The 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards: Current Events & Public Affairs
December 05, 2016
This week, we are giving away what we believe are five of the most important and timely current events and public affairs books published in 2016.
We are dedicating the book giveaways for the rest of 2016 to giving away all 40 books on the 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards Longlist—one category at a time. This week, we have the books in the Current Events & Public Affairs category.
(Editor's Note: the copy below is promotional copy from the books' publishers. If you would like to hear from the judges at 800-CEO-READ as to why these books in particular were chosen, check back in to the News & Opinion channel later this week to go "inside the longlist," or subscribe to the Keen Thinker to get our weekly roundup of content.)
Each of this week's winners will receive all five finalists for the Personal Development & Human Behavior category, and we have five sets available. The books you'll receive are:
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, Crown
An extraordinary work of scholarship and reportage by a rising star at Harvard that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.
We think we know what causes poverty—everything from joblessness and lack of education to violence and incarceration. But in this groundbreaking book, Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond reveals another powerful force, one that has largely been ignored by scholars, journalists, and society as a whole: eviction.
Each year, millions of people—many of them single mothers—are forced from their homes, a financial setback that often leads to more evictions, and a feedback loop from which it is nearly impossible to escape. Indeed, what incarceration is to men, eviction is to women: a common yet consequential event that pushes families deeper below the poverty line, and then keeps them there. As Desmond shows, most poor people are spending almost all of their income just to put a roof over their heads, a result of skyrocketing rents, plummeting wages, inadequate federal assistance, and laws that create perverse incentives. Predatory landlords profit handsomely from this private rental market, and they are merciless, kicking tenants out for complaining about squalid conditions or for calling 911 too often to report domestic abuse. The effect on America’s cities—and the people who inhabit them—is devastating.
In vivid, novelistic prose, Desmond takes us deep into the white trailer parks and black ghettoes of Milwaukee, using the moment of eviction as a window into extreme poverty, economic exploitation, and human resilience. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, Evicted provides intimate, memorable, often wrenching portraits of life at the bottom. We meet Tobin Charney, the landlord of Green Street Mobile Home Park, who takes home $520,000 a year from the worst trailer park in the fourth poorest city in the country; Arleen, a single mother trying to raise her two boys on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their decrepit apartment; Scott, a former nurse and heroin addict; Lamar, a paraplegic former veteran; and many others. With the narrative power of Random Family or Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and the deep scholarship that underpins books like When Work Disappears or The New Jim Crow, this remarkable book shows, for the first time, that eviction is a cause, not just a condition of poverty.
Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash, Yale University Press
One of the great political writers of our time offers a manifesto for global free speech in the digital age.
Never in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression. If we have internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. Never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. A pastor burns a Koran in Florida and UN officials die in Afghanistan.
Drawing on a lifetime of writing about dictatorships and dissidents, Timothy Garton Ash argues that in this connected world that he calls cosmopolis, the way to combine freedom and diversity is to have more but also better free speech. Across all cultural divides we must strive to agree on how we disagree. He draws on a thirteen-language global online project—freespeechdebate.com—conducted out of Oxford University and devoted to doing just that. With vivid examples, from his personal experience of China's Orwellian censorship apparatus to the controversy around Charlie Hebdo to a very English court case involving food writer Nigella Lawson, he proposes a framework for civilized conflict in a world where we are all becoming neighbors.
Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business by Rana Foroohar, Crown Business
Award-winning business journalist Rana Foroohar shows how the shortsighted and misguided financial practices and mentality that nearly toppled the global economy in 2008 have come to infiltrate all corners of American business and how this “financialization of America” is putting us on a dangerous collision course to another catastrophic economic meltdown.
Drawing on in-depth reporting and exclusive interviews at the highest rungs of Wall Street and Washington, Foroohar shows how this phenomenon of our best and brightest companies behaving like glorfied banks is solidifying Wall Street’s reign over Main Street, widening the gap between rich and poor, hampering economic progress, and threatening the future of the American Dream. Exploring the forces that have led American businesses to favor banking over innovating, balancing-sheet engineering over the actual kind, and the pursuit of short-term corporate profits over job creation, she shows how the infiltration of financialized thinking is so gravely harming our economy and society and why these issues matter so deeply and urgently to us all.
Through colorful stories of both “Takers”—the financiers destroying jobs, increasing economic inequality, and stiflng job creation—and also of “Makers”—the companies and communities where finance has been put back into the service of the real economy—she’ll reveal how we can reverse these trends for a better path forward.
Shadow Courts: The Tribunals That Rule Global Trade by Haley Sweetland Edwards, Columbia Global Reports
A behind-the-scenes look at the powerful courts that decide when international trade is legal or not. Does their rise mark a huge boon for corporations to challenge the power of sovereign nation-states?
International trade deals have become vastly complex documents, seeking to govern everything from labor rights to environmental protections. This evolution has drawn alarm from American voters, but their suspicions are often vague.
In this book, investigative journalist Haley Sweetland Edwards offers a detailed look at one little-known but powerful provision in most modern trade agreements that is designed to protect the financial interests of global corporations against the governments of sovereign states. She makes a devastating case that Investor-State Dispute Settlement -- a "shadow court" that allows corporations to sue a nation outside its own court system -- has tilted the balance of power on the global stage. A corporation can use ISDS to challenge a nation's policies and regulations, if it believes those laws are unfair or diminish its future profits. From the 1960s to 2000, corporations brought fewer than 40 disputes, but in the last fifteen years, they have brought nearly 650 -- 54 against Argentina alone.
Edwards conducted extensive research and interviewed dozens of policymakers, activists, and government officials in Argentina, Canada, Bolivia, Ecuador, the European Union, and in the Obama administration. The result is a major story about a significant shift in the global balance of power.
Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics by Katrine Marcal, Pegasus Books
A funny, clever, and thought-provoking examination of the myth of the "economic man" and its impact on the global economy.
How do you get your dinner? That is the basic question of economics. When economist and philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest, he used the example of the baker and the butcher as he laid the foundations for 'economic man.' He argued that the baker and butcher didn't give bread and meat out of the goodness of their hearts. It's an ironic point of view coming from a bachelor who lived with his mother for most of his life — a woman who cooked his dinner every night.
Nevertheless, the economic man has dominated our understanding of modern-day capitalism, with a focus on self-interest and the exclusion of all other motivations. Such a view point disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking. It insists that if women are paid less, then that's because their labor is worth less. Economics has told us a story about how the world works and we have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. This story has not served women well. Now it's time to change it.
A kind of femininst Freakonomics, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? charts the myth of economic man — from its origins at Adam Smith's dinner table, its adaptation by the Chicago School, and its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis — in a witty and courageous dismantling of one of the biggest myths of our time.