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.
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.
From Hacking To Fracking, This Year’s Cracking Business Books’ Titles by Financial Times
Cracking Business Books’ Titles: Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality–the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth–today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.
Cracking Business Books’ Titles: China’s Second Continent
An exciting, hugely revealing account of China’s burgeoning presence in Africa—a developing empire already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people.
A prizewinning foreign correspondent and former New York Times bureau chief in Shanghai and in West and Central Africa, Howard French is uniquely positioned to tell the story of China in Africa. Through meticulous on-the-ground reporting—conducted in Mandarin, French, and Portuguese, among other languages—French crafts a layered investigation of astonishing depth and breadth as he engages not only with policy-shaping moguls and diplomats, but also with the ordinary men and women navigating the street-level realities of cooperation, prejudice, corruption, and opportunity forged by this seismic geopolitical development. With incisiveness and empathy, French reveals the human face of China’s economic, political, and human presence across the African continent—and in doing so reveals what is at stake for everyone involved.
Cracking Business Books’ Titles: Creativity, Inc
Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”
For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.
Cracking Business Books’ Titles: Dragnet Nation
We see online ads from websites we’ve visited, long after we’ve moved on to other interests. Our smartphones and cars transmit our location, enabling us to know what’s in the neighborhood but also enabling others to track us. And the federal government, we recently learned, has been conducting a massive data-gathering surveillance operation across the Internet and on our phone lines.
In Dragnet Nation, award-winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin reports from the front lines of America’s surveillance economy, offering a revelatory and unsettling look at how the government, private companies, and even criminals use technology to indiscriminately sweep up vast amounts of our personal data. In a world where we can be watched in our own homes, where we can no longer keep secrets, and where we can be impersonated, financially manipulated, or even placed in a police lineup, Angwin argues that the greatest long-term danger is that we start to internalize the surveillance and censor our words and thoughts, until we lose the very freedom that makes us unique individuals. Appalled at such a prospect, Angwin conducts a series of experiments to try to protect herself, ranging from quitting Google to carrying a “burner” phone, showing how difficult it is for an average citizen to resist the dragnets’ reach.
Cracking Business Books’ Titles: Flash Boys
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (US title), Flash Boys: Cracking the Money Code (UK title) by Michael Lewis
Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out