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