HarperCollins has recently reissued Peter F. Drucker's memoirs, Adventures of a Bystander (1991, $25), originally published in 1978 under the same title. This classic is must reading for any student of the man who almost single-handedly defined modern management as we know it today. Recently, Drucker and I had the chance to discuss the last chapter of the book, in which he chronicled "the commitment to mutual help" that characterized the American response to the Great Depression. I asked him what he would say about America in 1991 if he were to rewrite that chapter today. "Interestingly enough, I'm planning to write a book on the question you pose," Drucker replied. "I must say that I see things in this country today that frighten me terribly. I'm talking about a divisiveness -- a self-centeredness -- that I'm not sure we've seen before. I've come to the conclusion that good times are not good for the human race. I'm serious about this. During the depression years, Americans displayed qualities we associate with survivors of a natural disaster, qualities that unite people with a shared sense of how good it is simply to be alive. Since then we have had four or five decades of relatively good times, and they have not been good for us." Let's just hope we don't have to wait long for the Bystander sequel.
Oct 1, 1991