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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 02, 1992|KAREN STABINER

PEROT by Tod Mason (Business One Irwin: $16.95; 316 pp.) "The real Ross Perot" trumpets a quote on the book jacket from the Dallas Morning News, a reference now so stuffed with irony as to be embarrassing. By default, this is the unauthorized biography of the real Ross Perot--not the undeclared presidential candidate, but the businessman who played that part until he decided he'd had enough. Mason admits that he came tantalizingly close to getting Perot's cooperation (while Perot didn't want the book written, he was even less pleased at the notion that it would be written anyhow, without his participation), only to incur Perot's wrath when he implied to an interview source that Perot had "blessed" the project. At that, the curtain came crashing down, and Mason lost his shot, not only at Perot but also at all the family members and close friends who could have made this into a well-rounded portrait of a complicated man. Mason--who as Dallas bureau chief for Business Week covered Perot, and now writes for the Wall Street Journal--settled instead for what can only be called a business biography. We find out how Perot became a billionaire at 38, how he got involved with General Motors and was paid $700 million to get out, and how his own new company, Perot Systems Corp., has clashed with its predecessor, EDS. If Mason doesn't serve up as much on Perot the man as we'd like, well, he's in good journalistic company. Access doesn't seem high on the non-candidate's list.

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