[GEST] Best Business Books 2010

(source: Library Journal, 15/03/2011)

Business / Entreprise

Carey, David & John E. Morris. King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone. Crown Business. 391p. ISBN 9780307452993. $27.50.
The private equity world often escapes notice in business publishing circles, but in this quick-paced biography and business history, the authors shed light on that world’s activities and more spectacular buyouts by focusing particularly on the Blackstone firm and its larger-than-life principal, Steve Schwarzman. (LJ 10/1/15)

Green, Hardy. The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy. Basic Bks. 288p. ISBN 9780465018260. $26.95.
Thoughtful social history meets business history in this succinct and story-driven tale of such « company towns » as Lowell, MA, and Hershey, PA, among others. Green explores how such locally important companies affected their communities (for better and worse) and describes such modern « towns » as Google’s Googleplex.

MacIntosh, Julie. Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon. Wiley. 380p. ISBN 9780470592700. $27.95.
In a narrative that reads as fast as any fiction thriller, Financial Times journalist MacIntosh details the 2008 takeover of the iconic Anheuser-Busch brewing company by Belgian corporation InBev, focusing particularly on the company’s importance to the St. Louis region; its management, or lack thereof, by the Busch family (particularly the August Busches III and IV); and the broader unsettled economic climate of 2008.

Perino, Michael. The Hellhound of Wall Street: How Ferdinand Pecora’s Investigation of the Great Crash Forever Changed American Finance. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). 352p. ISBN 9781594202728. $27.95.
Perino recounts the 1933 Senate hearings on Wall Street excesses and malfeasance, paying special attention to the impassioned case made by Ferdinand Pecora, lead counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency (and the equally impassioned financial defense mounted by National City Bank chair Charles Mitchell). This tale resounds in today’s financial climate. (LJ 9/15/10)

Economie

Gwartney, James D. & others. Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity. St. Martin’s. 208p. ISBN 9780312644895. $21.99.
Gwartney, Richard L. Stroup, Dwight Lee, and Tawni Ferrarini offer a primer on basic economic ideas and theories, many of which they have provided in list form (e.g., « Ten Key Elements of Economic Theory »), in addition to discussing the interplay of politics and economics, and making suggestions for practicing personal financial responsibility. (LJ 9/1/10)

Lynn, Barry. Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction. Wiley. 304p. ISBN 9780470186381. $26.95.
Journalist Lynn paints a vivid but sobering picture of corporate ownership in America by exposing how a few massive entities own the majority of businesses and corporations in the global marketplace, and how those entities exploit political weaknesses and further their own interests by narrowing individual consumer choices.

Rajan, Raghuram G. Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy. Princeton Univ. 260p. ISBN 9780691146836. $26.95.
Rajan (Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, Univ. of Chicago Booth Sch. of Business) presents a readable consideration of flaws-« fault lines »-that still exist in American and global financial practices and systems, discussing growing income inequalities worldwide, easy credit, export imbalances, the lack of « safety nets » in a jobless recovery, and more.

2007–08: crise financière

Johnson, Simon & James Kwak. 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. Pantheon. 304p. ISBN 9780307379054. $26.95.
Johnson (management, MIT) and Kwak (a former McKinsey consultant) offer their take on the financial crisis of 2007–08, exploring its historical background in the Founding Fathers’ debate on banking and financial institutions. They also assert that the bailouts of America’s largest banks have only made them bigger, more powerful, and more dangerous.

Lewis, Michael. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Norton. 266p. ISBN 9780393072235. $27.95.
No one tells a business story better than Lewis (Liar’s Poker), and this narrative from the other side of the 2007–08 financial crisis is no exception. In telling the tale of the individuals who made money by betting that America’s housing bubble would burst, Lewis makes even the most complex financial products and systems comprehensible to general readers. (LJ 4/15/10)

Lowenstein, Roger. The End of Wall Street. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). 336p. ISBN 9781594202391. $27.95.
Narratives of the 2007–08 financial crisis abounded in 2010, but Lowenstein (When Genius Fails) offers one of the most comprehensive, delving further into the 2009 recession than most similar titles and in a style that’s easily understandable to general readers. He also makes connections between the actions of overzealous financial professionals and the politicians who colluded with them. (LJ 3/15/10)

McGee, Suzanne. Chasing Goldman Sachs: How the Masters of the Universe Melted Wall Street Down…And Why They’ll Take Us to the Brink Again. Crown Business. 416p. ISBN 9780307460110. $27.
Barron’s contributing editor McGee relied on more than 100 interviews for her financial history of both the investment-banking firm Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. She suggests that Goldman Sachs’s unrivaled profit making compelled other firms to engage in similarly risky (perhaps even fraudulent) strategies simply to « keep up » and speculates whether such calamities might be avoided in the future. (LJ 6/1/10)

McLean, Bethany & Joe Nocera. All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis. Portfolio. 380p. ISBN 9781591843634. $32.95.
McLean (The Smartest Guys in the Room) and New York Times reporter Nocera offer perhaps the best account of the 2007–08 financial crisis for hard-core business readers. In addition to examining the careers of well-known players like Angelo Mozilo, Lloyd Blankfein, and Alan Greenspan, they also investigate lesser-known financiers such as Moody’s former president Brian Clarkson and Fannie Mae’s Franklin Raines.

Taibbi, Matt. Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America. Spiegel & Grau. 256p. ISBN 9780385529952. $26.
Rolling Stone contributing editor Taibbi argues that politics in America largely functions as entertainment, while shortsighted economic policies hugely benefit only a minority of individuals and businesses. Chapters on the mortgage crisis, the commodities bubble, and health-care reform are excellent, but he doesn’t mince words. Only suggest this book to readers who will be able to handle Alan Greenspan being called a « one-in-a-billion asshole. » (LJ 11/15/10)

Globalisation

Weiner, Eric J. The Shadow Market: How a Group of Wealthy Nations and Powerful Investors Secretly Dominate the World. Scribner. 304p. ISBN 9781439109151. $26.
Reporter Weiner illuminates an important but little-explored aspect of globalization: how international wealth funds and private and institutional investors are buying up large amounts of assets worldwide with very little oversight or public knowledge of their existence. His story is easy to read but troubling to ponder.

Gestion/Leadership

Davis, Richard A. The Intangibles of Leadership: The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance. Jossey-Bass. 235p. ISBN 9780470679159. $29.95.
« Management psychologist » Davis distills years of research and interviews with business professionals into a list of characteristics shared by good leaders, including wisdom, will, self-insight, and fallibility; each chapter provides tips for finding and cultivating such intangibles in either one’s hires or one’s self.

Nayar, Vineet. Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down. Harvard Business Pr. 198p. ISBN 9781422139066. $24.95.
Nayar (CEO, HCL Technologies) provides a firsthand account of how he improved his organization by emphasizing the fair treatment of its employees, focusing particularly on those who regularly interacted with customers. This is a succinct blueprint for bettering customer service through managerial accountability and better communication between staff and management.

Sutton, Robert I. Good Boss, Bad Boss: How To Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst. Business Plus. 310p. ISBN 9780446556088. $23.99.
The author of the provocatively titled The No Asshole Rule strikes again in a refreshingly positive take on how individuals can learn to be good bosses, listing such commandments as listening attentively to one’s team and not holding grudges.

Marketing

Jantsch, John. The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business To Market Itself. Portfolio. 243p. ISBN 9781591843115. $25.95.
Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing) argues that typical methods of advertising and marketing are not as effective as fostering good word of mouth and referral buzz for your business. To that end, he suggests numerous ways to encourage referrals, including using social media and hiring, training, and treating employees as courteously as you expect them to treat your customers.

Ott, Adrian C. The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy. HarperBusiness. 240p. ISBN 9780061798610. $26.99.
Ott (founder, Exponential Edge, Inc.) provides new food-for-marketing thought by giving the value of consumers’ time its due as a motivating behavioral factor. She practices what she preaches by keeping her own writing concise, offering case studies of businesses that have successfully appealed to time-starved consumers and useful chapter summaries and sidebars distilling her suggestions. (LJ 8/10)

Organisation

Gansky, Lisa. The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing. Portfolio. 242p. ISBN 9781591843719. $25.95.
The founder of multiple Internet companies, Gansky here describes « mesh businesses, » those which help individuals gain access to goods and services (rather than owning such goods), and shares suggestions for gaining participants’ trust and using technology to help others find your service.

Govindarajan, Vijay & Chris Trimble. The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge. Harvard Business Pr. 220p. ISBN 9781422166963. $29.95.
The authors point out that the trouble businesses have with innovation is not a lack of innovative ideas, but rather their failure to execute those ideas efficiently. They suggest how to choose the proper team members to follow through on new ideas and provide a practical framework by which they can do so.

Heath, Chip & Dan Heath. Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard. Broadway. 320p. ISBN 9780385528757. $26.
The Heath brothers (Made To Stick) are back with a manifesto for accepting and fostering necessary changes at both the individual and the corporate levels. To make their case, they draw from a broad variety of sources, including behavioral experiments and business case studies. Their informal style makes this an easy-to-read text full of implementable ideas. (LJ 2/1/10)

Heymann, Jody, with Magda Barrera. Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder: Creating Value by Investing In Your Workforce. Harvard Business Pr. 268p. ISBN 9781422123119. $29.95.
Heymann suggests that organizations might do well by doing good-primarily by empowering employees at all levels by paying them living wages, providing scheduling flexibility, investing in health-care benefits, offering training, and encouraging employees’ ideas and innovations. (LJ 5/15/10)

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