The Company, one-third of The AM Best Business Trilogy, is a massive, well-researched, intricately sourced, in-depth book with a significant number of photographs, including full-color offferings. The book explores the founding and development of AM Best, a “full-service credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry.”
Interesting biographical information about the Best family appears throughout, starting with Irish immigrant, William Best (the father of company founder Alfred M. Best) who was likely tragically murdered, and going down through the generations. Stories are shared about how the company was nurtured from a startup in 1899 through its rise to a century-plus-old, well-established industry leader and global enterprise.
Challenges faced and opportunities seized by Alfred Best and other company officials are placed within the context of national and global events. These include more obvious ones—two world wars, the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and 9/11—but also less expected events that had a significant impact on their business: the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the Temporary National Economic Committee of 1938, the transition to Internet-based operations and more.
Largely chronological in structure, The Company contains plenty of organizational headlines and sub-headlines for easy navigation, large numbers of endnotes, and a well-formulated, detailed index. Many stories are, naturally, business-like in tone but still reasonably accessible for general readers.
At 605 pages, the length of this book (not to be read in one sitting!) may be off-putting to some readers. However, despite the occasional inclusion of mathematical ratios, debates about credit rating formulas, and risk calculations, the writing style is engaging, rather than dry, and delightful anecdotes about human nature are interspersed throughout. Readers will enjoy, for example, the story of one man who was fired from another company for chewing gum who went on to enjoy a long, fruitful career at AM Best.
This thoughtfully produced book would likely be appreciated most by those with an interest in business or finance, although it may also appeal to readers who enjoy learning about how events in American history impacted our country’s development and evolution.
Also available as an ebook.