Magee, David 1965–

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Magee, David 1965–


Born November 27, 1965; married; children: three.


Home—Lookout Mountain, TN. E-mail—[email protected].


Journalist. Has written for Associated Press, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Oxford Eagle, and Chattanooga Times Free Press.


Turnaround: How Carlos Ghosn Rescued Nissan, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 2003.

Ford Tough: Bill Ford and the Battle to Rebuild America's Automaker, John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

The John Deere Way: Performance That Endures, John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

Endurance: Winning Life's Majors, the Phil Mickelson Way, John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

MoonPie: Biography of an Out-of-this-world Snack, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2007.

How Toyota Became #1: Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company, Portfolio (New York, NY), 2007.


A business journalist with a particular interest in the automobile industry, David Magee has written biographical treatments of two auto executives and the companies they shaped, or rather reshaped. Turnaround: How Carlos Ghosn Rescued Nissan is a dramatic tale of a remarkable executive who seems to embody the multinational nature of the auto industry. Booklist reviewer David Siegfried explained: "The ultimate international businessman, Ghosn is of Lebanese descent, born in Brazil and raised as a French citizen." When French automaker Renault bought out Nissan in the 1990s, they gave Ghosn, one of their most promising vice presidents, the task of turning around the ailing Japanese company. In addition to the challenges of coming into an unfamiliar company, Ghosn "also had to confront an entrenched Japanese business culture that at that time had seemed to stress perks, seniority and relationships over the bottom line," in the words of a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Ghosn started cutting costs, enforcing greater accountability, and closing unprofitable plants. At the same time, he was careful to reach out to his colleagues and employees. "Perhaps the most instructive sections of the book are the depictions of Mr. Ghosn's approach to confronting a new land, new ways and new problems," commented New York Times contributor Alan Cowell. "He does so not by issuing orders from the top, according to Mr. Magee, but by bringing together managers and executives from different disciplines, regions and cultures and forcing them to work in ‘cross-functional teams’ to devise turnaround solutions." With his team behind him, Ghosn announced in 1999 that he and his executive committee would resign if the company was not profitable by the end of 2000. Fortunately for him and Nissan, they met that goal, a dramatic turnaround for a company facing bankruptcy just a few years earlier. Steven J. Mayover concluded in Library Journal: "Ma- gee's very readable account focuses on Ghosn's strategies, making this a fine case study for the business student and academic."

In contrast to Ghosn, Bill Ford bears a name emblematic of the automobile industry and closely bound up with the economic history of the United States. However, in some ways Ford and Ghosn faced similar problems in turning around a company and challenging a corporate culture, as Magee recounts in Ford Tough: Bill Ford and the Battle to Rebuild America's Automaker. In the 1990s, under the leadership of Jacques Nasser, the company had begun to rely almost exclusively on sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks for its profits. Beginning in 2001, when he became the first Ford to head the company since 1979, Bill Ford sought to return to the smaller vehicles that used to be the backbone of the industry, even declaring 2004 "The Year of the Car." Unfortunately, according to Boston Globe contributor Royal Ford: "Magee's book tells followers of the auto industry little that most have not gleaned in substance from trade journals, the business press, and even parts of the popular press." While finding the book a bit "premature," Car contributor Jim Burt still felt that "Magee's book is worth reading. Bill Ford is a good story, as is his attempt to right the ship."

Magee takes a look at a very different kind of vehicle in The John Deere Way: Performance That Endures. Founded in 1837, the John Deere company has maintained a strong market share and an excellent reputation for generations. Regardless of the changes in the nation, the corporation has remained strongly rooted in its original ideals and mission statement, altering its business only as was needed to continue to serve its customers. A reviewer for Reference & Research Book News observed that "Magee found that John Deere's success comes largely from its core values."

Endurance: Winning Life's Majors, the Phil Mickelson Way looks at a different kind of persistence and adherence to quality, addressing the drive, stamina, and work required to reach the pinnacle of the golf world and maintain a love of the game at the same time. Magee offers both fans and casual readers a clear look at Mickelson's career, his perseverance, and the family and friends who support his efforts on the course and off. In addition, he includes interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Mickelson took a class in music appreciation and found that the musical rhythms translated over to the beat and pacing of the swing of a golf club. Steven Silkunas pointed out in Library Journal that Mickelson still has many years left to his career, while concluding: "This book is well done."

MoonPie: Biography of an Out-of-this-world Snack gives Magee the opportunity to show off his sense of humor. Going back in time, he traces the history of the MoonPie, a graham cracker and marshmallow sandwich coated with chocolate that was the favorite snack for several generations of children and their parents. The treat originated in 1917 at a bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and early on was eaten by coal miners working in the region. Magee collected personal memories from a range of people, all of whom thought fondly of the MoonPies they enjoyed in their youth. He also relates the struggle of the company that produced the treat, a family-owned business that survived through hard economic times, often on the strength of sales of this popular snack. Library Journal critic Lisa A. Ennis affirmed that "Magee's work is an important addition to the study of food in the American memory and is also fun and informative."

How Toyota Became #1: Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company looks at the success of the Toyota Corporation through both good economic times and bad. Magee examines what makes the company tick and how it has managed to produce a superior product that sells reliably, regardless of the innovations produced by the competition. He looks at the cars, the management structure, and the principles that were set down by the company's founder. While a contributor to Publishers Weekly felt that "his overwhelming praise for Toyota's methods reads suspiciously like hagiography," Booklist reviewer David Siegfried insisted that "Magee provides an excellent view of a shining business model."

Magee told CA: "I grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, one of the most literary small towns in America. Maybe THE most. I had friends who were writers and I was a onetime newspaper editor and columnist, so writing for a living seemed attainable. I did not want to try the difficult road of fiction and I have always enjoyed telling true, untold stories … so I decided to write but go after these stories, no matter the nonfiction category.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is how difficult the profession is from a sales and marketing standpoint. My people think the hardest aspect is writing the actual book. That might be the easiest. You have to give people a special reason to buy a book. Over the years I have learned more and more about what works in this regard but there is still much to learn. My favorite book is probably MoonPie because it is the first time I captured my true voice. And it is a cultural story, which I think interests me the most.

"Each time I write a book I want to produce something that will make people see themselves and the world around them differently. That can be a difficult task, especially when writing about a subject like an automaker—but our lives revolve around cars, the environment, and the economy—so in that case, I try to make these impacts clear, exposing the available lessons to learn."



Booklist, March 15, 2003, David Siegfried, review of Turnaround: How Carlos Ghosn Rescued Nissan, p. 1261; October 15, 2007, David Siegfried, review of How Toyota Became #1: Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company, p. 26.

Boston Globe, November 7, 2004, Royal Ford, "Automaker Tale Never Looks under the Hood," review of Ford Tough: Bill Ford and the Battle to Rebuild America's Automaker, p. C2.

Library Bookwatch, January, 2005, review of Ford Tough.

Library Journal, February 15, 2003, Steven J. Mayover, review of Turnaround, p. 146; April 15, 2005, Steven Silkunas, review of Endurance: Winning Life's Majors, the Phil Mickelson Way, p. 98; January 1, 2007, Lisa A. Ennis, review of MoonPie: Biography of an Out-of-this-world Snack, p. 132.

New York Times, February 9, 2003, Alan Cowell, "N-I-S-S-A-N: Rah! Rah! Rah!," review of Turnaround, p. 36.

Publishers Weekly, January 13, 2003, review of Turnaround, p. 51; September 3, 2007, review of How Toyota Became #1, p. 53.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2006, review of The John Deere Way: Performance That Endures.

ONLINE, (March 23, 2005) Jim Burt, review of Ford Tough.

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Magee, David 1965–

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