In Focus

Ten best business books of 2021

Essential reading about companies, management and the economy

1

John Preston

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston

This “superb, pacey account” charts the late Robert Maxwell’s “ascent from shtetl boyhood” to self-made publishing billionaire and “eventual cartoon madman”, says The Daily Telegraph. Truly “jaw-dropping”.

2

Patrick Radden Keefe

Empire of Pain

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

A gripping and “meticulously researched” account of how Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, marketed the addictive painkiller OxyContin – fuelling the US opioid crisis, says The Times. “Read it and rage.”

3

Gregory Zuckerman

A Shot to Save the World

A Shot to Save the World by Gregory Zuckerman

An “appropriately breathless” account of the race to find a Covid vaccine, says Andrew Hill in the FT. Zuckerman shows how “catastrophe” transformed the fortunes of “tiny, visionary ventures”.

4

Jeffrey E. Garten

Three Days at Camp David

Three Days at Camp David by Jeffrey E. Garten

In this “outstanding book”, says Martin Wolf in the FT, Garten describes the secret 1971 meeting at which President Nixon decided to sever the link between the dollar and gold – beginning “a new monetary order”.

5

Clive Lewis 

Toxic

Toxic by Clive Lewis 

A business psychologist’s guide on how to deal with “toxic” colleagues, says The Times: the unkind, the hostile, the “downright abusive”. “Required reading for company bosses.”

6

Eswar S. Prasad 

The Future of Money

The Future of Money by Eswar S. Prasad 

“An invaluable overview” of how digital technologies are transforming currencies and finance, says Martin Wolf in the FT. As Prasad summarises: “A glorious future beckons, perhaps.”

7

Jeanette Winterson 

12 Bytes

12 Bytes by Jeanette Winterson 

The novelist’s “anarchically playful” essays cover the history of computing, AI and the cloud, says The Daily Telegraph. She imagines a future in which “sexbots are hacked by feminist programmers”.

8

George Maher

Pugnare: Economic Success and Failure

Pugnare by George Maher

The rise and fall of the Roman Empire – from a financial perspective. When inflation kicked in, stability collapsed, says Merryn Somerset Webb in the FT. “The banking system appears to have completely failed in AD260. And that was that.”

9

Adrian Wooldridge

The Aristocracy of Talent

The Aristocracy of Talent by Adrian Wooldridge

This “sparkling” if disturbing study shows how much less meritocratic our society has become since the late 20th century, says The Daily Telegraph. An elegant defence of talent.

10

Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell

The Cult of We

The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell

This “modern tale of the emperor’s new clothes” charts how Adam Neumann convinced everyone “that his property start-up was worth $47bn”, says The Times. “Drugs, tequila, private jets and a worrying messiah complex.”

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