Cover brought to you by...Swingline Staplers!

Jack Linsky came to the United States from Czarist Russia in 1904, when he was 7. His career is a rags-to-riches story. He started out as a delivery boy for a stationery store at the age of 14 and became highly-paid salesman at the age of 17, earning $21 week. No sarcasm intended here: that was a lot of money in 1914.

He founded his own wholesale office products business and was dissatisfied with the state of the art of stapling machines. He and his engineers invented the modern hand-loaded stapler. The manufacturing concern started as a partnership between Linksy and his wife Belle, and in later incarnations took the name "Parrot Speed Fastener Corporation" and later just "Speed Fastener Corporation." But the biggest and best-known name for this product was picked by Belle Linsky herself in 1935. It has been written that perhaps she was inspired by the buzz around the new picture that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were making called Swing Time.

Who among us has not owned a Swingline stapler? Who among us owns a stapler that doesn't carry the brand name Swingline?

The Linskys were also very savvy collectors of art, and the piece decorating the front cover of my book is from their collection, which has its own space in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This piece is a very small oil painting on a block of wood. Its original French title is Le Billard, which really means the billiard table and not the billiard room.