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Adventures of a Bystander (Trailblazers) (英語) ハードカバー – 1998/2/4
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"It is [a] belief in diversity and pluralism and the uniqueness of each person that underlies all my writings . . . " -from the Preface.
Regarded as the most influential and widely read thinker on modern organizations and their management, Peter Drucker has also established himself as an unorthodox and independent analyst of politics, the economy, and society. A man of impressive scope and expertise, he has paved significant inroads in a number of key areas, sharing his knowledge and keen insight on everything from the plight of the employee and the effects of technology to the vicissitudes of the markets and the future of the new world order. Adventures of a Bystander is Drucker's rich collection of autobiographical stories and vignettes, in which this legendary figure paints a portrait of his remarkable life, and of the larger historical realities of his time.
In a style that is both unique and engaging, Drucker conveys his life story -from his early teen years in Vienna through the interwar years in Europe, the New Deal era, World War II, and the postwar period in America-through intimate profiles of a host of fascinating people he's known through the years. Their personal histories are, as Drucker tells us, the beads for which his own life serves as the string. A colorful group, these diverse, often unpredictable, always multidimensional individuals were chosen "because each of them, in his or her own highly personal way, reflects and refracts the thirty crucial years from the end of World War I to the first post-World War II decade-the thirty years that largely formed the world in which we now live."
An amazing pageant of characters, both famous and otherwise, springs from these pages, illuminating and defining one of the most tumultuous periods in world history. Along with bankers and courtesans, artists, aristocrats, prophets, and empire-builders, we meet members of Drucker's own family and close circle of friends, among them such prominent figures as Sigmund Freud, Henry Luce, Alfred Sloan, John Lewis, and Buckminster Fuller. Playing to perfection their roles as those who "reflect and refract" the customs, beliefs, and attitudes of the times, these singular personalities lend Adventures of a Bystander a striking "you-are-there" feel.
A brief encounter with Freud becomes the catalyst for an absorbing, multidimensional description of the economics, politics, and social psychology of pre-World War II Europe. Drucker introduces us to Fritz Kraemer, a brilliant, monocle-wearing eccentric who became an influential mentor to the young Henry Kissinger. His personal memoir of Henry Luce documents the development of modern journalism, while in "The Indian Summer of Innocence," he rescues and preserves the very heart of the American experience during the last New Deal years before World War II.
Shedding light on a turbulent and important era, Adventures of a Bystander also reflects Peter Drucker himself as a man of imaginative sympathy and enormous interest in people, ideas, and history. These enthralling stories complement and complete the groundbreaking analytical writing for which he is so revered.
Luminous autobiographical stories by one of the greatest thinkers of our time
"The cast of characters among whom Drucker moves is superbly rich, and the informed glimpse he provides of a vanished social and political universe is an education in itself. Adventures of a Bystander is better than a novel, more lively than an essay, and as thoughtful as both at their best." -The Harvard Business Review.
"Adventures of a Bystander is a virtuoso performance in which Drucker displays a dazzling diversity of personal interests and knowledge, an awesome power of recall, and a crisp, highly readable writing style." -BusinessWeek.
"Adventures of a Bystander appears in a stroke to have restored the art of the memoir and of the essay. It will doubtless be a while before its like comes round again." -The Washington Post.
The classic autobiography of one of the greatest thinkers in our time. This new edition of Drucker's autobiographical collection of stories and vignettes, re-introduces this classic to a wider audience of readers. As Drucker recounts his relationships with different people (famous and otherwise) throughout his life, he paints a portrait of the larger historical realities of his time, including war-torn Europe, the New Deal years, and America after World War II. This personal and engaging work also mirrors Drucker himself-a leader and thinker of infinite curiosity, imaginative sympathy, and enormous interest in people, ideas, and the forces behind them.
This personal conclusion, at the end of his chapter on Freud, examples Drucker’s willingness to offer opinions after providing background. Easy to understand. Direct without arrogance.
“The totalitarian regimes in which everybody was to conform, to think, write, and paint the same, to be centrally controlled - the Nazi's called it ‘switched to the right track’ - were but the head of a universal current. It swept over the democracies as well.’’ (vii)
Drucker’s book “whether dealing with politics, philosophy or history’’ stresses pluralism and diversity.
“The people [here] were all chosen because each of them, in his or her own highly personal way, reflects and refracts the thirty crucial years from the end of WWI to the first post-WWII decade - the thirty years that largely formed the world in which we now live
Drucker highlights personal stories more than political movements. Nevertheless, he knows his life and everyone else, were driven by the huge undercurrents of the postwar world. This work wants to show how we got here. He succeeds (even if more can be told).
Prologue: a bystander is born
I - Report from Atlantis
Grandmother and the twentieth century
Hemmed and Genia
Miss Elsa and Miss Sophy
Freudian myths and Freudian realities
Count Traunek and the Actress Maria Mueller
II - Young man in an old world
The man who invented Kissinger
The monster and the lamb
Noel Brailsford - the last of the dissenters
Ernest Freedburg’s world
The bankers and the courtesan
III - The Indian summer of innocence
Henry Luce and Time-Life-Fortune
The prophets: Buckminister Fuller and Marshal McLuhan
The professional: Alfred Sloan
The Indian summer of innocence
The Vienna of Drucker’s youth populated the western world with thinkers who created modernity. Drucker's friends included Mises and the Polanyis. He was closer to Karl than the others. Karl wanted to condemn western civilization and praise primitivism. Researched for years - and found. . .
“it simply is not true that slave trade and slave raids were forcibly imposed by wicked outsiders on a freedom loving and harmonious black tribal society. The black kings and chieftains brought in the slavers and organized, conducted, and supported the slave raids.” (138)
Karl was ‘profoundly shocked’. Preconceived ideas are the hardest to break.
“If there was one article of the faith to which all the Polanyis subscribed it was that the ‘laissez-faire’ Liberals were wrong. . . . All Polyanis searched for another alternative, whether Otto’s early fascism, Adolph’s romantic Brazil, Mousie’s ‘rural sociology’, Micheal’s stoic, or Karl’s ‘social principles’.’’ (138)
These ideas had significant influence. But what did Karl’s serious study uncover?
“But the more delved into prehistory, primitive economics, and classical antiquity, the more proof did he find for the hated and despised market creed of Ricardo and Bentham, and also of Karl’s contemporary bogeymen, Lugwig Von Mises and Frederick Hayek.’’ (138)
This personal experience seems included to highlight the conflict of the twentieth century disputes over freedom and collectivism. Fascinating!
Another insight -
“Our society has shifted to seeing symbols as real: money, trades and deals, interest rates, and Gross National Product. Our whole society assumes, in the words of the medieval logician: that symbols have substance while the objects they represent are mere shadows.’’ (211)
What! Symbols (mental constructs) are more important than physical (observed) reality?
“Dr. Samuel Johnson once said, ‘A man is never so innocently employed as in making money.’ . . . . Dr. Johnson did not say that the man who makes money is doing good. He says did the least harm. He does not seek power, he does not seek to dominate people or to make them squirm, he does not seek to amass possessions.’’ (212)
“He is content with the symbols and lets reality go.’’
“They were making things, scheming for power, dominating people or being dominated. They saw in money with the classical economists the ‘veil of reality’.’’
This was centuries ago. Now?
“Is the ultra-nominalism that treats symbols and images as ultimate reality, and people and things as mere shadows, still so ‘innocent’?’’ (212)
(Herbert Butterfield wrote against ‘worshipping abstract nouns’. Seems similar.)
The book opens with portraits of Viennese people like his grandmother and teachers that inspired him in later life. Intellectual forces in his youth like Freud, Marxism, Stalinism, rural sociology and Prussian Junckerdum are discussed by describing persons holding these ideas. However, he rejects them all as ideologies that wanted to achieve salvation by society. The world of investment banking he encountered in his London years is painted by pictures of men, who made decisions unbridled by ideology. His US years also portrays men of action. Drucker's management theory can be understood as a theory of decision making. Management wants to achieve results and not heaven on earth. His ideas on management were influenced by practitioners like Alfred Sloan of GM. This book gives interesting insights on how Drucker's ideas on management evolved in a discourse with other people and ideas.