"Business Under Fire" by Dan Carrison

Review of “Business Under Fire” by Dan Carrison, published by AMACOM. ISBN 0-8144-0839-7

When I attended August Penguin 4 (last Thursday, Aug. 4 2005), ComBooks had a booth, in which they offered books for sale. Most of the books were about Linux, PHP and other technologies. However, they had also some business oriented books.

I figured that most of the technical books are either too fat, prone to be obsolete soon, have downloadable equivalents, or already owned by me. So I went for the business book “Business under fire”.

Today I finished reading it, and here is my review.

The book is about the ways Israeli businesses coped with problems caused by the Al-Aqsa intifada, and what can businesspeople from elsewhere learn from the Israeli experience. The best thing I can say about it is that it is effective in filling Israeli readers with pride of their countrymen. The years after 2000 were bad for the Israeli economy. But, according to the book, the Israeli economy did very well considering the circumstances, having contracted only by few percents, rather than having dropped by tens of percents like, say, the Palestinian Authority economy during the same time.

Most of the book consists of interviews with business managers and leaders, large percentage of whom are hotel managers. The interviews are preceded and followed by discussions and checklists of conclusions. Overall, the impressions and conclusions look reasonable, if a bit superficial. However, I found some factual errors in the book. The city name is Tiberias, not Tiberius (pg. 27). The Dolphinarium bombing happened at June 2001, not June 2002 (pg. 142). Israel was hit by exactly 39 Scud missiles, not 40 (pg. 138, 176).

Notably missing were details about the counter-examples, of Israeli businesses, which were not as well managed, and failed during the Al-Aqsa intifada. It was mentioned that the Hyatt chain pulled out of Jerusalem (pg. 29) but there were no further details about the facts and opinions, which led to this decision, except for the murder of Rahvam Zeevi (not mentioned by name), the then Minister of Tourism, in the Hyatt hotel in Jerusalem.

Missing were also figures and statistics about the business climate in Israel. How much did the Israeli GDP drop as function of time? How large hit, as function of time, in tourist traffic and expenditures did the Israeli tourist industry have to incur? Overall effect on Israeli imports and exports? How much were other sectors, besides tourism and Hi-Tech, affected by the Al-Aqsa intifada? What was the impact of having to fly Israeli managers for meetings in New York on administrative and general expenses of running Israeli businesses with customers and investors outside of Israel? What was the impact on investments in non-Hi-Tech, non-tourist sectors of the economy?

My recommendation: buy the book if you are Israeli and need encouragement. Otherwise, wait for a second and revised edition.

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