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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The authors have written fascinating vignettes of people who, with creativity or luck, invented or produced something that now bears their name. The first part of the book consists of two-page descriptions of fifty-one innovators, and the second part contains shorter sketches of other entrepreneurs.

People who lent their name to products are included as “borrowed images.” Sylvester Graham, Duncan Hines, and George Sealy are men who played no part in the development of their namesake products. Dan Gerber, Josiah Wedgwood, Marcel Bich, and Calvin Klein are four fascinating examples of diverse businessmen.

Gerber, who owned a cannery, decided to market baby food after discovering how much time his wife spent straining vegetables for their baby. Wedgwood, through a scientific approach, developed a glaze for china. He also was the grandfather of a more famous person, Charles Darwin. Bich anticipated the “throwaway culture.” While the Gillette Company was well-known for the ballpoint pen, the cigarette lighter, and razor, Bich introduced disposable pens, lighters, and razors. Klein was also able to forecast a trend with designer jeans after gaining a reputation in the fashion industry.

Vintage photographs and other illustrations enhance the text which is supplemented by a bibliography.

This is an entertaining, readable book for those who are interested in a concise, accurate assessment of the people behind successful products.