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Mendoza College of Business

In winter, who can resist the lure of settling down before a fireplace with a good book? Even if your life consists of more airport shuttles and hotel rooms and fewer minutes before a cozy fire, here’s some titles to consider from Mendoza faculty.

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Erik Larson (Random House, Inc.)

"As someone who grew up in Chicago and has seen the remaining buildings from the 1893 World’s Fair, I would be expected to have more than a passing interest in the story of Daniel H. Burnham’s challenge to overcome numerous obstacles to construct the famous “ White City” around which the fair was built. But the story of Daniel Burnham and murderer Dr. Holmes are vivid for any reader. True incidents about the fair interwoven with the story of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, unfolded like a suspenseful mystery novel.

-reviewed by Professor Robert Drevs (’66)

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They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace in Vietnam and America, October 1967
David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster) 

This is an interesting non-fiction book that I read last summer. In a very compelling way, the author interweaves the story of two events that occurred in October 1967. The first involves the soldiers of the army battalion Black Lions who were engaged in a devastating battle with the North Vietnamese. The second story centers on student war protests at the University of Wisconsin, which occurred simultaneously.

-reviewed by Professor Elizabeth Moore

* * *

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age
Simon Schama (Random House, Inc.)

The Embarrassment of Riches discusses the transformation of the Dutch Republic into a formidable world empire during the 17th Century, the moral dilemma created by this transformation, and how this tension has shaped Dutch culture then and now. I first read this book in 1987, but I have re-read sections many times over the years. While other books explain why some civilizations and nations became rich and others remained poor, this book by Schama discusses in a compelling way the problems encountered once economic development has been achieved.

-reviewed by Professor Edward Trubac

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Tom Peters (DK Publishing, Inc.)

A very weird book (in design and format) that reinforces and extends many of the major themes Tom Peters has harped on in the past 20 years: the need to reinvent organizations and education, brand and the uncompromising delivery of substance behind brand promise, experience, the power of women in the economy and workforce, how business is missing the boomer generation, passion around design of product and service experience, as well as systems. Did I mention weird, too? But some powerful stuff. Peters’ brand symbol is the exclamation point(!). Perfect.

-reviewed by Professor Joe Urbany

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America (The Book) A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction
Written and Edited by Jon Stewart, Daily Show Writers Staff, Ben Karlin, David Javerbaum (Warner Books, Inc.)

Jon Stewart is a media phenomenon—a host of a satirical news show who has been featured on the cover of Newsweek and (infamously) on CNN’s “Crossfire.” If you’ve missed his take on American life on the Daily Show, America gives you a chance to see how today’s youth gets their information about politics and American issues (The Pew Foundation estimates that 20% of young voters get their news from the Daily Show). You’ll find that the information as presented in America is a mix of obvious parody and biting sarcasm. It will generate conversation, and there are some really funny parts. However, a fair bit of it was just vulgar. If you’re offended by some of it, the authors are probably happy, and I told you so.

-reviewed by Professor Margaret Shackell-Dowell

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Corporate Governance
Robert Monks and Nell Minow (3rd edition, Blackwell Publishers)

Corporate Governance discusses in detail the key challenges facing managers, boards of directors, and investors given the comprehensive regulatory changes brought about by recent corporate governance reforms (e.g., the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002). The book should be of interest to a broad readership, not just academicians. One of the biggest “selling points” of this book is the sheer number of case studies based on some of the most recent corporate failures. The book is very timely, appeals to a broad readership, and cleverly brings to life key issues with the use of many real-life case studies.

-reviewed by Professor Sandra Vera-Munoz


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