Cover image for When giants stumble
When giants stumble
Sobel, Robert, 1931 February 19-1999.
Publication Information:
Paramus, N.J. : Prentice Hall, [1999]

Physical Description:
xviii, 350 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HG3766 .S66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A noted business historian presents captivating profiles of corporate blunders, with illuminating insights into the misguided motives that make promising concepts fail and industry giants crumble. A fascinating look at 15 glaring and enlightening product flops and management foibles. Index.

Author Notes

Robert Sobel is a Lawrence Stessin Distinguished Professor of Business History at Hofstra University. The author of over 40 books, including Dangerous Dreamers: The Financial Innovators from Charles Merrill to Michael Milken, he writes a monthly column on financial history for Barron's. He lives in Long Beach, New York.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Sobel (Coolidge: An American Enigma, LJ 6/1/98), a business historian, educator, and columnist for Barron's, has created a well-written account of 15 former industry leaders, with chapter headings such as "E.J. Korvette: The Blunder of Hubris," "W.R. Grace: The Blunder of Nonstrategic Expansion," and "Drexel Burnham: The Blunder of Isolation." Each chapter begins with a brief history of the company and progresses to the events leading to its setback and/or decline. As Sobel demonstrates, there are important lessons to be learned from these errors. The roots of failure include inadequate funding, changing markets and technologies, competition, government regulations, lack of concern for customers, and too much idealism combined with a lack of expertise in a particular area. Sobel points out that although most of the companies do not still exist in their original forms today, some are still lingering in the shadows. Highly recommended for business leaders and upper-level academic business libraries.ÄBellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Sobel, a business historian and prolific author (e.g., Dangerous Dreamer: The Financial Innovators from Charles Merrill to Michael Milken, CH, Oct'93, and The Age of Giant Corporations: A Microeconomic History of American Business, 1914-1992, CH, Sep'93), provides a very detailed analysis of 15 major business catastrophes in post-WW II America. He does not offer advice on what management should have done in any of the cases. Rather, as a historian, his approach is descriptive: analyzing decisions made by corporate leaders, their alternatives at the time, the knowledge they acted upon, their assumptions, and the consequences of their actions. The corporations included in his study cover a broad spectrum of industries, e.g., computer, automobile, airline, retail, stock brokerage, tobacco, beer, and bicycle. They include well-known companies like Pan American, Montgomery Ward, American Tobacco, and Schwinn. Despite this diversity, there is a smooth and logical order and transition from one example to the next. Each case contains a very detailed chronology of events, describing causes of failure and pivotal blunders made by corporate leadership. Most appropriate for graduate and professional collections. A. Tavakoli; Fayetteville State University