For Profit: A History of Corporations

Basic. Nov. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9781541601567. $32. BUS
Magnuson (corporate law, Texas A&M Univ.; Blockchain Democracy) offers an in-depth examination of capitalism, told through the history of corporations and the notable people behind them. The work is organized thematically, with each chapter delving into a single company. The book ranges from the first semblances of businesses in ancient Rome, to the Medici Bank, to the Ford Motor Company, and expands its focus to today’s private equity firms, start-ups, and multinational corporations. The author does an excellent job depicting the circumstances and environment each entity stemmed from. While enlightening and captivating, it is not a quick reference. Magnuson provides plenty of history and detail for each theme and enterprise, sometimes painstakingly so; each profile takes time to unfurl. Surprisingly, he is able to weave each together as the book progresses over the centuries.
VERDICT Readers interested in business and history will appreciate the depth of Magnuson’s research and the lessons it reveals about corporations, past and present.
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