Rising interest rates, galloping inflation, supply chain disruption, red-hot post-pandemic labor markets and a backdrop of geopolitical and environmental crisis: the titles shortlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year ‘this year they shed new light on some of the most important. pressing business issues of the moment.
The 15 books, sifted by FT journalists from nearly 600 entries, include stories, polemics, research and analysis of the challenges facing the global economy and some of the world’s best-known business names, from General Electric and Boeing to Tencent and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. company
Several heavyweight stories compete for the £30,000 prize. They include the forthcoming edition of J Bradford DeLong Sinking into utopia: An economic history of the 20th centurywhich looks at the years from 1870 to 2010. “By the standards of all the rest of human history, [this period was] far more wonderful than terrible,” writes DeLong. But still, despite extraordinary increases in material wealth, the “long century” fell short of utopian expectations.
From a different perspective, that of Gary Gerstle The rise and fall of the neoliberal order: America and the World in the Age of the Free Market shows how the Western world embraced “neoliberalism” and the creed of free trade and free markets in the last decades of the 20th century. A wide spectrum of politicians, from Ronald Reagan to the leaders of the New Left, unleashed the power of capitalism, causing some of the unforeseen consequences the world is now experiencing.
Helen Thompson is ready disorder: Difficult times in the 21st century addresses the tensions that flared earlier this year with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She weaves the domestic, economic and geopolitical threads of recent history, against the volatile backdrop of energy politics, to show how energy still drives some of the most powerful and disruptive political trends.
Another historical angle is taken by Edward Chancellor a The price of time: The real story of interest, a controversial attack on the creed of low interest rates that has prevailed in recent years. Whether you agree with his views or not, his message is in line with the efforts of major central banks to use the monetary tool to curb rising inflation.
Three long-listed books delve into some of the tensions behind that inflationary surge.
direct: The rise of the intermediary economy and the power to go to the source, by Kathryn Judge, examines the sometimes dangerous growth of “powerful middlemen and long supply chains,” from banks to retailers to real estate agents. Judge notes how profits also bring disproportionate power and argues for a return to more direct exchange, which improves both accountability and resilience.
Chris Miller’s Chip War: The fight for the world’s most critical technology, due out in October, directly addresses one of those long supply chains, the complex and increasingly fragile network that builds and assembles semiconductors, the “new oil” on which many digital and electrical products and services, from from kettles to electric cars and nuclear power plants. , now they depend The tension around Taiwan has revealed the global dependence on a few manufacturers.
The fierce war for staff is one of the factors contributing to the economic stress. From interviews to incentives, talent: How to identify energizers, creatives and winners from around the worldby Tyler Cowen (longlisted in 2019 for Big Business) and Daniel Gross, is a very practical guide to identifying and recruiting these people, while ensuring that recruiters cast their net wide enough to ensure that they form a diverse and innovative team.
This year’s corporate blockbusters include former winner William D Cohan, who took home the award in 2007 with The last tycoons, about Lazard Frères. In its next edition Power failure: The rise and fall of General Electric, addresses the extraordinary reputational and financial decline of the conglomerate, once a seemingly impregnable bellwether for the US industrial and corporate sector. Cohan himself calls it “a cautionary tale about hubris, blind ambition, and the limits of believing in—and continually trying to live up to—a flawed corporate mythology.”
Peter Robison takes on another American corporate icon: Boeing Blind Flying: The tragedy of the 737 Max and the fall of Boeing. It is the story of the tension between profit motives and engineering excellence that Robison says led to the fatal crashes of two 737 Max 8 planes in 2018 and 2019, an outcome blamed on part of Boeing’s adherence to efficiency strategies. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE.
On the other side of the world, the rise of Tencent, developer of China’s “everything” app WeChat, is the subject of Lulu Yilun Chen Influence Empire: The story of Tencent and China’s technological ambition. It traces the career of its founder, the media-shy programmer Pony Ma. Chen also explains how he and his creation fit into China’s technological and business revolution, as well as its role in the politics and policy of modern China.
Another former winner, Sebastian Mallaby (whose biography by Alan Greenspan, The man who knewtriumphed in 2016) makes another appearance on the longlist with The Law of Power: Venture capital and the art of disruption. It’s a deep dig into the roots of the venture capital industry that underpinned the rise of Silicon Valley. Mallaby tries to answer the question “Did VCs create success or just show up?”
British venture capitalist Kate Bingham co-authored another long-listed book, The long shot: The Inside Story of the Race to Vaccinate Britain, with Tim Hames, to be released in October. They take readers into the heart of the fight against the coronavirus, drawing on Bingham’s experience after the government ousted her as head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce. Under her, he made a bold and successful bet for the development of the first vaccines, in the face of criticism and under immense pressure.
Oliver Bullough takes a less savory view of the UK’s entrepreneurial outlook Butler to the worldHow Britain became the servant of tycoons, tax evaders, kleptocrats and criminals, his controversial take on how the country deployed its post-imperial institutions in the service of the corrupt super-rich. Bullough’s richly colorful claim is that London not only launders bad people’s dirty money, but also allows them to skirt the rules and make more of it.
The central tale of dead in the water: Murder and fraud in the world’s most secretive industryby Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel, also takes place in London as a fascinating court battle unfolds over what happened to the Brillante Virtuoso, a tanker attacked by gunmen and set on fire near Aden, Yemen, in 2011. more than just a whodunnit, Campbell and Chellel use emerging revelations from the fraud courts and unsolved murder to shed light on the UK’s role in financing the shipment.
Finally, Gaia Vince will be released soon The nomadic century: How to survive climate change it paints a bleak picture of the encroaching disaster due to inevitable climate change, but it also outlines radical solutions involving migration to the northernmost and southernmost areas of the globe. Vince outlines how governments, businesses and individuals can and must prepare for this ‘species emergency’, if they are to lay the groundwork for the planet’s eventual recovery.
Additional research by Lily Willis
The winner of the £30,000 prize will be the book that offers the “most compelling and enjoyable insight” into business issues. Shortlisted titles will receive £10,000 each. The list of six titles will be announced live, via Twitter, on September 22. The award winner and the winner of the £15,000 Bracken Bower Prize (for business book proposals by an author under 35) will be announced in December. 5. Read more about the award a www.ft.com/bookaward. See a full interactive list of all books shortlisted since the prize began in 2005 https://ig.ft.com/sites/business-book-award/.