Business Book Award longlist: must-read titles of 2015

Theme of technology edges ahead of workplace and capitalism to dominate this year’s must-read titles

The promise and perils of technology dominate the longlist for this year’s Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.

The 15 titles include Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk, a biography of the charismatic entrepreneur behind the Tesla electric car, Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper, on the development of the virtual currency bitcoin, and The Rise of the Robots, by Martin Ford, about jobs and automation.

Only one technology book has won the prize before — The Everything Store, about Amazon, in 2013. But this year’s tech contenders also include: How Music Got Free, Stephen Witt’s story of how online piracy nearly brought down the recording industry; Losing the Signal, by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, about the rise and fall of BlackBerry; and Steve LeVine’s investigation of how battery science is advancing, The Powerhouse.

Also in the running this year is Anne-Marie Slaughter’s keenly awaited Unfinished Business, due out next month. Slaughter’s book about how to narrow the gender gap is certain to reignite debate about the alternative vision laid out by Sheryl Sandberg, author of 2013 finalist Lean In.

Economists again feature heavily. Mihir Sharma offers a prescription for India’s revival in Restart. Barry Eichengreen compares the lessons from the Great Depression and the recent global credit crisis in Hall of Mirrors. Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman examine another global crisis — that of climate change — in Climate Shock.

Ten years after Freakonomics, one of the first popular books on behavioural economics, made the final of the first FT book award, Richard Thaler explains how the discipline evolved in Misbehaving.

Meanwhile, George Akerlof and Robert Shiller turn their attention to economic trickery and the way free markets allow us to be manipulated and deceived in Phishing for Phools, coming next month. Also in the “debunking” category is management professor Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Leadership BS, due in September, about how to fix the misfiring leadership development industry.

Black Horse Ride, Ivan Fallon’s investigation of how Lloyds, the UK bank, became embroiled in the banking crisis, joins a long line of books spawned by the credit crunch.

Finally, for anyone looking for clues about next year’s prize, Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner lay out how to improve our ability to predict the future in their forthcoming book, Superforecasting.

The judges will select a shortlist of up to six books on September 22. The £30,000 prize will be awarded on November 17. To find out more about the judging panel, rules and past winners, please visit: www.ft.com/bookaward.

CoversBook TitlesAuthor/sPublisher
Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and DeceptionGeorge Akerlof and Robert ShillerPrinceton University Press
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics (UK)Richard ThalerAllen Lane/ Penguin Press
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics (US) Richard ThalerW.W. Norton
Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future (UK)Ashlee VanceVirgin Books
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (US) Ashlee VanceEcco
Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter PlanetGernot Wagner and Martin WeitzmanPrinceton University Press
How Music Got Free: What Happens When an Entire Generation Commits the Same Crime? (UK)

Stephen WittThe Bodley Head/ Penguin Random House
How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, The Turn of the Century, and The Patient Zero of Piracy (US)Stephen Witt Viking
Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family Anne-Marie SlaughterOneworld Publications/ Random House
Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian EconomyMihir SharmaVintage Books/ Random House India
The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment (UK)
Martin Ford Oneworld Publications
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (US)Martin FordBasic Books
Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and the Uses - and Misuses - of HistoryBarry EichengreenOxford University Press
The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the WorldSteve LeVineViking
Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackberryJacquie McNish and Sean SilcoffFlatiron/ Macmillan
Digital Gold: The Untold Story of Bitcoin (UK)
Nathaniel PopperAllen Lane/ Penguin Press
Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money (US)Nathaniel PopperHarper/ HarperCollins
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (US) Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner

Crown Publishers/ Penguin Random House

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (UK) Philip Tetlock and Dan GardnerRandom House Books
Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a TimeJeffrey PfefferHarperBusiness/ HarperCollins
Black Horse Ride: The Inside Story of Lloyds and the Banking CrisisIvan FallonThe Robson Press/ Biteback Publishing

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