Minding the Store

Great Writing About Business, from Tolstoy to Now

Entertaining and illuminating literary selections that explore the ethical quandaries of the workplace, collected by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Moral Lives of Children

“They don’t know me anymore.” —Willy Loman, in Death of a Salesman

In a course he taught at Harvard Business School and elsewhere for many years, esteemed psychiatrist Robert Coles asked future money market managers and risk arbitrageurs to pause for a semester and reflect on the ethical dimensions of their chosen profession.

Now, for corporate professionals, armchair entrepreneurs, and other students of commerce, Coles has gathered a generous and stimulating collection of classic literary reflections on the ethical and spiritual predicaments of the business world.

From John Cheever’s descriptions of a businessman who endures a moral crisis after stealing a neighbor’s wallet, and Gwendolyn Parker’s “Uppity Buppie,” in which an African American woman ascends to the upper ranks of corporate America, to Death of a Salesman and Tolstoy’s “Master and Man,”Minding the Store offers a richly human vision of the business world. With selections by Joseph Heller, Flannery O’Connor, Ann Beattie, and John Updike, Coles gives us the essential literary gems that illuminate the human predicaments of commerce and the moral quandaries of the marketplace.


“Who and what is Robert Coles? Social scientist, humanist, political activist, psychiatrist, minstrel, wandering storyteller, mysitc, wise man, poet, dissenter, and yes, I’ll use the word, secular saint.”
—Andrew Greely, Chicago Tribune
“By now most people know Robert Coles. Or for their own sake they ought to.”
The New York Times Book Review

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