From hacking to fracking, this year’s cracking business titles

Controversy and battles of ideas set the tenor for the longlist

Two of 2014’s most controversial books – Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys – will go head to head in an attempt to become the Financial Times’s 10th business book of the year.

They join a longlist of 16 contenders for the award, backed for the first time in 2014 by McKinsey.

Piketty’s book about rising inequality – published in French in 2013 but eligible for the 2014 prize in its English translation – was criticised by the FT for data errors but fiercely defended by the author. Lewis has caused a storm with his argument that high-frequency traders rig the equity markets.

Other longlisted books stirring up debate are Hack Attack, Nick Davies’s investigation of the impact of the UK phone-hacking scandal on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, and The Glass Closet, Lord Browne’s analysis of why lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff still feel compelled to hide their sexuality at work – as the former BP chief did.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have also created waves with The Second Machine Age about the promise of new technology. Walter Isaacson makes the longlist with The Innovators, out in October, on the people behind the digital revolution. Julia Angwin looks at the dark side of data in Dragnet Nation.

Entrepreneurial and man­agement insights are offered by Creativity, Inc, Ed Catmull’s memo for managers from inside Pix­ar, the animation studio he co-founded, and by venture capitalist Ben Horowitz in The Hard Thing About Hard Things, on how to build a business. These titles are complemented by Daniel Schulman’s sweeping history of the Koch corporate dyn­asty, Sons of Wichita.

The causes and consequences of the financial crisis continue to pre­occupy authors. Ian Fraser takes another look at what went wrong at Royal Bank of Scotland in Shredded. Fragile by Design, by Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber, seeks the roots of the banking crisis. Atif Mian and Amir Sufi examine the causes of the recession in House of Debt, while Diane Coyle’s GDP offers “a brief but affectionate history” of the much misunderstood economic measure.

The list is completed by Howard French’s reportage on the growing Chinese presence in Africa, China’s Second Continent, and The Boom by Russell Gold, about the pros and cons of fracking for gas.

The judges of the award will select a shortlist of up to six finalists on September 24. The £30,000 prize will be awarded on November 11.

CoversBook TitlesAuthor/sPublisher & Publication Date
Capital in the Twenty-First CenturyThomas PikettyBelknap Press/ Harvard University Press, April 2014
China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in AfricaHoward W. FrenchAlfred A. Knopf, May 2014
Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True InspirationEd CatmullBantam Press/Transworld Publishers (UK), Random House (US), April 2014
Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless SurveillanceJulia AngwinTimes Books/Henry Holt, February 2014
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (US title)Michael LewisW. W. Norton Ltd (US), March 2014
Flash Boys: Cracking the Money Code (UK title)Michael LewisAllen Lane/ Penguin Press (UK), March 2014
Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce CreditCharles W. Calomiris and Stephen H. HaberPrinceton University Press, March 2014
GDP: A Brief but Affectionate HistoryDiane CoylePrinceton University Press, March 2014
Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught up With Rupert MurdochNick DaviesChatto & Windus (UK), Faber & Faber (US), July 2014
House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It From Happening AgainAtif Mian and Amir SufiUniversity of Chicago Press, June 2014
Shredded: Inside RBS, the Bank that Broke BritainIan FraserBirlinn Ltd, June 2014
Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private DynastyDaniel SchulmanGrand Central Publishing, May 2014
The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the WorldRussell GoldSimon & Schuster, April 2014
The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business (US Cover)John Browne HarperCollins/
HarperBusiness (US), May 2014
The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business (UK Cover)John BrowneWH Allen/Ebury Publishing (UK), May 2014
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy AnswersBen HorowitzHarperCollins/ HarperBusiness, March 2014
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionWalter IsaacsonSimon & Schuster, October 2014
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant TechnologiesErik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfeeW. W. Norton Ltd, February 2014
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