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Alan Sugar's auto-biography, how to make millions from nothing!
What You See Is What You Get - Alan Sugar
Member Name: julwhite
What You See Is What You Get - Alan Sugar
Advantages: Interesting and entertaining read
Disadvantages: Maybe a little narrative in places, but not a major flaw
This review is of the hardback book "What You See is What You Get", the auto-biography of the successful businessman, and now television star, Alan Sugar, now Lord Sugar.
Alan Sugar is probably best known today for his role on the BBC's Apprentice, a show which uses his business experience to judge the ability of younger candidates to become his new "apprentice". The experience Sugar has had is wide, he started with nothing, built up Amstrad into an international computer brand, took over the chairmanship of Tottenham Hotspur as well as having a family and maintaining other business assets.
The book details these achievements, with much time spent on how things went wrong at Tottenham Hotspur with some of the fans and the media, as well as his involvement in the building up and growth of Amstrad. I didn't find the book to be too "I was right", which can be irritating when it happens, but it was interesting to read his side of the story, especially with regards to his time at Tottenham, possibly one of the times he suffered most in business because of the negative reactions he was receiving.
Despite these interesting sections, it was the section on his childhood which I found to be the most entertaining and deep, as this appeared to be the most heart-felt in the entire book. There is the mention of the little businesses which he operated to makes a few pounds, which produce several fun anecdotes, but it is the relationship with his parents, and the relationship with friends given his family's lack of money, which I found made the most interesting reading. His childhood certainly seemed to define him in many ways as an individual, and the way that he began on the path to success.
The book is written in quite a witty style, with an element of humour that we've seen in the man on the Apprentice, although I found that there were times when the book slipped slightly into narrative, and was a little narrow in just detailing what happened, rather than the emotions and wider impact that this events caused. However, this is minor, I found the book to flow and to hold the reader's interest throughout, despite the length of the book, nearly 650 pages long.
I'd suggest that this book would interest the general reader, not just those who are interested in business biographies, although it would of course likely hold their interest as well. For anyone interested in setting up a business, or just in need of motivation, it is definitely a book which shows what is possible through application, a bit of luck and lots of hard work. There are a fair few hints and tips on how to run a business throughout the book as well, which are useful without coming across as contrived.
I did get from the library earlier this year a book by Charlie Burden, which was a biography of Sir Alan Sugar (as he was then). This I found to be a badly written book, padded out, irrelevant in places and not really a proper biography in the way that I'd have expected. So this auto-biography is a much better book, and does rather negate the need to read Burden's book in my opinion.
The book retails for 20 pounds, a relatively usual price for hardbacks of this size, and the book is long. However, at the time of writing, the book can be purchased new from Amazon for just 9.98 pounds including postage. Currently, the book is a little cheaper second hand on sites such as eBay and Amazon, but will no doubt become cheaper as time goes on. The book was published this year, 2010, by Macmillan, and the ISBN is 9780230749337. I haven't seen the Kindle edition which is available to read, but this costs eight pounds, seemingly quite expensive given the cost of the book itself.
I'd definitely recommend reading this book, and given the price is under ten pounds at Amazon, it doesn't even seem worth waiting for the paperback version, which won't be much cheaper. The book is an interesting look at Lord Sugar's business life, sometimes maybe a little bit too much of a narrative of what had happened, but overall a fascinating read and definitely recommended.
Summary: Well worth reading, a surprising page turner
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