What I love most about this article, though, is that towards the end it is revealed that the authors behind these books promoting the "Jewish success" are neither accurate (many of their success stories do not involve Jews at all), nor are they even penned by the supposed authors at all. Basically, some enterprising Chinese have decided that the best way to hoodwink your fellow man is to assume a Western name, adhere to some old Western stereotypes and push literature out. That's a recipe for success any day. God/Yaweh bless capitalism!
Boom in books purporting to reveal business secrets
Friday, February 9, 2007
(02-09) 04:00 PST Shanghai -- Showcased in bookstores between biographies of Andrew Carnegie and the newest treatise by China's president are stacks of works built on a stereotype.
One promises "The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish."
Another title teases readers with "The Legend of Jewish Wealth." A third provides a look at "Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives."
In the United States, where making broad generalizations about races, cultures or religions has become unacceptable in most circles, the titles of some of these books might make people cringe. Throughout history and around the world, even outwardly innocuous and broadly accepted characterizations of Jews have sometimes formed the basis for eventual campaigns of violent anti-Semitism.
In Shanghai, which prides itself on having provided a safe haven for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe since the 1930s, some members of the city's small Jewish community are uneasy about the books' message.
These Jewish success books are very dangerous, said Audrie Ohana, 30, who works at her family's import-export company and attended China's prestigious Fudan University. "What they say -- it's not true. In our community, it's not everybody that succeeds. We're like everyone else. Some are rich, but there are others that are very, very poor."
Nonetheless, in China, a country where glossy pictures of new billionaires have become as common as images of Mao Zedong, aspiring Chinese entrepreneurs are obsessed with getting their hands on anything they think can help them get an edge on the competition.
In the past few years, sales of "success" books have skyrocketed, publishers say, and now make up nearly one-third of the works published in China. And perhaps no type of success book has been as well marketed or well received as those that purport to unveil the secrets of Jewish entrepreneurs. Many sell upward of 30,000 copies a year and are thought of in the same inspirational way as many Americans view the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.
Among this booming genre's most popular books is William Hampton's "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom." It comes packaged in a red and gold cover, and a banner along the top brags that it was a "gold list" best-seller in the United States. Among Hampton's credentials, according to his biography: "Business Week editor," part of the "pioneer batch of Harvard DBAs," "professor in business strategy and philosophy" with "many years of experience in Jewish studies."
China is the fastest-growing book market in the world, with 130,000 new titles published in 2005. Sales reached $8.3 billion that year, a 50 percent jump from 2003, according to China National Publications Import and Export's data research arm.
Several of the business success books, despite their covers, focus on basic business acumen that has little to do with religion or culture. But others focus on explaining how Judaism has ostensibly helped Jewish people's success, even quoting extensively from the Talmud.
Practically every book features one or more case studies of the success of the Lehman brothers, the Rothschilds and other Jewish "titans of industry and captains of finance," as one author put it.
Some works incorrectly refer to J.P. Morgan, an influential Episcopalian leader, and John D. Rockefeller, a devout Baptist, as Jewish businessmen.
Most Chinese people have never met a Jew; they number fewer than 10,000 in a country of 1.3 billion people. But several of the most successful businessmen in the nation's financial capital, Shanghai, were Jewish. The Sassoon brothers, for instance, were real estate moguls of British descent from Baghdad who constructed the landmark Peace Hotel.
Positive stereotypes about Jews and their supposed business prowess have given the Jewish community iconic status in the eyes of the Chinese public. The cover of January's Shanghai and Hong Kong Economy magazine wonders, "Where does Jewish people's wisdom come from?"
Jewish entrepreneurs say they are bombarded with invitations to give seminars on how to make money "the Jewish way."
When asked for contact information for William Hampton, author of "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom," a representative for the book's publisher, Harbin Press, said the company obtained the manuscript from a translator and had never met the author.
A search of international ISBNs -- the 10-digit codes that identify books published in the United States and other countries -- pulled up no hits for books by a William Hampton with a title similar to "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom."
Harvard Business School has no record of a William Hampton in the first class of its doctorate of business administration program. Officials at Business Week magazine said there was a former employee with that name. William Hampton publishes an automobile newsletter.
Reached at his home near Detroit, Hampton said he was a former bureau chief and auto writer for the magazine, working there from 1977 to 1984, but had never served as an editor.
Moreover, he said he had no idea where the book came from.
"I can confidently tell you that this is not something that I did," he said. "This would not be a topic I would be knowledgeable about in any way. It would be helpful to be Jewish, for one thing."