Inasmuch as I have been flogging my book so mercilessly, a sense of fair play compels me to acknowledge the rotten review it got in Business Week. Yes, there have been some very flattering reviews, but it is of course the rotten review any self-respecting author focuses on and obsesses over (while denying that he’s read it).

Business Week, after praising some of my earlier work — uh, oh — said I had become quite “windy.” (Got to admit there’s some truth to that.) Yet in the next paragraph, it characterizes my style as “breezy.” Now I ask you, Business Week, which is it? Windy or breezy? Slow going or zippy?

On top of that, Business Week — are you sitting down? — found an error in the book. The passage reads:

I graduated, went to work at New York, at $18,000 a year, and made it a practice never to take cabs or do anything else that could stand in the way of my saving money.

OK, I was still sending $16 or $18 a month to a foster child someplace — I may have been up to two of them by then — and I was sending my $25 to Public Citizen and Common Cause and subscribing to Mother Jones and all that, but basically I was one of the cheapest guys on the face of the planet.

I was 25.

Aha! How could he have been subscribing to Mother Jones when he was 25, Business Week trumped, when the first issue of that magazine would not debut for another four years?!

Business Week is completely right about this. I would have been 29 when I first subscribed, not 25. I must have been subscribing to New Times or whatever else was Mother Jones‘s leftist equivalent at the time.

“A nit?” Business Week then goes on to ask itself. “Perhaps.” But, given my breezy style, it makes one wonder how much of the rest of the book can be trusted.

This is the only error Business Week points out. (In a 207-page book, there must be others, though the only one I’m aware of to date is on page 102, where the initials HRC should be HCN.)

As you can imagine, being at least as petty and thin-skinned as the next guy, I set about looking through Business Week to see whether, given this drizzly review, it might not contain an error. Almost immediately, I noticed that in its story ranking the business schools, Harvard was rated 4th in one table — but 44th in another!

A nit? Perhaps. But given the gusty blizzard of tables and statistics in Business Week, if one can so quickly find a gross error, might one not wonder whether anything in Business Week — indeed, anything published by McGraw Hill generally — can be trusted?

Thank you for letting me vent. I have not canceled my Business Week subscription, and neither should you.



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