Richard Gingras

Vice president, News, Google
Richard Gingras
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Shoulder-replacement surgery caused me to spend more time reading this summer. Here’s a selection:

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Robert K. Massie

“My spouse and I viewed a rather fun television series starring Elle Fanning called “The Great,” a rowdy, enjoyable, and occasionally truthful look at Catherine the Great and the dunderhead husband she overthrew, Peter the Third. Catherine the Great is more interesting in truth than she is in fiction. Robert Massie’s compelling history explores Russian history from Peter the Great through the French Revolution (which dampened Catherine’s philosophical “enlightenment”). Not surprisingly, we see problematic historical trends. Disturbingly corrupt leaders. Churches that cover themselves with principle while practicing stunning degrees of greed, racism, and slavery/serfdom. Sigh.”

The Overstory: A Novel, Richard Powers

“A magnificent Pulitzer Prize and Booker Prize winner that explores the relationship between humanity and botany through multiple characters. You can’t help but conclude that trees, most emblematically the ancient redwoods, are a smarter species than we are. They’ve been around longer, they know how to communicate and protect one another, and they recognize the need to balance themselves in a more complex ecosystem. Many lessons to be learned. I’ve never highlighted more thoughtful passages.”

The Big Goodnight: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, Sam Wassan

“The best book about moviemaking I’ve ever read. The movie is Chinatown. The late sixties and early seventies were a unique time and place in Hollywood. It was the time of the break between the hidebound studio system and independents. It was the time of younger talent breaking out of old models (Easy Rider, The Conversation, Rosemary’s Baby). It was the time of a crushing loss of innocence with the Charles Manson slayings. It was an exchange of the indifferent decadence of the old to the passionate, ill-advised decadence of the new. It tells the story through four fascinating key players: Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson, Robert Towne, and Robert Evans. Some (Polanski and Nicholson) were more thoughtful and admirable than the rest. It’s a great read and a great setup for repeat viewing.”

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Marc Reisner

“The focus is the development of the West via water policy and irrigation development (dams, dams, more dams). There’s a fascinating dimension regarding the role of news publishers that were key to these efforts. Yes, one could see those efforts as appropriate to community interest, but the level of corruption and self-dealing was huge. The Chandlers of the Los Angeles Times became land barons via their publishing/political interests (one of many across the West). It’s a superb read. While the author is understandably conservation focused, [the book] betrays notable innocence in the notion of feeding massive populations through small farms absent these massive water projects. Rather like thinking the hunter/gatherer model of Plains Indians could scale in a world that can’t apportion 10,000 acres to each living being.”

Bonus reading: Hilary Mantel’s brilliant Wolf Hall Trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Henry the VIII, and Anne Boleyn.”

Platforms

BUSINESS LEADERS

Global LEADERS

TECHNOLOGISTS/ENTREPRENEURS/PHILANTHROPISTS

Business Media

TV/Entertainment

Civil Rights/Freedom of Expression

Diversity/Inclusion Activists

OTHER MEDIA

TEACHERS/EXPERTS

McKinsey Leaders

Other 2020 reading lists you might want to explore

Books by McKinsey Authors

McKinsey Books

Explore our Author Talks series of interviews, 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, from leadership and talent to digital transformation, corporate finance, and more.

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

Acknowledgments

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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