Books: Pearls of hard-won wisdom

Gerald Ratner's 'crap' speech cost him his family business, but he bounced back, still not sure what he did wrong. Chris Salt reviews a life story with real lessons.

Gerald Ratner: The rise and fall... and rise again; Gerald Ratner; Capstone £18.99.

Infamy, infamy. They've all got it in for me! More Kenneth Williams than Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. But there's a lot about jewellery retailer Gerald Ratner's autobiography that feels like the world has it in for him.

It started with the tabloid headlines in April 1991 following his disastrous 'crap' speech at the Institute of Directors ('People say, "How can you sell this for such a low price?" I say, because it's total crap.'). But it continued for the following months when he stayed in place at the fast-failing jewellery company, and his time in the wilderness, until his partial rehabilitation through Geraldonline, said to be the UK's largest online jewellery business.

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