The Roaring ’80s

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

From the title one might conclude that this book is predicting that the “Roaring ’80s” will be followed, as the “Roaring ’20s” were, by a deep depression. Smith acknowledges, however, that “Predictions are always risky.” Instead of doomsaying, he points to problems, warning about dangerous trends. In summarizing some of the decade’s events, Smith teaches ordinary readers about the implications of such poorly understood topics as leveraged buy-outs, insider trading, international monetary policies, and the like.

Some of the people interviewed or discussed are widely known figures; other names will be new to the general reader. Chapters feature Paul Volcker, Peter Drucker, Liz Claiborne, Lee Iacocca, Soichiro Honda, T. Boone Pickens, Henry Kravis, and many other individuals.

Perhaps the most important sections of the book deal with the booming economies of Asia. Smith shares many useful observations about doing business with Japan, Korea, China, and other Pacific Rim nations. These are lessons which Americans can ignore only at their peril.

Smith’s style is anecdotal, but he buttresses his arguments with startling statistics and a few revealing graphs and tables. The book ends with a chapter entitled “Bad News, Good News,” leaving the reader free to assess the balance.