Business books of the year: Lies, deception, murder, greed and rugby keep pages turning

Business books of the year

Business books of the year: Lies, deception, murder, greed and rugby keep pages turning

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies In a Silicon Valley Startup

by John Carreyrou

Theranos is probably not a name that excites immediate recognition on this side of the Atlantic, but it remains one of the biggest corporate collapses for many years in the US. Founded in 2003 as a groundbreaking healthcare technology company by the then 19-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos raised over €650m from investors that led to an eventual €9bn valuation at its peak in 2013. Ms Holmes was labelled “the female Steve Jobs” — a comparison the Stanford University dropout happily acknowledged as she pushed her groundbreaking innovation that promised to shake up the medical industry with a revolutionary machine capable of making blood testing faster and easier. Investors included Oracle’s Larry Ellison and venture capitalist Tim Draper. There was just one problem — the technology did not work. The book drills deeply behind the Theranos profile to examine why so many otherwise financially savvy big hitters fell for such a sham.

Capitalism in America

by Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge

One of the legendary figures of American economics, Alan Greenspan has been lauded for decades as an individual with a vast knowledge of the US economy. Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, he took what was traditionally a relatively invisible role and made it into one close to rock star status in financial circles. Indeed, many observers credit his easy money policies during that period as having laid the groundwork for the recent recession. Mr Greenspan has made the US economy his life’s calling, and here examines how it works — its growth and contractions, its surges and stalls. He delves particularly into the spirit of entrepreneurship, and how it has become such an ingrained aspect of the American psyche. Working with economist, journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge, he fills the 450 pages with tales of robber barons, gilded dynasties, corporate empires and how the US rose to become the world’s primary capitalist society — and why China will now challenge for that title.

Moneyland: Why Thieves And Crooks Now Rule The World And How To Take It Back

by Oliver Bullough

From forgotten towns in the depths of Siberia to the sky-high penthouses of Knightsbridge and Manhattan, something very basic has gone wrong with the workings of the financial world, observes investigative journalist Oliver Bullough. Once, if someone in authority stole money, there were few options to hide such illicit loot other than spending it or hoarding it under the floorboards. Enter the world’s bankers and their creation of a hidden shadow-world for the lawless super-rich. Outlining how banking institutions of the west and the US have become money-laundering operations, undermining the foundations of global stability, this book exposes just how willing supposedly respectable institutions are to guard and hide the often blood-soaked billions of despots, dictators and criminal organisations.

Billion Dollar Whale

by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

A decade ago, with the Great Recession still gathering momentum across the world, a mild-mannered Wharton University graduate set in motion a fraud of such unparalleled dimension, investigators would, years later, compare it to the scale of Bernie Madoff. Baby-faced Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low as he preferred, managed to secrete van Gogh and Monet paintings in Switzerland, an Oscar that once belonged to Marlon Brando in a Texas warehouse, a $250m yacht in Bali, a $35m Bombardier private jet in the south of France, and many millions of dollars still unaccounted for and beyond reach in offshore banks around the globe. Managing to convince the Malaysian government to set up the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, in 2009, it would invest in green energy and tourism, creating high-quality jobs for thousands of Malaysians. Three bond deals for the fund in 2012 and 2013 raised $6.5bn, of which prosecutors say more than $2.7bn was misappropriated.

The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan

by John Man

While it has been in print for a number of years, this cleverly titled book achieves the unexpected feat of equating the legend of the blood-thirsty Mongol emperor with Winston Churchill, the hero who stopped Hitler.

John Man, a historian and travel writer, makes the case that both leaders emerged at pivotal points of history, and shared the ability to empathise with their peoples’ suffering to the extent that they were hero-worshipped by the masses.

The Mongol emperor’s leadership traits incorporated extreme loyalty, a dedication to new inventions and innovations and a constant ambition to reach for new horizons; not that dissimilar to those commercial aspirations that today drive corporations like Wal-Mart, Apple, General Motors and Shell.

Damaged Goods

by Oliver Shah

Once hailed as Britain’s top businessman, Philip Green’s life reads like a London version of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ - complete with glamorous parties, multi-million pound yachts, palatial homes around the world, and regular mentions in society columns, usually with a supermodel on his arm. As chairman of Arcadia Group - home to brands like Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge - Mr Green had the ear of prime ministers and central bankers in his position as a guiding light of British commerce. Then came the demise of the British Home Stores - or BHS - group, and the curtains opened upon an empire where the reality never matched the illusion.

The Jersey: The Secrets Behind the World’s Most Successful Team

by Peter Bills

After Ireland’s historic win over the All Blacks in November, this will surely be one of the more popular sporting-business crossover books of the year. Mr Bills, who has reported on international rugby for more than 40 years, was given exclusive access to many key figures in New Zealand rugby as he set out to understand the secrets behind the All Blacks success. From the present day coach Steve Hansen and players Beauden Barrett, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw back to the legendary Colin Meads, he talked at length with over 90 people with intimate knowledge of what makes the All Blacks tick. With a better winning record than any other sports team in history, the All Blacks stand head and shoulders above their nearest rugby rivals, and go into the 2019 World Cup as back-to-back World Champions. How did a country of just 4.8m people conquer the rugby world — and could they get even better?

More in this section

IE logo


The Business Hub

News and analysis on business, money and jobs from Munster and beyond by our expert team of business writers.

Sign up
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up

Some of the best bits from direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up