For your reading list: the 2019 Business Book of the Year shortlist

The shortlist for the 2019 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year is long on ambition and quality and far-ranging in subject matter.

“This year’s authors probe critical challenges that every business is struggling with,” said Kate Smaje, the McKinsey senior partner who announced the shortlist recently in London. 

Kate Smaje, senior partner at McKinsey
McKinsey senior partner Kate Smaje, presenting the shortlist in London.
Kate Smaje, senior partner at McKinsey

Those authors include eminent historians and economists, AI experts and journalists, and a former head of a central bank. Together, their books cover the global economy, capitalism, innovation, machine learning, gender and pay, community and social capital, markets, and more.

Three of the titles examine the extraordinary power of data, from systematically diminishing the lives of women on a daily basis to enabling the conquest of entire financial markets.

The award, with a £30,000 prize, will be presented in New York on December 3.
A peek inside the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year judges’ room.
The award, with a £30,000 prize, will be presented in New York on December 3.

One book shines a light on the secretive, five-decade story of Koch Industries. And the final two offer more human perspectives: the power of community to ease economic inequity and the benefits of being a generalist and “dabbler” in a highly specialized world.

FT editor Lionel Barber is chairing the judges panel, who will select a winner of the award and the £30,000 prize that will be presented in New York on December 3.

Here’s a look at some of the best business reading this year.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

By Shoshana Zuboff

A first-of-its-kind look at the what it means to be human in the digital age, this book uncovers how corporations are using technology to predict, control, and profit from our behavior in myriad ways with little or no oversight: welcome to the world of surveillance capitalism.

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

By Caroline Criado Perez

This book delivers a close examination of the ways that intrinsic bias in the data that designers and developers use to create products, services, and experiences chips away at the physical, social, mental, and economic well-being of women.

What executives are reading in 2019

Find out what executives are reading in 2019

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

By Gregory Zuckerman

This is the story of how former Soviet codebreaker and mathematician Jim Simons and his team of “quants”—physicists, computer scientists, and data experts—came to dominate financial markets by using data-fed algorithms to discern and leverage hidden patterns.

The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind

By Raghuram Rajan

This book, by the former head of the Reserve Bank of India and chief economist at the IMF, outlines the potential for stronger local communities to counterbalance the economic and social inequity and despair created by the concentrated powers of global markets and the state.

Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America

By Christopher Leonard

Seven years in the making, this history of Koch Industries traces the corporation’s tremendous success as one of the largest private businesses in worlds. While not ignoring the more familiar angles, it gives the deepest look yet at the distinctive business model that helped fuel the rise of one of the world’s most valuable as well as powerful companies.

Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

By David Epstein

This is a treatise in favor of dabblers, procrastinators, and quitters—in other words, generalists who follow their interests and even quit when bored. They may be better prepared to excel than highly trained specialists because they can navigate learning environments that are “wicked,” ambiguous, and unpredictable.

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