Now that it\u2019s summertime and the living is (putatively) easy, it\u2019s traditional to shift gears, kick back and pick up a good book. But if you\u2019re the monomaniacal, workaholic type that can\u2019t imagine ever diverting her attention from the job long enough to sample a mystery, thriller or any other sort of light beach reading, you can dip into one of the myriad business books now available that promise to educate as well as entertain. (And when I say you, of course, I don\u2019t mean me. I wouldn\u2019t touch any of these books with the proverbial 10-foot pole.)History Comes AliveThe growing compendium of books about Jack Welch notwithstanding, a current trend in business book publishing is to hold up historical, military and sports figures as paragons of managerial acumen. One of the more intriguing recent selections is Moses on Management: 50 Leadership Lessons from the Greatest Manager of All Time, by David Baron and Lynette Padwa. I haven\u2019t actually read the book, so I can\u2019t begin to fathom how calling down a rain of frogs, afflicting your enemies with boils or parting a major body of water is analogous to any aspect of running a business. (Although it would certainly be handy. Imagine: one moment your employee is asking for a raise, the next he\u2019s neck deep in frogs. Not to mention boils.) Yet the write-up on Amazon.com makes Moses sound like a real management genius, someone who has a lot to teach CIOs grappling with decimated budgets, inchoate strategies and demoralized employees. Moses apparently was a whiz at face-to-face negotiations (having the Angel of Death in your back pocket is, of course, an ace in the hole not available to most CIOs) and a master motivator. He also never saw a crisis he couldn\u2019t turn into an opportunity for change management and empowerment. Sounds like a bona fide business guru to me.If Moses is a bit too far removed from the here and now, maybe Alan Axelrod\u2019s Elizabeth I, CEO: Strategic Lessons from a Leader Who Built an Empire will seem more relevant to our modern sensibilities. Again, I haven\u2019t exactly read it, but good Queen Bess sure sounds like a dynamo. As both a coach and mentor, Elizabeth became adept at communicating a coherent management style (Do what I say or I\u2019ll have your head cut off) and engendering loyalty (Do what I say or...). Perhaps not coincidentally, she enjoyed a 44-year tenure at the top. Not bad. As an unmarried, childless, high-achieving executive woman, Elizabeth typifies the dilemma described in Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children, by Sylvia Ann Hewitt. Hewitt profiles women who spend all their time and energy in their 20s and 30s establishing high-profile careers, only to end up single, childless and bitter by 40. Using Elizabeth\u2019s story as an object lesson, it just goes to prove that such a fate is hardly a modern phenomenon but one that befell women back in the 16th century as well. Makes one cranky. Makes one want to cut off someone\u2019s head.War and BasketballIn today\u2019s rough-and-tumble business world, the bejeweled image of Elizabeth I may not resonate. A better choice might be a slightly crumpled military man, someone like Ulysses S. Grant. In Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant, Al Kaltman reveals the Civil War general\u2019s surprisingly modern management side. To illustrate Grant\u2019s mastery of 250 principles of business success, Kaltman focuses on Grant\u2019s career ranging from his West Point days to his generalship in the war with Mexico and the war between the states. Among the tips Kaltman adumbrates are Grant\u2019s strategic planning prowess and his uncanny ability to learn from his mistakes, which, by the way, were legion. It\u2019s rather a shame that Grant couldn\u2019t translate his military successes into other aspects of his life. Before the Civil War, he was a spectacular flameout in commercial ventures, failing at real estate, farming and retailing. As president, he stood watch over an administration so corrupt and mired in special interests as to make the gang that ran Enron seem like a troop of Boy Scouts. (To be fair, it was never suggested that Grant himself was dishonest; he just made some poor staffing decisions.) But as a military man, Grant was indisputably a winner, a powerful and ruthless strategist: The sieges he levied at Vicksburg and Petersburg stand to this day as models for sticking it to the competition on its home turf.Given the state of the world, I can certainly understand if a military-themed book doesn\u2019t seem especially appealing. After all, and as we already stipulated, it is summertime. Thankfully, there\u2019s no shortage of business books written by coaches and other mavens of sport. One recent addition to the genre is Leading with the Heart: Coach K\u2019s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business and Life, by none other than Duke University\u2019s head hoops guru Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced, unaccountably, shuh-shef-skee). Running an elite athletic program, writes Coach K, is a lot like managing any business because talented individuals have to come together, gel and work as a well-oiled unit toward achieving a common goal.During his reign of more than two decades as Duke\u2019s head coach, Krzyzewski has certainly earned his reputation as a highly successful recruiter, motivator and organizer. Year in and year out, fans can see his Blue Devils at or near the top of the NCAA rankings. However, unlike just about any business on the planet, Coach K never has to contend with budget cuts or downsizing. He is never asked to win games with four players instead of five. One wonders how successful Coach K would be if he had to mold a winning team out of a bunch of clock punchers whose sole reason for showing up each day was to collect a paycheck. College basketball players, after all, sweat for glory, not silver.Or perhaps I\u2019m being naive.So Many Books, So Little TimeIf the above choices don\u2019t light your reading lamp, don\u2019t worry. There\u2019s never a shortage of oddly themed business books. How about one about the criminal underworld (The Mafia Manager: A Guide to the Corporate Machiavelli) or the spy trade (CIA, Inc.: Espionage and the Craft of Business Intelligence), just to name two. Still, as I settle in for a summer\u2019s worth of reading, I can\u2019t help but wonder why business can\u2019t be a metaphor for other life endeavors, instead of the other way \u2019round. Wouldn\u2019t you read Continuous Family Improvement: How to Fire Your Children, by Jack Welch, in which he recommends letting go of underperforming progeny? Or We Are the World 2.0, in which Bill Gates tells the leaders of the world how to get along by getting on the same platform.Now those I would read.