Forbes Book of Great Business Letters: Memos, Missives, Pitches, Proposals and E-Mails by Erik Bruun

I’ve been reading The Forbes Book of Great Business Letters: Memos, Missives, Pitches, Proposals and E-Mails (edited by Erik Bruun) off and on for months and months now — it’s a 500 page book. I’ll probably finish it up tomorrow.

I don’t know what it is about letters and other primary sources but I very much enjoy reading them.

The Forbes Book of Great Business Letters immediately made me think of Letters of a Nation: A Collection of Extraordinary American Letters (edited by Andrew Carroll), a unique collection of more than 200 letters from the arrival of the Pilgrims to the present day. In fact some letters, such as Cesar Chavez’s Good Friday 1969 letter to E.L. Barr, Jr. (President of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League), are in both books! The Journals of Lewis and Clark and I Love You, Ronnie by Nancy Reagan are two other primary source books that I love — Lewis and Clark for it’s beautiful historical and scientific account of exploration of America’s West and I Love You, Ronnie for the Reagans’ tender and heartfelt expressions of love.

But back to The Forbes Book of Great Business Letters . . . this extraordinary collection presents business advice from big names like Alfred P. Sloan, Jack Welch, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo da Vinci through their own correspondence. Drawn from around the world and across history, these personal and professional communications reflect the wit, eloquence, practical wisdom, and historical interest of letters, memos, emails, and telegrams.

Grouped into fourteen categories, the letters offer general business advice, discuss labor conditions and the difficulties of employment, address the roles of government and business, discuss the pros and cons of central banking, issue praise, assign blame, propose deals, market products and services, and promote new ideas.

These are the topics:

Advice

Beasts of Burden

  • Cesar Chavez‘s Good Friday 1969 letter to E.L. Barr, Jr. (President of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League)

Business and Government

The Competitive Edge

Compliments and Complaints

  • Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie & Clyde) commending Henry Ford on the reliability of his cars, particularly for quick getaways
  • An amusing note from a dissatisfied customer to a French typewriter shop using the defective typewriter that used “x” instead of “e”

Deals (Proposals, Deal Negotiations, Sealed Deals)

Employment (Getting a Job, Career Choice, Management, Employment, Departing Work)

Finance

  • J. P. Morgan‘s October 29, 1907 memo to create a $30 million bond issue that prevented New York City from going into bankruptcy
  • Bernard M. Baruch predicting the 1929 stock market crash in a letter to Senator William H. King

Marketing

  • Kentucky Distillers’ Co offer to sell its list of customers to the Keeley Institute, the widely known alcoholics’ sanatorium; “Our customers are your prospective patients”
  • Correspondence regarding Norman Rockwell‘s endorsement of paint-brushes made by two rival companies

The Money Chase

New Frontiers

New Ideas

Rights

  • Letter from Harry Houdini (born Ehrich Weiss) asserting his rights to the Water Tourture Cell which he invented

Work and Business Ethics

The Forbes Book of Great Business Letters is inspirational, humorous, poignant, and informative. Most of the items in this collections are publicly available and no longer protected by copyrights.

Still, the value is in the collection and I’d like to purchase a copy to add to my ever expanding library.

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2 responses to “Forbes Book of Great Business Letters: Memos, Missives, Pitches, Proposals and E-Mails by Erik Bruun

  1. Pingback: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers « Adventures in Reading

  2. Pingback: The Forbes Book of Great Business Letters: Best of the Best « Adventures in Reading

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