In this candid memoir, A. Alfred Taubman explains how a dyslexic Jewish kid from Detroit grew up to be a billionaire retailing pioneer, an intimate of European aristocrats and Palm Beach socialites, a respected philanthropist and, at age 78, a federal prisoner.Read more...
In this candid memoir, A. Alfred Taubman explains how a dyslexic Jewish kid from Detroit grew up to be a billionaire retailing pioneer, an intimate of European aristocrats and Palm Beach socialites, a respected philanthropist and, at age 78, a federal prisoner.
With a unique blend of humor and genius, Taubman shows how selling fine art and antiques really isn't that different from marketing root beer or football, and offers penetrating insights into that quintessential palace of commerce, the luxury shopping mall. Alfred Taubman may not have invented the modern shopping center but, in the words of The New Yorker, "he perfected it."
Taubman's life has been a storybook success, with its share of unique challenges. A pioneer builder and innovative real estate developer, he was also a brilliant land speculator, operator of a quick-serve restaurant chain, and owner of a major department store company. But what seemed like the pinnacle of his career, buying and reinventing the venerable art auction house Sotheby's, would lead to his conviction in an international price fixing scandal.
Despite the twists and turns, Taubman's life and business philosophy can be summed up in one evocative phrase: Threshold Resistance. Understanding and defeating that force--breaking down the barriers between art and commerce, between shoppers and merchandise, between high culture and popular taste--has been his life's work.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 76.
- Review Date: 2007-02-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Unlike many successful businessmen who polish their legacy with treacly fables, Taubman has written a frank, engaging memoir with hard-earned lessons. Starting in the 1950s from humble Detroit roots, Taubman built an enormously successful property company by essentially creating the modern shopping mall. Taubman recognized that large, enclosed malls could thrive in the suburbs by providing a greater range of shops than city Main Streets and by offering a new sense of luxury. Refreshingly, he shares as many lessons about his failures as he does touting his successes. "People run businesses. Great people run great businesses," he ruefully concludes from his inability to save the famous Washington, D.C., retailer Woodward & Lothrop. In detailing his 1980s experiences with Sotheby's auction house, which he helped transform into a dynamic, profitable art world player, Taubman writes candidly if bitterly about how his role as chairman exposed him to an employee's illegal price-fixing scheme, leading to his trial, sentencing and time spent in federal prison. Unfortunately, the dreadful title (which describes consumers' reluctance to enter a store and sums up Taubman's theory of life) may create the very type of consumer trepidation the author has fought his whole life. (Apr.)