Tobias, Andrew (Previn) 1947-
TOBIAS, Andrew (Previn) 1947-
PERSONAL: Born April 20, 1947, in New York, NY; son of Seth D. (chairman of an advertising agency) and Audrey J. (president of a national service organization; Landau) Tobias. Ethnicity: Caucasian. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (cum laude), 1968, M.B.A., 1972. Politics: Democrat.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—683 Northeast 69th St., Miami, FL 33138. Agent—Sterling Lord Literistic, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10021.
CAREER: Harvard Student Agencies, Inc., Cambridge, MA, president, 1967-68; National Student Marketing Corp., New York, NY, vice-president, 1968-70. Editor and writer, 1970—. Cohost, Beyond Wall Street, Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 1997; treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, c. 2003.
AWARDS, HONORS: Gerald Loeb Award, 1984, for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism; Media Service Award, Consumer Federation of America, 1993; Smith-Weld Prize, Harvard, 1998.
(Editor) How to Earn (a Lot of) Money in College, Harvard Student Agencies, Inc., 1968.
(With Arnold Bortz and Caspar W. Weinberger, Jr.) The Ivy League Guidebook, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1968.
Honor Grades on Fifteen Hours a Week; or, How to Keep Studies from Interfering with Your College Education, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1969.
The Funny Money Game, Playboy Press (Chicago, IL), 1971.
(Under pseudonym John Reid) The Best Little Boy in the World (memoir), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1973.
Fire and Ice: The Story of Charles Revson, the Man Who Built the Revlon Empire, Morrow (New York, NY), 1974.
The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1977, revised edition, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1996, expanded edition published as The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need: How to Manage Your Money in Today's Economy, 2002.
Getting By on $100,000 a Year, and Other Sad Tales, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1980.
The Invisible Bankers: Everything the Insurance Industry Never Wanted You to Know, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.
Money Angles, Linden Press (New York, NY), 1984.
Managing Your Money (computer program), Micro Education Corporation of America, 1984, 7th edition, Brady (New York, NY), 1991.
How to Avoid a Mid-life Financial Crisis (computer program), Random (New York, NY), 1988, revised edition published as How to Avoid a Personal Financial Crisis, 1992.
Kids Say, Don't Smoke: Posters from the New York City Smoke-Free Contest, Workman (New York, NY), 1991.
Auto Insurance Alert!, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.
My Vast Fortune: The Money Adventures of a Quixotic Capitalist, Random House (New York, NY), 1997.
The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.
Author of column in Playboy, 1983-87. Contributor to periodicals, including Playboy, Esquire, New York, Parade, Worth, Time, and Fortune. Contributing editor, New York Magazine, 1972-76, and Esquire, 1977-1984.
SIDELIGHTS: Andrew Tobias is a notable business writer who has distinguished himself as an accessible and engaging analyst of economic trends and transactions. According to Ann Chamberlain, writing in the Washington Post Book World, Tobias "can wade fearlessly into the most abstruse financial transaction and emerge with an account of what happened that reads like The Ipcress File."
Tobias began his writing career in the late 1960s while he was still a student at Harvard University. In 1969 he published Honor Grades on Fifteen Hours a Week, which serves as an indication of the breezy but informed approach that has become his trademark. Two years later, he produced The Funny Money Game, which chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the National Student Marketing Corporation, a expansion-oriented conglomerate which employed Tobias as vice president.
In his book Fire and Ice: The Story of Charles Revson, Tobias profiles cosmetics magnate Charles Revson, who enjoyed considerable success even as he alienated his business associates. "Tobias does his level best to separate the true from the merely vengeful, seeking confirmation or modification where he can, but not letting the lack of it stand in the way of including a good story," New York Times reviewer Richard R. Lingeman noted. "His seine catches a lot of the muck, which should please gossip fans who like theirs down and dirty. Yet he clings to a seriousness of purpose on the whole and is fair, with a sympathetic bias toward Revson."
The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need, Tobias's ensuing publication, addresses a range of investment issues, including taxes, interest rates, and profit margins, and it even offers advice on budgeting. Reviewing a 2002 revision, titled The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need: How to Manage Your Money in Today's Economy, Norman B. Hutcherson, writing in Library Journal, hailed the book as "concise, focused, and entertaining." Mary Scott, meanwhile, acknowledged Tobias's book as a "classic," and she noted in Research that "financial writers have been recommending [The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need] . . . since it was first published."
Both Fire and Ice and The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need proved popular with American book buyers, and Tobias's promotional tours across the United States not only boosted sales but put him in touch with his readers. He explained to Publishers Weekly interviewer Stella Dong that his writing "has to make sense and be fun to read for the average person. The challenge is to do that without being wrong or oversimplifying the subject."
In 1982, Tobias published The Invisible Bankers: Everything the Insurance Industry Never Wanted You to Know, which took five years to research and write. "I'd like to tell you that I bugged the office of the president of a major insurance company or that I had secret meetings in dark parking lots with some incredible Deep Throat source," he told Stella Dong. "But actually I spent most of my time poring over industry reports with titles like 'Best's Aggregates and Averages.' If I told you more your eyes would glaze over."
In The Invisible Bankers, Tobias criticizes the present insurance system, but he also makes suggestions for improvement. "He proposes subjecting insurers to Federal oversight because the state regulators who now govern them are too closely allied with the industry," explained Susan Dentzer in Newsweek. She added that Tobias also recommends that "how much insurers would likely pay out in claims, or interest on a given insurance policy would be printed at the beginning to encourage price-cutting and comparison shopping." Furthermore, as Dentzer related, Tobias advocates a nationwide system of no-fault automobile coverage that would "get more money to the victims of auto accidents and less to lawyers waging liability suits or insurance agents selling the coverage."
Some of Tobias's suggestions struck critics as simplistic. Washington Post Book World reviewer Ronald Kessler, for example, desired more evidence and contended that "the book fails repeatedly to support its points with specific examples or documentation." But Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times assessed Tobias's approach differently, declaring, "The real reason he has softened his muckraking—the real reason his book maintains its good-humored tone throughout and steadfastly avoids any hair-tearing or screeching—is because muckraking is so much more effective when done that way."
With The Invisible Bankers, Tobias realized further success. A Publishers Weekly critic described him as "a genius who can transform a billion dull dollars into a million loud laughs," and Peter Passell praised him in the New York Times Book Review as a writer with the "ability to transform a dense analysis of insurance into a good read." Passell added that Tobias unearths "the venality and sloth of an industry only marginally accountable to the public."
Tobias's later works include My Vast Fortune: The Money Adventures of a Quixotic Capitalist, wherein he relates his own exploits in personal finance. Richard S. Drezen, writing in Library Journal, affirmed that "Tobias writes with wit," while David Rouse, in a Booklist appraisal, summarized My Vast Fortune as "a delight to read."
Tobias, writing as John Reid, is also the author of The Best Little Boy in the World, a 1973 memoir of his early experiences as a homosexual. In 1998, under his own name, Tobias produced a sequel, The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up, in which he relates events in his life since the appearance of the earlier volume. Michael A. Lutes, in a Library Journal analysis, called The Best Little Boy in the World a "classic memoir," and he deemed The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up "a poignant and riveting sequel." Another reviewer, Philip Gambone, described the sequel, in Lambda Book Report, as a "well-meaning if rather dull book," but he added that "the overall picture of Andrew Tobias . . . is of an intelligent, fair-minded, sincere, earnest and courageous man."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1997, David Rouse, review of My Vast Fortune: The Money Adventures of a Quixotic Capitalist, p. 188.
Lambda Book Report, October, 1998, Philip Gambone, review of The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up.
Library Journal, October 1, 1997, Richard S. Drezen, review of My Vast Fortune, p. 97; September 15, 1998, Michael A. Lutes, review of The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up, p. 88; January, 2000, Norman B. Hutcherson, review of The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need: How to Manage Your Money in Today's Economy, p. 120.
Newsweek, March 1, 1982, Susan Dentzer, review of The Invisible Bankers: Everything the Insurance Industry Never Wanted You to Know.
New York Times, April 21, 1968, August 25, 1976, February 22, 1978, May 21, 1978, August 31, 1980, February 18, 1982.
New York Times Book Review, March 14, 1982, Peter Passell, review of The Invisible Bankers.
Publishers Weekly, July 11, 1980, December 18, 1981, January 22, 1982; July 20, 1998, review of The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need, p. 196.
Research, January, 2002, Mary Scott, review of The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need, p. 73.
Washington Post Book World, August 24, 1980; February 14, 1982.
Andrew Tobias Home Page, http://www.andrewtobias.com (July 17, 2002).*