LEARN TO EARN: A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO THE BASICS OF INVESTING AND BUSINESS, by Peter Lynch and John Rothchild (Simon & Schuster, 263 pp., $13 paper). Peter Lynch is back, with a book aimed at school kids - and anyone else who wants to learn some basics of investing with a lively history of American capitalism thrown in. The whiz who managed the Fidelity's Magellan mutual fund to stardom in 1980s and explained how ordinary people can pick stocks in "One Up on Wall Street" now asserts that "the junior high schools and high schools of America have forgotten to teach one of the most important courses of all. Investing." Co-authored with a financial columnist, this is Lynch's answer to that "glaring omission."
The 70-page "short history of capitalism" is a particularly fun read, coming from an unabashed champion of the system. The story moves from the New England pilgrims (who for a time lived in a communistic fashion), to modern times, pausing to view early entrepreneurs, the busting of trusts and monopolies, and the Great Depression (when relatively few Americans lost money in the stock market crash because few owned shares in companies or mutual funds). The book also covers basics of investing and typical phases in the life of a company.
- Mark Trumbull
MANAGING IN A TIME OF GREAT CHANGE, by Peter F. Drucker (Truman Talley Books/Dutton, 371 pp., $24.95). Peter Drucker's heritage as a writer for Fortune magazine decades ago still shows: His books (this is the 27th) are easy to read, clear, and chock-full of anecdotes that bring his points home to the individual. His journalistic skepticism also is plain. He is not bowled over by the latest management fad or fashion.
For years Drucker has been regarded as a management guru and now writes with authority. He doesn't quote the "experts;" he is the expert. Most management problems aren't new to him, whether they are executive succession in a company or political focus for a president in the White House. He comments on them all without hesitation. This book is mostly a compilation of pieces that have appeared in magazines or newspapers since 1991. Drucker says this was intentional, that prepublication is "so to speak, my market test." But some chapters may be familiar to those who are widely read in the business press.
Drucker's theme of great change is a favorite one for him. In this book he examines issues regarding management, the information-based organization, the economy, and society. His encyclopedic knowledge allows him to discuss such widespread issues as managing the family business, three kinds of teams, the end of Japan Inc., the overseas Chinese, and reinventing government.
- David R. Francis
THE ADVENTURE OF WORKING ABROAD: HERO TALES FROM THE GLOBAL FRONTIER, by Joyce Sautters Osland (Jossey-Bass, 244 pp., $25). Although useful for anyone who's considering working in a foreign country, this informative book focuses primarily on businesspeople and companies and how they both can get the most out of an overseas assignment.
Osland, a professor of organizational behavior, addresses how to decide if you should work abroad, what you will generally face when you get there, and what it's like coming home. Especially interesting are quotes from returned US expatriates and the author's stories from her own overseas employment. The experience often has a "heroic essence," she says, comparing it to the challenges and triumphs of mythical heroes. She organizes the book around this metaphor, which is well-supported, though occasionally overemphasized.
For companies, Osland offers criteria for evaluating candidates for an assignment abroad: Do they have a strong desire to go? Are they adventurers? Do they have a positive attitude or are they grumblers? Are they open-minded? Firms that do not effectively select and prepare overseas workers often pay a big price - between $55,000 and $150,000 - when their employees return home early from unsuccessful assignments, she notes. American companies, which she says are dogged by the early-return problem more than their European or Japanese counterparts, will find much guidance in these pages.
- Kim Campbell