Joseph E. Stiglitz

Professor, Columbia Business School
2001 recipient, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
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Photo Credit: Danial Baud and the Sydney Opera House

Mapmaker’s Wife by Robert Whittaker

“About a French scientific expedition to Peru in the 18th century and the life of cartographer Jean Godin, who marries a Peruvian woman and is separated from her for 20 years. A gripping read that has it all: science, adventure, fascinating glimpses of daily life in Peru as well as the wilderness.”

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

“Everyone seems to be reading at least one book about the 1918 flu. I like this one because it has a lot of science in it and talks about how the medical discoveries were made and the lives of the great researchers. With the exception of Johns Hopkins medical school, US medical schools were well behind those in Germany for much of US history. Depressing to note that denial, politicking, and belief in quackery stymied the public and government response in 1918 just as it has today.”

Heavy by Kiese Laymon

“David Cole, the national legal director of the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], recommended this and now I can’t put it down. Laymon was raised by his grandmother and his professor mother, who had very high standards and tried to keep his body safe in Mississippi, as well as pushed him to write. His description of the violence and sexual abuse that surrounded him during his childhood is unforgettable. So is his description of racism in academia.”

Too Much and Never Enough: How my Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump

“Well written and delves deep into the psychology of Trump as well as his childhood. If you want to understand his inner workings, then this book adds to the literature. Trump views her uncle as a sociopath and goes back into family history to explain the dynamics that created [what some believe] is the worst president the US has ever had.”




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McKinsey Leaders

Other 2020 reading lists you might want to explore

Books by McKinsey Authors

McKinsey on Books

Explore this month’s best-selling business books, prepared exclusively for McKinsey Publishing by NPD, and a collection of books by McKinsey authors on the management issues that matter.

Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies, 7th edition

At the crossroads of corporate strategy and finance lies valuation. This book enables everyone, from the budding professional to the seasoned manager, to excel at measuring and maximizing shareholder and company value.

Fast Times: How digital winners set direction, learn, and adapt

Winning in the digital age requires both lightning speed and thoughtful deliberation. Companies able to master this paradox are emerging as today's winners. Those that can't will be sold for parts.

Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick

– The new book on how to beat the odds with a bold strategy


It takes a village to curate amazing lists from this rather busy group of leaders from all over the world. We would like to thank Nikhil Deogun, Mitra S. Kalita, Gabriella Stern, Rebecca Lowell Edwards, Steve Lipin, Sara Blask, Karen Wickre, Ailish Campbell, Anya Schiffrin, Tom Weber, Shernaz Daver, Jose Zamora, and Judi Mackey for their help.

Within McKinsey Global Publishing, Mike Borruso, Heather Byer, Philip Mathew, Louis Vizzi, Dan Redding, and Torea Frey were instrumental in making this year’s list come alive.

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