The Essential William H. Whyte

The Essential William H. Whyte

The Essential William H. Whyte

The Essential William H. Whyte


The Essential William H. Whyte offers the core writings of a great observer of the postwar American scene. Included are selections from The Organization Man, Securing Space for Urban America: Conservation Easements, The Last Landscape, The Social Life of Urban Spaces, and City: Rediscovering the Center, as well as many of Whyte's articles from Fortune Magazine.


William Hollingsworth Whyte Jr. was born on October 1, 1917, and reared in the town of West Chester, in Pennsylvania's bucolic Brandywine Valley about 25 miles west of Philadelphia. He graduated cum laude from Princeton University in 1939. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1941 as Intelligence Officer in the 1st Marine Division, served through the entire Guadalcanal campaign, and was discharged in 1945 with the rank of captain. He joined Fortune magazine the next year and quickly rose to Assistant Managing Editor. His first book, Is Anybody Listening?, on which he was listed as co-author with the editors of Fortune, was published in 1952 and carried the subtitle, How and Why U.S. Business Fumbles When It Talks With Human Beings.

Whyte's next book, which would make him internationally famous, grew out of a series of Fortune articles and was presented as "his attempt to trace the long-range shift American organization life is bringing about in Americans' personal values." Published in 1956, The Organization Man caused a sensation and went on to sell over two million copies in a dozen languages.

Whyte was an astute observer who reported how people actually behaved (rather than how we assume we behave). A charitable critic with a real moral bent, Whyte was cheerful by nature, ever the optimist; even if his observations about postwar American life were laced with warnings, some of them quite ominous, Whyte was always thinking positively, and he was clearly a patriot. His affable personality and the agreeableness of his prose permitted him to go further in his social criticism than was typical in the popular media of the day, and people listened.

The financial success of The Organization Man allowed Whyte to give up his big office and salary at Fortune and turn to the full-time study of how to preserve and improve the quality of America's rural open spaces. In 1959 . . .

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