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Reviewed by Randy B. Lichtman for Readers' Favorite
One of the most interesting history books on entrepreneurs that I have read is Innovation on Tap: Stories of Entrepreneurship from the Cotton Gin to Broadway’s Hamilton by Eric B. Schultz. The stories on each entrepreneur are well crafted and relevant, always emphasizing the impact they had on our culture and society. When one thinks of entrepreneurship and innovation, we often think of a person who has made an impact on business alone, but the entrepreneurs in this volume have been inventors, musicians, environmentalists, community leaders, and other categories as well. There is a diverse group of individuals going from various points in history in themes of mechanization, mass production, consumerism, sustainability, digitization, and social and cultural entrepreneurship.
We learn so much about major forces in entrepreneurship and innovation including Eli Whitney who invented and ultimately had to defend his rights to the cotton gin and the use of interchangeable parts; King Gillette who developed the idea of a razor and disposable razor blades with his inventor friend William Nickerson; John Merrick who established the Mechanics and Farmers Bank in order to meet the needs of African-American businessmen who were unable to obtain loans from white-owned banks; Willis Carrier who invented and developed the business of air conditioning; Elizabeth Arden who became a major developer and marketer of beauty products; Alfred Sloan at General Motors who changed the face of automobile branding and marketing; and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author who wrote and composed the well-known and critically acclaimed musical, Hamilton.
There are many other entrepreneurs, some not as well known, who have made great contributions to our society. Their stories are told in an interesting storytelling style, making us want to learn more about each one—a total of 33 in all are described with evidence of in-depth research. We learn about their achievements and challenges throughout this excellent volume. A fictional bar established by the author becomes an effective mechanism where these innovators interact with each other from different periods, and allows for a successful transition from one story to another. For readers interested in entrepreneurship, innovation, and people who made a difference in our society, Innovation on Tap: Stories of Entrepreneurship from the Cotton Gin to Broadway’s Hamilton by Eric B. Schultz is a great read!