Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric

Thomas Gryta (Author) Ted Mann (Author)



How could General Electric--perhaps America's most iconic corporation--suffer such a swift and sudden fall from grace?

This is the definitive history of General Electric's epic decline, as told by the two Wall Street Journal reporters who covered its fall.

Since its founding in 1892, GE has been more than just a corporation. For generations, it was job security, a solidly safe investment, and an elite business education for top managers.

GE electrified America, powering everything from lightbulbs to turbines, and became fully integrated into the American societal mindset as few companies ever had. And after two decades of leadership under legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE entered the twenty-first century as America's most valuable corporation. Yet, fewer than two decades later, the GE of old was gone.

Lights Out examines how Welch's handpicked successor, Jeff Immelt, tried to fix flaws in Welch's profit machine, while stumbling headlong into mistakes of his own. In the end, GE's traditional win-at-all-costs driven culture seemed to lose its direction, which ultimately caused the company's decline on both a personal and organizational scale. Lights Out details how one of America's all-time great companies has been reduced to a cautionary tale for our times.

Product Details

$28.00  $25.76
Houghton Mifflin
Publish Date
July 21, 2020
6.0 X 1.3 X 9.1 inches | 1.23 pounds

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About the Author

TED MANN is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where he covered General Electric from 2014 to 2017. He lives in Washington, DC.

THOMAS GRYTA writes about General Electric and other industrial conglomerates for the Wall Street Journal. He lives in New Jersey.


"A gripping and deeply reported account of the devastating disintegration of one of the most iconic firms ever to exist. To all of us shocked by GE's seemingly abrupt fall from grace, this book lays out in painful detail how such a thing could have happened."--Rita McGrath, Columbia Business School, author of Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen

"Gryta and Mann tell a bracing tale of corporate venality, incompetence, and shortsighted deal-making. It's a parable with no heroes, but many lessons for anyone who wants to know how 21st Century corporate management, which venerates stock price above all other measures of value, has gone so disastrously awry." --Andrew Rice, New York Magazine

"Lights Out is the definitive story of an American business powerhouse losing its way. Gryta and Mann's meticulous reporting puts us in the rooms--and on the private jets--where GE's leaders struggled over the company's fate, with billions of dollars in the balance. More than just an intimate profile of one company, this book is a captivating tale of human complexity, greed, and hubris." --Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind: Drugs. Murder. Empire. Betrayal

"This vital history of an American institution warns us of what happens when a company pursues growth for growth's sake, and its leaders struggle to understand what they can and cannot control." --David Gura, Anchor and Correspondent, MSNBC

"Possessing all the suspense of a true-crime account, Gryta and Mann's riveting look at GE's previous two decades underlines the harsh facts of survival in 21st-century business." --Publishers Weekly