With Hun-like aplomb, Bing ridicules everyone he can get his hands on — Dennis Kozlowski, cowboys, Romulus, per diem consultants, Chaldeans, Roman Catholics. A parody — yet, remarkably, none of the one-liners elicit so much as a chuckle. But it's the rape-as-a-weapon-of-war jokes that raise the question of whether anyone, except perhaps the author, read the manuscript before it was published. There are other mysteries. Why, for example, are we privy to unfunny, rather icky fantasies that include a castle with "prepubescent lovelies of all races and sexes frolicking between the legs of all those depraved old geezers"? The big question is why anyone would read this book. The afterword is entitled "What Have We Learned?" Well, I learned that some corporate executives think whatever they write is interesting or, even more of a stretch, amusing to others.Yeah, but these things are published because people buy them. We don't know that Bing thinks his own writing is interesting or amusing. The better assumption is that Bing (correctly) thinks he's found the formula for manufacturing one of those rectangular objects that people buy on impulse or for a gift. It's nearly Father's Day. Presumably, lots of people will think "Rome, Inc." is just the thing for Dad. He likes business, this looks funny and sexy, and the Rome angle will flatter the old man into feeling like something of a historian (or at least an HBO fan).
April 9, 2006
"In the tradition of self-help/business books that are characterized by flimsy data, padded writing and terminally cute titles."
Tara McKelvey slams "Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation," the new book by Stanley Bing, author of "Sun Tzu Was a Sissy":