In 19 profiles, Geist proves in a humorous way that Americans have not lost their entrepreneurial spirit. His collection of offbeat endeavors ranges from the king of infomercials (Ron Popeil) to the man who conceived the idea for the Houston Astrodome (Judge Roy Hofheinz). Geist (Little League Confidential) is at his best in relating the more unusual antics by the likes of the men who make a living diving for used golf balls or how the idea for a fish channel on cable television was developed (``fish niche''). No matter what the subject, Geist's touch is light, and he has the ability to come up with unusual facts, such as that the manicure market is a $4.5 billion industry. In his chapter on the evolution of talk shows, he elicits the response from the creator of several talk programs (Burt Dubrow, who discovered Sally Jesse Raphael) that the greatest influence on his work was Howdy Doody. Geist clearly admires those who have the guts to follow their dreams. (Nov.)
Geist, a commentator for CBS Sunday Morning and 48 Hours and the author of Little League Confidential (LJ 3/1/92), introduces readers to America's unsung entrepreneurial heroes in this collection of short profiles. His subjects include the legendary Ron Popeil (of Pocket Fisherman and Veg-O-Matic fame), as well as the creative minds behind cable television's surprise hit Fish Channel, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the book's titular monster trucks and spray-on hair products. Geist coaxes excellent comic mile-age out of this material, writing with an easy, entertaining flair. Fans of Dave Barry and Lewis Grizzard should enjoy Geist's brand of one-liner journalism. Recommended for mid- to large-sized general-interest collections.-Alex Wright, Harvard Coll. Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
As the U.S. economy slips ever further into the much-maligned service sector, economists and political pundits decry the fact that we just don't make anything anymore. Geist gives the lie to these whiners with a hilarious survey of the glitz, froth, and just plain crap made in the U.S.A. far more prolifically than in any other society--ever. Not only do we produce the stuff--we sell the bejesus out of it! It constitutes our most potent cultural currency. In chapters on the fingernail industry, professional bass fishing, and many other modern endeavors, Geist affords whirlwind tours of many facets of the vibrant American cultural marketplace. His chapter on Ron Popeil, the amazing and prolific inventor who developed the "infomercial" and marketed thousands ("millions"?) of Veg-o-matics and Pocket Fishermen, is worth the price of the book many times over; in fact, it ought to spawn further research and a book-length study.