« Home | The World According To Garp » | Death In The Afternoon » | The Blind Side » | A Long Way Gone » | The Yiddish Policemen's Union » | Breakfast Of Champions » | You Shall Know Our Velocity » | Faith Of My Fathers » | Fight Club » | Coma » 


Good Guys & Bad Guys

Author: Joe Nocera
Year: 2008
Pages: 280
Rating:87/100 -- some stories are home runs but others are meegs.
Amazon: Good Guys & Bad Guys

In Good Guys & Bad Guys, business columnist Joe Nocera features his most interesting articles and profiles on America's business leaders spanning the last quarter century. Nocera's articles details the accomplishments and significance of his characters but what sets his writing apart is his ability to also delve into their motivations, character, morality and personalities.

I found some of the articles and characters more interesting and fascinating than others. The multiple articles chronicling T. Boone Pickens were especially interesting and both started and ended the collection of stories. Nocera had a history, and fondness, for Pickens and has been around long enough to see his arc from young upstart to his current positions as a sort of old man energy sage. Like most young people, I know Pickens from watching him on CNBC and I'm well aware of his outrageous donation to Oklahoma State athletics. But learning and realizing Pickens accomplishments and experiences over decades makes you realize he is on television for his incredible knowledge and that he is not just some talking head.

Some of the other interesting stories include profiles of Steve Jobs, Michael Milken, Warren Buffet, Henry Blodget, executives at Enron and Phillip Morris, and Jim Dunne the head of Sandler O'Neil a firm that was decimated on 9/11.

As it turns out, most of the people featured don't fall neatly into a "good guy" or "bad guy" category. Perhaps maybe they are both. Nocera hints at that in the book's subtitle BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE SAINTS AND SCOUNDRELS OF AMERICAN BUSINESS (AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN). The commonalities seem to be blind determination and motivation to achieve. Most of the time they are too busy doing what they are doing to realize how public sentiment judges them. Sometimes, they line between good and bad is blurred and it's often quite subjective and a consequence of circumstance. I find myself admiring even the supposed bad guys for their unwavering confidence and determination to succeed.

Until reading Good Guys & Bad Guys, I was not familiar with Nocera or his work. Business writers have always seemed ironic to me. They are bright and knowledgeable enough to understand and explain complex business concepts and they are certainly immersed within Wall Street, corporate business and finance but they choose to write about it and instead of doing it. I know this is a simplistic view and that this point can be made for any industry. But somehow it sticks out in finance where the journalist is looked down upon by the egomaniacs that rule business.

I enjoy reading about business because it is both fascinating and inspiring. When an accomplish writer like Nocera is able to suck all the juice out of a story it usually makes it a thrilling read.

Links to this post

Create a Link

Subscribe By Email

Get posts sent to you
directly by email:

Meet L-Books...

    Littybooks can help you find your way along the cathartic path of leisurely reading. Benefits may include peace of mind, unimpeded circulation of your inner chi, and an overall satisfaction with your life. So pick up a book and look at the words inside.
My profile

Book Reviews

  • Good Guys & Bad Guys