From ‘Lean In’ to ‘Hatching Twitter’: The Best Business Books of 2013
In business books this year, tech companies stole the show: From Fred Vogelstein’s account of Apple and Google’s battle for world domination, “Dogfight” to Nick Bilton’s no-holds-barred “Hatching Twitter,” this year’s best business reads were chock full of juicy revelations about what it’s like behind the scenes at the tech corporations and social media startups that’ve transformed our relationships with gadgets, media and the web. In addition to the top tech tell-alls, our list of 2013’s best business books features an advice manual from an astronaut, an inside view into the relationship between the leaders of three central banks during the global recession and much more. Learn something new about the people behind the world’s most high-profile businesses by picking up these great reads.
By the far the buzziest business book of 2013, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s workplace manifesto for women “Lean In” reignited spirited dialogues around feminism, work/life balance and women in leadership. Will we ladies heed Sandberg’s controversial call to “lean in” more fully at the office rather than recede during our childbearing years—a critical period, Sandberg argues, in a woman’s career? The conversation continues.
How did Amazon go from online bookseller to, as Brad Stone’s book title aptly puts it, an Internet marketplace that sells it all? That’s the crux of the Bloomberg Businessweek writer’s “The Everything Store,” a biography of Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos and his retail-redefining business (drone-operated mail carriers, anyone?). Though Stone wrote the book with Bezos’s blessing, Bezos’s wife wasn’t pleased with the result: In a scathing one-star review she called the book “a lopsided and misleading portrait” rife with “factual errors.” Inadvertent free publicity? Yes. All the more reason to read it? Absolutely.
Before the $1.8 billion IPO, Twitter was just your average Silicon Valley startup: The brainchild of a few 20-somethings with a dream. We all know how Twitter turned out, but on the way to becoming one of the world’s foremost social media companies, personalities clashed and—surprise, surprise--a struggle for power ensued. Cue the sinfully delicious schadenfreude: In “Hatching Twitter,” New York Times tech writer Nick Bilton gives readers all the dirty details about the building of the social media juggernaut and the up-and-down relationships of the four guys who founded it.
How will technology have morphed and transmutated 50 years from now? In their provocative book “The New Digital Age,” former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, head of the in-house Google think tank Google Ideas, whipped out their crystal ball to imagine the many ways in which technology’s role in our lives and relationships will expand and change in the decades to come. It’s a brain-buster of a book that’ll get you thinking about technologies past, present and future.
We use their indispensible, game-changing products and services indiscriminately, more often than not without thinking about the companies behind them and those companies’ relationships to one another. In other words, most consumers probably aren’t aware of it, but there’s a fierce battle underway between Google and Apple for our attention, our dollars and for control of the future of mobile computing. In “Dogfight,” Fred Vogelstein gives readers a blow-by-blow account of the sparring companies’ struggle for dominance.
What business lessons are there to learn from a guy who orbits Earth for a living? A lot if it’s Col. Chris Hadfield, author of the charming memoir-slash-advice manual, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.” With his penchant for tweeting and posting YouTube videos from space, Hadfield has become a bona fide Internet celebrity. Here, he shares wisdom that anyone can apply at work or at home, from recommendations on how to prepare for failure to guidance about how to become the best team player you can be.
In “The Alchemists,” Neil Irwin traces the actions of the leaders of three of the world’s most important central banks—the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and America’s Federal Reserve—at the height of the global recession. As housing markets from California to Ireland tanked and the world’s economies spiraled, the political power and influence of those tasked with halting the crisis—England’s Mervyn King, the ECB’s Jean-Claude Trichet and the Fed’s Ben Bernanke—expanded enormously. Irwin offers a revealing look at their maneuverings.
Insider trading undid the careers of former McKinsey & Company CEO Rajat Gupta and Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam. In “The Billionaire’s Apprentice,” former Wall Street Journal reporter Anita Raghavan writes in granular detail of how they ascended in the business world and dramatically fell from grace. It’s a true-life financial thriller that tackles, among other themes, the “rise of the Indian-American elite,” as Raghavan writes, not to mention good old-fashioned capitalist greed.
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