Here is a book review from the Gentleman Agitator. The book is Crosley: Two Brothers and a Business Empire That Transformed the Nation, by David Stern, Rusty McClure and Michael A. Banks. Website: http://www.crosleybook.com/
When I first heard of this book, I was excited for two reasons. I like learning more about the history of one of my favorite cities, Cincinnati, Ohio. I have always been interested in the history of my chose profession, broadcasting and media. I knew that the name Crosley was legendary. I was always curious about the story behind the name. So, it was on a weekend excursion to the Queen City earlier this year that I purchased a copy with relish.
This book documents the story of Powel and Lewis Crosley, two brothers from Cincinnati who went from lives of early uncertainty to world-renowned business magnates in the first half of the twentieth century. Powel and Lewis were different in personality, but shared common goals to chase their dreams and make them reality. Those dreams produced products and services with quality, low cost, and affordability for the average American.
I think their story is also a cautionary tale for those with the entrepreneurial spirit, as the Crosleys had. You know, sometimes people just do not know that when they are really good at something, they should stick to it. My late father was like that. He was one of the best physicians you could ever find. I heard many patients call him a miracle worker. He could heal with his hands and his head like no other. My father wanted more though. Like Powel Crosley, Jr., my father had that burning desire to do more, be more and make a good living with business ideas he was sure would be a hit. For my father, chasing his ideas meant taking his eye off what he did best. That led ultimately to financial hardships, personal disappointment and physical illness. What happened to the Crosleys? Well, you will just have to read the book to find out the whole story.
This book is an excellent resource for those interested in the Crosley family story, the history of Cincinnati, the history of broadcasting and even the history of the Cincinnati Reds baseball club who were owned by Powel Jr. at one time.
However, I must give a caveat. This book is not for the editorial stickler, or the English major who likes to diagram sentences and enjoys perfect grammar. I have no idea what the publisher and authors were thinking when they let this book go to press. It seems hastily laid out and pieced together. It is hard to tell that it even made it into an editor’s hands. Especially frustrating were one-sentence paragraphs, sometimes in succession and fragments of ideas. Ideas that should have ended one paragraph and some that could have easily been compound sentences. Blame for the hopscotch nature of the manuscript should ultimately go to publishers, Clerisy Press.
Clerisy Press was formed out the remnants of Emmis Books. Emmis Books was the publishing arm of Emmis Communications that was folded in 2006. Its former head then turned around and formed Clerisy, bringing the Crosley book with it. One has to wonder if in the transition from one publisher to the other, someone forgot to look at the manuscript. Perhaps they were only in a rush to get out titles for the fledgling new Clerisy and decided it was good enough. They seem to have decided to rely on the quality of the Crosley name to sell and not the quality behind the name, or in this case, the cover. I do not think Powel or Lewis would have appreciated that.
Despite the lack of editorial polish, I enjoyed Crosley. I am glad that co-author Rusty McClure, the last direct descendant of Lewis Crosley and last of Powel overall, managed to get this story into print. To see a video of Mr. McClure talking about the book go to: http://www.cetconnect.org/search/results.asp?q=Crosley&Go.x=13&Go.y=13#
As iconic as the name is in Cincinnati, I am surprised there is no Crosley Museum there. There is not any that I am aware of anyway outside of some items in the Cincinnati History Museum at Union Terminal, including a Crosley car. Crosley car collectors can be found at: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/crosley/.
Reproductions of Crosley Radios can be bought through a company called "Modern Marketing Concepts", http://www.crosleyradio.com/. Powel could have related to a name. Another company makes a line of home appliances bearing the Crosley name http://www.crosley.com/. Their website seems to be down as of August 2007 and I cannot tell if they are still in business, but I have seen it active in the past. Sadly, neither company is located in Cincinnati. That is too bad.
The greatest tribute to the Crosley brothers would be to see a new nameplate, “Crosley Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio”. Powel and Lewis were not about living in the past or languishing in the present, but about improving for the future. So, it would be only appropriate that a modern Crosley company developed not just reproductions of the past, or just another model of a present design, but a better way to communicate, a better way to travel, a better way improve home life. A better way and a way that was affordable to all. That was the Crosley way.