Three books


I’ve been looking forward to your visit to my study. I was going to hand you a snifter of single-malt Scotch. Then we’d sit in the wingback chairs by the fireplace.

I am, however, in the garage today.

So here’s a warm Bud Lite. You can sit on the cooler. No, not that cooler! It’s full of fish that I forgot to ice down. Please sit on the other cooler.

Comfortable now? Oh. Well, I’ll be quick about it then. I’ve got three books to discuss.

The first book is the autobiography of Ray Kroc, Grinding it Out. Published by St. Martin’s Griffen, this 206-page paperback lists for $15.99.

If you’re familiar with McDonald’s then you may know that Ray Kroc was the founder of the chain. If you’re familiar with me, then you surely know that I’m partial to Big Macs and Egg McMuffins.

Kroc’s career is a great American rags-to-riches story. Kroc (1902-1984) was 52 years of age when he launched the chain. At the time he was selling machines that mixed milkshakes. In this capacity he noticed a small hamburger stand in southern California that was doing great business. The place was called McDonald’s. Kroc was impressed with it. He inked an agreement with the owners to duplicate the idea and sell franchises.

I don’t want to rehash the book here. After all, I can’t do justice to Kroc’s story. Only Kroc can do that, and he did it quite well.

There is, however, one theme in the book that I do want to share with you. This is the fact that Kroc’s suppliers were very much a part of McDonald’s success. Instead of regarding suppliers as enemies to be chipped down, Kroc saw them as allies in building his restaurant chain. His nurturing of these relationships is one of the book’s major themes.

By contrast, I’ve noticed that many people take a confrontational approach to things, thinking that in order to succeed in a transaction they have to get the best of the other party. Kroc apparently thought on a higher plane.

McDonald’s has about 37,000 locations worldwide which, as you know, includes Saipan and Guam.

As for the second book I want to mention, well, I will admit I haven’t read it. That’s because it hasn’t been released yet. On Feb. 27, 2018, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life will hit the streets. This is the newest work from mathematician and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The 320-page book will be published by Random House and lists for $30 in hardcover. I’ll be digging into it as soon as I get my hands on a copy.

Taleb has several titles to his credit, including one of my favorite books of all time, Antifragile.

As for the third book I want to mention, well, this one didn’t work out so well. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road this year. I wanted to relax and re-read an old favorite, The Deep Blue Good-By, by John D. MacDonald. Published in 1964, it was the first of 21 books in a series that featured a hero named Travis McGee. McGee was a boat-dwelling freelance investigator who described his line of work as “salvage.”

McGee had a nose for intrigue as well as an eye for damsels. I’ve always maintained that he would have lived on Saipan instead of Florida if he knew about the CNMI.

Anyway, the guy at the bookstore informed me that book is no longer published. Then he pecked at his computer some more and told me, quite cheerfully, that’s it’s available in Kindle.

McGee? Kindle? That does not compute.

But assuming the worker was correct, and I have no reason to doubt him. My fictional hero has, indeed, been ripped from ink and paper and stuffed into an electronic box.

What would Travis McGee say about this fate? I know exactly what he’d say. Here is a quote from the Deep Blue Good-By:

“I am weary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess we have built into such a glittering, top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it.”

Yeah, that makes two of us.

But guys like McGee and me are old-school now. I guess we’re destined for the cooler. They probably won’t even have the decency to put us on ice. That does happen, you know.

Ed Stephens Jr. | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at His column runs every Friday.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.