BUSINESS BOOKS IN BRIEF

Managing Generation X: How to Bring Out the Best in Young Talent, by Bruce Tulgan (Merritt Publishing, 243 pp., $19.95). ''Managing Generation X'' is practical, insightful reading for any manager who works with this group of Americans born between 1963 and 1981.

Written by Bruce Tulgan, a Generation Xer himself, the book is a culmination of his own experiences as a young Wall Street lawyer, as well as the experiences of some 85 Xers he interviewed who work in various industries in corporate America. It is these candid conversations that make this an informative read.

Tulgan's book is about dispelling myths - the myth that Xers are ''slackers'' with short attention spans; disloyal and unwilling to pay their dues; and arrogant and demanding instant gratification. The key to better managing Xers, Tulgan argues, is to better understand them. That means not comparing them to baby boomers. Xers' defining trait is that they are children of the information revolution and its rapid pace. That affects the way they learn and communicate.

Often a product of divorce and single parenting, Xers are fiercely independent, as well. They want to work independently, and they want increased responsibilities. While this generation was not raised with institutional loyalties, they do want to make an impact, Tulgan contends.

Although this book only focuses on one group of Xers - young successful professionals - it is a good read for those struggling to relate to this fast-track generation.

- Shelley Donald Coolidge

Economic Literacy: What Everyone Needs To Know About Money AND Markets, by Jacob DeRooy (Crown, 420 pp., $25). Feeling confused about United States government transfer payments? Uncertain whether to talk about gross national product, or gross domestic product at your next dinner party? Fret no more. Jacob DeRooy, an economist with the pen of a poet, offers a first-rate book on economic literacy.

Economics has not been called the ''dismal science'' without reason. Laden with jargon and fraught with technical mathematical equations, economics is seldom confused with romance - or plain English. Yet, in a world increasingly interrelated, where factories are closed, downsized, and merged, and where governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars, knowing the basics of economics is more important than ever.

DeRooy's book - breezy in style, richly-illustrated, with understandable charts - is a useful guide to the world of economics. It employs a question-and-answer approach. Answers are succinct, lucid. A reader can move back and forth within this book over time, skipping sections, looking up specific terms.

- Guy Halverson

The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's No. 1 Customer Service Company, by Robert Spector and Patrick McCarthy (John Wiley & Sons, 244 pp., $24.95). Everything you ever wanted to know about Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom - and then some - is packed into this straightforward and favorable account by Robert Spector, a freelance writer, and Patrick McCarthy, a long-time Nordstrom sales person.

Through interviews and anecdotes the authors explain the successes and failures the family-run chain has had during the past century with its unwavering devotion to serving the customer at any cost. Central to this policy is the store's unique approach of giving its sales associates the authority to do whatever it takes to please shoppers.

This empowerment, the authors say, along with sales commissions, helps foster a much envied entrepreneurial culture that brings in almost $4 billion in sales annually. But the company has also had its share of problems, ranging from union disputes to bloated inventories.

Readers looking to gain insight into how Nordstrom operates will find this book useful. Summaries at the end of each chapter make key points easy to find. Also noteworthy is information on the chain's origins - from a single shoe store in 1901, to its expansion into apparel in the early '60s, to the 59 full-line and 17 clearance stores it now runs in 12 states.

- Kim Campbell

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