one of his ventures after that—from his wife’s Plain Jane dress company to his own Esprit clothing brand—was successful. But his Midas touch never changed his passion for travel and adventure—e.g., flying his Cessna, sometimes with his family, but often, to the detriment of his marriage, solo. In the early 1990s, Tompkins bought property in southern Chile and fell in love with its pristine beauty. His outrage over the resource extraction–based nature of the Chilean government’s policies fueled his desire to protect the land. In the years that followed, he became an outspoken, sometimes reviled conservationist dedicated to using his fortune to transform thousands of acres of Patagonia into national parks. The great strengths of this timely, well-researched book lie not just in the author’s detailed characterization of Tompkins’ complex personality, but also in the celebration of his singularly dynamic crusade to save the environment.

A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-296412-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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More uncommonly sensible investment guidance from a master of the game. Drawing on his experience at Fidelity's Magellan Fund, a high- profile vehicle he quit at age 46 in 1990 after a spectacularly successful 13-year tenure as managing director, Lynch (One Up on Wall Street, 1988) makes a strong case for common stocks over bonds, CDs, or other forms of debt. In breezy, anecdotal fashion, the author also encourages individuals to go it alone in the market rather than to bank on money managers whose performance seldom justifies their generous compensation. With the caveat that there's as much art as science to picking issues with upside potential, Lynch commends legwork and observation. ``Spending more time at the mall,'' he argues, invariably is a better way to unearth appreciation candidates than relying on technical, timing, or other costly divining services prized by professionals. The author provides detailed briefings on how he researches industries, special situations, and mutual funds. Particularly instructive are his candid discussions of where he went wrong as well as right in his search for undervalued securities. Throughout the genial text, Lynch offers wry, on-target advisories under the rubric of ``Peter's Principles.'' Commenting on the profits that have accrued to those acquiring shares in enterprises privatized by the British government, he notes: ``Whatever the Queen is selling, buy it.'' In praise of corporate parsimony, the author suggests that, ``all else being equal, invest in the company with the fewest photos in the annual report.'' Another bull's-eye for a consummate pro, with appeal for market veterans and rookies alike. (Charts and tabular material— not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-75915-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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