Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Reckoning by David Halberstam.

#1 Choice of Fortune 500 CEO's -- Wall Street Journal Survey

That's one of the things written on the front cover of this Avon paperback copy of The Reckoning by David Halberstam, copyright 1986, first Avon printing, September 1987.

On the first page of the book there's a reference to "eggheads who subscribe to Consumer Reports" on the second page, to the "rare combination of practical experience and theoretical expertise." I can find no indication that either of these things was written with an ironic wink or chuckle. Indeed, it seems to me that Halberstam's familiarity with irony extended possibly as far as his having been able to spell it.

The Reckoning is a book about the Ford Motor company and the Nissan corporation. Looking for "climate change" in its index. It's not there. Well, it was published in 1986, "global warming" may have have been a catch-phrase for longer -- but it's not in the index. How about"pollution"? No. "air pollution"? No. "Water pollution"? No. "Environment" or "environmentalists"? Huh... No.

There's an entire chapter about Ralph Nader, but it's about how different he is than a Detroit auto executive, and crash safety. Nothing in there about pollution or the environment.

Wait a minute -- "emissions"! Surely "emissions" is in the index! But no.

Almost a full page of the index is devoted to Lee Iacocca. There are 5 references to OPEC, 1 to India and 0 to Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. 14 to Wall Street and 5 to The Wall Street Journal.

5 to the New Your Times, 3 to the New Yorker, 1 to Newsweek, 3 to Time. Okay, Halberstam's starting to make sense now. His book entitled The Powers That Be is about, not heads of states or CEO's of automotive or oil companies, but the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Time Inc and CBS.

When I say that Halberstam's starting to make sense now, I don't mean that he makes a lot of sense. I mean that I think that I've figured out something about him, which is: if it didn't appear on the front page of the Los Angeles Times or the Washington Post or on the cover of Time or on the "CBS Evening News," then for Halberstam, and maybe also for a lot of Fortune 500 CEO's in the mid-1980's, it pretty much didn't exist.

Okay then.

This has also big a big help for me in understanding that other cultural monstrosity -- or should I say, that other monstrosity which so severely clogged the flow and breadth and depth of our culture -- John Kenneth Galbraith.

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