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September 27, 2003

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Gangs of America

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:41 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy by Ted Nace, Berrett-Koehler, 300 Pages, $24.95 Price, August 2003, ISBN 1576752607
This extremely interesting book couldnt be more timely. Sure, theres all sorts of talk about the corporate scandals and regulations that failed to prevent the swindles; but how many of us know how the corporation was born, or how it came to acquire so much power in the United States? I sure didnt!
Ted Nace has written a wonderfully informative story about the history of the corporation. Beginning in England before the United States were even colonies, he shows the tiny seedlings of what has grown into modern-day corporations. Nace details very early fights by U.S. colonists to limit the power of large companies in their time, explains major court decisions concerning corporations, and then shows what is happening to the corporation in todays world, and what that will lead to in the future.
One of the most interesting chapters in the book is the one about a man named Tom Scott. Never heard of him? Me neither! Yet Nace claims that Scott was the person responsible for creating the institution that we know as a corporation today. In the style of an exciting historical thriller, Nace guides us through Scotts strategy to free his business interests from the restrictions of the state.
Most of this book deals with events and people who existed before the 1950s, but the author balances it out by showing how the current scandals were able to happen, and how corporations are on the verge of acquiring more rights and freedoms as the global market expands. He also devotes about 20 pages to the groups of people who are now fighting to limit corporate rights and power.
I cant say how important this book is. Its like a college course in economic history for way cheaper than any university could offer, and in a compact 300-page book! Plus, I almost forgot to mention, there are two appendices in the back of the book. One contains summaries of relevant Supreme Court decisions; the other has the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment (the parts of the Constitution most referenced in the book). With how often we all come into contact with a corporation everydaywhether seeing an ad on TV or buying coffee at Starbuckswe should all at least know how these organizations came to be, how they work, and what they are capable of doing.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.