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"JCPenney was the quintessential American company. Since James Cash Penney opened his first store in the small mining town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902, this unique institution has been an iconic part of the national landscape. Founded and run on the core principles of thrift, hard work, and good citizenship, the retail giant prospered throughout the 20th century, even during the Great Depression, as American citizens came to rely on it for its good values and service. But by the year 2000, its original beliefs arrogantly betrayed, JCPenney's Golden Age was, sadly, just a memory. Celebration of Fools is an insider's look at JCPenney's remarkable rise and fall, charting the people and events that have been the history of this American institution. Packed with captivating stories and compelling characters -- including the company's highest ranking woman -- Celebration of Fools offers valuable lessons applicable in today's business climate. With an engaging, narrative style, former Penney executive speechwriter Bill Hare tells a compelling cautionary tale with universal implications for all of corporate America. Casting new light and astonishing revelations on this American icon and the people who nearly destroyed it, Celebration of Fools will keep readers captivated from first page till last."
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Bill Hare (Dallas, TX) worked for 15 years as a speechwriter for senior executives in Fortune 500 companies, including two CEOs at JCPenney. He has won numerous advertising industry awards.From Publishers Weekly:
Former corporate speechwriter Hare presents an unvarnished look at the J.C. Penney Company, a truly American saga that parallels U.S. business history itself. Hare looks at the company from its beginning in 1902 as a dry goods store, through its rise into a successful chain of full-service department stores rivaled only by Sears, Roebuck, to its fall into bankruptcy in the 1990s due to corporate bungling. But his narrative is based on individual portraits of the men who first developed—and who, he says, later betrayed—the company's "revolutionary concept": "letting stores be driven by clever individuals whose long hours of work would include a 'solicitous interest' in the well-being of the store's surrounding community." Hare crafts excellent portraits ranging from founder J.C. Penney, a "gutsy risk taker," to the company's prebankruptcy leader, Jim Oesterreicher, "a man clearly in over his head as CEO." He also captures how women such as Gail Duff-Bloom had to fight to rise to positions of influence within a male-dominated corporate culture. The weakest parts of the book are its first few chapters, featuring Hare's dramatization of the company's early years: his creation of incidents and dialogue to create "reasonable reflections" based on available historical records fall flat. But the rest of the narrative, for which Hare interviewed firsthand participants, effectively recreate key incidents, such as charismatic Penney CEO Bill Howell making his unexpectedly thrilling 1993 speech on corporate sexism to the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
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