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August 18, 2008

News & Opinion: Ahead of the Curve - Part Two

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 9:28 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I pointed to some reviews of Ahead of the Curve by Philip Delves Broughton last week, but I may have missed the best. Written by Land of Lincoln author Andrew Ferguson for The Wall Street Journal, the review is no kinder to the institution that Broughton profiles in the book than the previous reviews had been, but it is funnier and Ferguson reviews author Broughton as much as he derides Harvard Business School culture. He begins:
As Paris bureau chief for the London Daily Telegraph, Philip Delves Broughton had one of the most desirable jobs in newspapering--indeed, one of the last remaining desirable jobs in newspapering--and he did it well enough to earn the admiration of boss and colleague alike. He shared an apartment on the Left Bank with a charming and beautiful wife and a burbling baby boy. He dined with heads of state and traveled widely on his employer's dime. Despite the volatility of the journalism business, his professional future seemed exceedingly bright.
So he quit and went back to school to study accounting.

Ferguson also wonders aloud whether Broughton was even a bit too taken in by the HBS experience, despite his relatively unflattering take on the institution.
... as the semesters wear on and he unspools his story, he shows signs of succumbing to a version of Stockholm Syndrome--a hostage identifying, if not with his captors, then at least with his professors, even those who pretend to teach "leadership skills." His prose, usually breezy and ironic, begins to sprout words like "team-focused."

Although he takes his quick jabs at the author and institution, Ferguson comes off as thinking the book is well written and entertaining, which seems to be the overall consensus so far.