Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon

Portfolio. Nov. 2022. 816p. ISBN 9780593084168. $40. BUSINESS
General Electric (GE), which started with Edison’s incandescent lightbulb, grew into a company that owned subsidiaries in nearly every industry until its demise in 2021, when it announced it would split into three different enterprises focused on aerospace, healthcare, and energy. Such an important and massive conglomerate that dominated American business for most of the last century requires a substantial tome, which is exactly what Cohan (The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.) delivers. The book comes in at just over 800 pages, with more than half dedicated to the tenure of Jack Welch (1981–2001) and Jeff Immelt (2001–17). It also points to how those two men not only embodied GE but came to represent the American CEO. The author’s analysis not only focuses on the influence of these two CEOs, but it also delves into the financial health of the company to depict how specific events, such as the 2008 global financial crisis, put cracks in the foundation of the company that led to its rapid demise.
VERDICT Cohan’s thorough research and interviews with Jack Welch and others give readers a firsthand look at the rise and fall of an American institution.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing