Cover image for A traitor to his class : Robert A.G. Monks and the battle to change corporate America
A traitor to his class : Robert A.G. Monks and the battle to change corporate America
Rosenberg, Hilary, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : John Wiley, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 378 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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HC102.5.M597 R67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A fascinating biography of the visionary behind the shareholderactivist movement

"Bob Monks is a truly rare creature, not only a businessman turnedpolitical activist, which is rare enough, but an activist in and onbehalf of business, which makes him virtually unique." -Nelson W.Aldrich, Jr. author, Old Money: The Making of America''s UpperClass.

"A Traitor to His Class is a fascinating account of an idealisticvisionary in action." -Ben Makihara, Chairman, MitsubishiCorporation.

"A superbly written book that provides a fascinating and candidinsight on the brilliant but complex Bob Monks. A must read for anydirector, corporate shareholder, or employee of a publicenterprise." -L. Dennis Kozlowski, Chairman and CEO, TycoInternational Ltd.

"One of the most interesting players in the development ofcorporate governance has been (the often controversial) Bob Monks.This well-written and lively biography puts him and his role inperspective-scholars, for information, and CEOs, for survival,ought to read it." -John Biggs, Chairman, President and CEO,TIAA-CREF.

"An interesting story of one of the early proponents of changes incorporate governance and a formidable personal opponent in severalcorporate battles." -Martin Lipton, Esq., Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen& Katz.

Ask anyone who knows Robert Monks to describe him, and words suchas "visionary," "determined," and "passionate" will surface. He is,in fact, all this and much more. At six-foot-six, he is aformidable presence, but the respect he demands has less to do withhis physical stature than with his influential status as a drivingforce behind the shareholder activist movement - an initiative thatbegan as a self-proclaimed "mission" to improve corporategovernance and accountability, and that is now an integral part ofcontemporary business and investing. Now, the remarkable history ofthe movement and one of its pioneers is told.

Though born into a wealthy and powerful Boston family whose rootswere established in New England before the Revolution, RobertAugustus Gardner Monks was never intent on simply leading a life ofprivileged luxury. Driven by a deep desire to make himself "usefulto the world," he took steps to meet this end. He graduated fromHarvard University -Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude-and Harvard LawSchool, and subsequently joined Boston''s second largest law firmwhere he became one of its youngest partners ever. Monks thenembarked on a new path which led him towards his ultimate goal offar-reaching public service.

Vividly tracing his extraordinary journey, A Traitor to His Classfollows Monks''s experiences as businessman, corporate attorney,venture capitalist, regulator, and finally, shareholder activist.Written with exclusive access to Monks himself, as well as hiscollection of notes, speeches, and correspondence, it covers hisnumerous accomplishments -as well as a few defeats. Included arehis term as the Department of Labor''s pensions administrator; hisbid for the Sears board of directors, a run that won himrecognition as "the leader of the battle to reform Americancorporate governance"; and his three attempts at the Senate, all ofwhich were invaluable training for the guerrilla war he would wageon big business.

Instrumental to his battle is his brainchild, InstitutionalShareholder Services (ISS), which today handles voting for hundredsof corporate and government pension funds and represents a decidingfactor in many contentious proxy votes at large companies both hereand abroad. A Traitor to His Class intricately details ISS''sgrowing impact, as well as that of the Lens Fund, whose forays intopoorly managed corporations have set new precedents for shareholderactivism.

The biography of a man who dared to demand that Corporate Americabe answerable to both its owners and society, A Traitor to HisClass is an engaging and enthralling look at one of today''shottest, most controversial movements in business.

Author Notes

HILARY ROSENBERG is from Rutland, Vermont, and a graduate of Yale University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has written about business and finance for Institutional Investor, Barron's, CFO, and other publications. She is also the author of The Vulture Investors.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Robert A.G. Monks spearheaded the shareholder activism movement, demanding that shareholders be treated as owners of corporations. As an investor and as manager of the Lens Fund, he has been active in pushing corporations to reorganize their boards of directors, using the proxy process, running for boards himself (notably Sears), and organizing large institutional shareholders behind his efforts through his company, Institutional Shareholder Services. He has ambitious goals for the role of corporations in society, which he pursues through his business ventures; he also worked as pension administrator in the Department of Labor and ran for the U.S. Senate three times. This biography highlights his activities in the 1980s and 1990s. Rosenberg is an editor at Institutional Investor and author of The Vulture Investors (LJ 8/92). Recommended for all public and academic libraries‘A.J. Sobczak, formerly with California State Univ., Northridge (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Minister's Son
Lawyer, Investor, Businessman
Political Follies
Wielding the Stick
The Double Helix
Poison Pill
The Big Break
Power Base
Taking on Sears
Checking Out at the Store
Money Where His Mouth Is
Strike Three
The Right Formula
Epilogue: Beyond Boundaries