Cover image for American business leaders : from colonial times to the present
American business leaders : from colonial times to the present
Hamilton, Neil A., 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, 1999.
Physical Description:
2 volumes : illustrations ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HC102.5.A2 H36 1999 V.2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HC102.5.A2 H36 1999 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An illuminating look at the last three centuries of visionary figures in American business.

* Includes biographies of over 400 industrialists, investors, entertainment moguls, inventors, and communications pioneers

* Cites works for further reading and includes a list of leaders organized by their field of business

Author Notes

Neil A. Hamilton is a professor of history at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL, & also serves as adjunct professor of American history at University of South Alabama. The author of "The ABC-Clio Companion to the 1960s Counterculture in America" & "Militias in America: A Reference Handbook", he holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Tennessee & lives in Fairhope, AL.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The more than 400 prominent men and women profiled in this dictionary created new industries, developed resources on a massive scale, or took original ideas and molded them into enterprises that changed the way people live all over the world. These profiles, from one to three pages in length and concluding with a short bibliography, place the leaders within the context of their times, enabling readers to gain a sense of how individual initiative along with social forces can shape economic development. The categories represented include finance, banking, heavy industry, food processing, broadcasting, fast-food entrepreneurs, retail-store pioneers, communications, computers, and entertainment. There are entries for John Jacob Astor and Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney and Michael Eisner, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Liz Claiborne and Calvin Klein, and Howard Johnson and Conrad Hilton, to name a few. Created for general readers, the dictionary includes some African Americans and women and covers entrepreneurs from colonial times to the present. The first name in the alphabetical listing is Alexander, Mary Spratt Provoost (1693^-1760), and her life reads more like a 1990s success story--financially independent, ran a flourishing business, married twice, and secured a prenuptial agreement to protect the inheritance of her children from the first marriage! However, white males dominate the American business world, and developments beginning with the late-nineteenth-century industrial period are emphasized. The volume concludes with both a general index and an index by field of endeavor, from advertising executives to wine makers. Approximately one-quarter of the men and women profiled here can also be found in Gale's Business Leaders Profiles for Students [RBB Jl 99]. Gale's coverage is international, and entries tend to be longer and more detailed. But Gale has entries for less than 250 people, as opposed to the more than 400 in the ABC-CLIO set. Smaller libraries can probably do with one or the other title; but larger collections will want both, because each treats numerous individuals not found in the other. American Business Leaders: From Colonial Times to the Present is recommended for high-school and public libraries.

Library Journal Review

Most libraries are in constant need of good biographical business reference books, which makes this newest general effort by Hamilton (The ABC-CLIO Companion to the 1960s Counterculture in America) all the more disappointing. This two-volume set contains approximately 400 biographies of so-called "major business leaders," from Colonial times to the present. The book's format is simple: name, birth and death dates, and an illustration or photo are followed by an essay averaging two double-columned pages. The essays are written in a clear and easily accessible style. Unfortunately, they tend to cover the subject's general biography in greater detail than his or her business significance. In addition, there is a conscious effort to achieve diversity and relevanceÄan admirable goal that has troubling consequences: traditional business giants like Westinghouse, Ford, and Carnegie are accompanied here by the likes of Diane von Furstenberg, the Wrigleys (of gum and Cubs fameÄor infamy), Gloria Steinem, all four Warner brothers, Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's, both Gallo brothers, Jann Wenner, Martha Stewart, Bob Guiccione, and Calvin Klein. Overall, this is an acceptable but finally optional purchase for high school and public libraries. The old H.W. Wilson chestnut Current Biography is still a much better resource and value for contemporary figures.ÄPatrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Technical Coll. Lib., La Crosse (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Engaging biographies of approximately 400 major figures in the business world. Although the book includes men and women from the "Colonial period to today," the focus is on 20th-century entrepreneurs. Background information, including significant dates, family, and education, is provided as is a discussion of their entrepreneurial claims to fame. The concise, alphabetically arranged entries are generally one to two pages in length and each concludes with a bibliography. Many incorporate a black-and-white photograph, reproduction, or sketch of the subject. Volume II includes a helpful list of the individuals arranged by field of endeavor. While the book is well written, much of the information provided can be found in other resources.-Madeleine G. Wright, New Hampton School, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Sweeping chronological scope, breezy journalistic style, and a tendency to ignore attribution of quotes combine to mar this reference work. According to the preface an effort was made to "survey only the most prominent leaders--the movers and shakers, so to speak." This makes its choices problematic. What biographies will be found here--only movers or shakers? The scope "from colonial times to the present" allows family relationships to emerge; for instance, Gloria Vanderbilt's biography follows that of her grandfather Cornelius. Some families are overrepresented; why do the Warner Brothers merit four separate entries? The sole writer for this project, Hamilton's style is sloppy in places with a tendency toward run-on sentences and paragraphs that end abruptly. Although each entry ends with a brief bibliography, many quotes are not linked to the sources listed. These problems aside, the volumes have a place in high school or two-year college collections. Helpful reader aids include cross-references and a list of the biographies arranged by field. N. J. Bird; Gateway Community-Technical College