Best Books of 2021: Business


The conversation: How Honestly Talking About Racism Can Transform Individuals and Organizations
by Robert Livingston, Business Penguin £ 14.99 / currency $ 28

Starting with the uncomfortable and inevitable conversations necessary to effect change in society and the workplace, Harvard psychologist Livingston presents a clear plan to eliminate prejudice and racism. This unwavering guide is one of this year’s FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award finalists.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
by Patrick Radden Keefe, Picador £ 20 / double day $ 32.50

Shortlisted for Business Book of the Year, this is a comprehensive and devastating account of how Purdue Pharma, a company owned by Mortimer and Raymond Sackler and some parents, marketed the addictive pain reliever OxyContin, while the Sackler family has invested money in philanthropic efforts around the world. .

The world for sale: Money, power and traders who trade the Earth’s resources
by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy, Random House Business £ 20 / Oxford University Press $ 29.95

An entertaining story of the rise of international trading houses and the charismatic and free risk-takers who ran them. It tells of how they took advantage of the commodity boom and gained wealth and political power through unprecedented geopolitical changes as empires crumbled and wars raged. Another finalist for Business Book of the Year.

The aristocracy of talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World
by Adrian Wooldridge, Allen Lane £ 25 / Skyhorse $ 24.99

In this elegant historical and philosophical defense of the notion that people should progress based on talent rather than birth, Wooldridge argues that the idea that ruled the world in the late 20th century has become corrupted. This “golden ticket to prosperity” needs to be restored to relaunch social mobility. Selected for Business Book of the Year.

This is how they tell me the end of the world: The cyber-weapons arms race
by Nicole Perlroth, Bloomsbury £ 14.99 / $ 30

Perlroth is investigating the growing threat posed by the arms race between cybercriminals, spies and hackers as they fight to infiltrate critical computer systems. Shortlisted for Business Book of the Year, it is a rapid exploration of the dark side of the Internet where the seeds of a potential global catastrophe are sown.

Books of the year 2021

All week FT writers and critics are sharing their favorites. Some highlights are:

On Monday: Undertaken by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thusday: Laura Battle Fiction
Friday: Story by Tony Barber
Saturday: Critics’ Choice

Disentangled: The life and death of a garment
by Maxine Bédat, Wallet £ 22.99 / $ 27

An acute angle on the hot topics of globalization and sustainable development, seen through the “biography” of a pair of jeans. Bédat illustrates the environmental, economic and social pressures that are building up in the global fashion and clothing industry and reveals the invisible consequences of our thoughtless purchasing choices.

The problem with passion: How the quest for fulfillment at work promotes inequality
by Erin Cech, University of California Press £ 24 / $ 29.95

A stimulating look at the dangers of pursuing passion at work. Sociologist Cech finds that “following your dream” is a luxury that many less fortunate people simply cannot afford. The assumption that careers must offer opportunities for expression and fulfillment can lead to exploitation and, even more serious, to a widening of inequalities.

Framers: Human advantage in the age of technology and upheaval
by Kenneth Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Francis de Véricourt, WH Allen £ 20 / Dutton $ 28

A prescription for intelligent thinking, based on our unique ability to formulate or reframe problems and find better solutions. There is an alternative to algorithms or instinct when it comes to decision-making, the authors argue, in restoring pluralism and progressive human values, rather than leaving the choice in the hands of the machine or the crowd.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites from this list – and which books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

One shot to save the world: The remarkable breed and revolutionary science behind Covid-19 vaccines
by Grégory Zuckerman, Business Penguin £ 20 / Wallet $ 30

A breathtaking account of the business and scientific rivalries between researchers and companies behind the bestselling coronavirus vaccines. Zuckerman shows how a global catastrophe transformed the fortunes of visionary small businesses and huge pharmaceutical companies, as they rushed to stem the spread of the pandemic.

The worship of us: WeWork and the great illusion of startups
by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, Mudlark £ 20 / Crown $ 28

An investigation into the extraordinary rise and dizzying fall of Adam Neumann, co-founder of the coworking company WeWork. The two reporters unearth new frowning details in this saga of ambition and excess, which should be careful read for any aspiring entrepreneur to hit the big time.

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