Business Books to Watch in July
July 05, 2017
Ten books that the staff at 800-CEO-READ will be digging into in July.
In order of their publication date, these ten books are going to make our July much more informed and entertaining.
The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives by Jesse Eisinger, Simon & Schuster,
From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jesse Eisinger, a blistering account of corporate greed and impunity, and the reckless, often anemic response from the Department of Justice.
Why were no bankers put in prison after the financial crisis of 2008? Why do CEOs seem to commit wrongdoing with impunity? The problem goes beyond banks deemed “Too Big to Fail” to almost every large corporation in America—to pharmaceutical companies and auto manufacturers and beyond.
The Chickenshit Club—an inside reference to prosecutors too scared of failure and too daunted by legal impediments to do their jobs—explains why. A character-driven narrative, the book tells the story from inside the Department of Justice. The complex and richly reported story spans the last decade and a half of prosecutorial fiascos, corporate lobbying, trial losses, and culture shifts that have stripped the government of the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives.
The book begins in the 1970s, when the government pioneered the notion that top corporate executives, not just seedy crooks, could commit heinous crimes and go to prison. The book travels to trading desks on Wall Street, to corporate boardrooms and the offices of prosecutors and F.B.I agents. These revealing looks provide context for the evolution of the Justice Department’s approach to pursuing corporate criminals through the early aughts and into the Justice Department of today.
Exposing one of the most important scandals of our time, The Chickenshit Club provides a clear, detailed explanation as to how our Justice Department has come to avoid, bungle, and mismanage the fight to bring these alleged criminals to justice.
The wildly entertaining story of how the Wu-Tang Clan recorded a secret album and ended up selling it for millions of dollars to one of the most hated men in America.
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin tells the unbelievable tale of a one-of-a kind hip hop album that was released by the legendary hip-hop group The Wu-Tang Clan. In 2008, Wu-Tang's frontrunner, the RZA, and young Dutch music producer Cilvaringz met in Marrakech and dreamed up a crazy idea to create one single-copy of a high-profile album (encased in custom-made silver case, complete with a golf-leaf certificate of authenticity and leather-bound liner notes) never to be commercially released to the public, and to be sold through the New York auction house, Paddle 8. They began secretly recording the album and plotting how they could possibly create an album without any leaks whatsoever, during a digital age when the perceived value of music is 99-cents a song.
What ends up happening is a rollicking story of how a group of misfits banded together to create an album that would become an unprecedented experiment in music history, and how it ended up in the hands of one of the most hated men in America: Martin Shkreli.
Funny, fast-paced, and wildly entertaining, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin offers a peek behind the scenes into one of the most popular hip-hop groups in music history while also addressing head-on many big ideas about art and the dramatic devaluation of music in the eyes of the modern consumer.
The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace by Alexander Klimburg, Penguin Press
From a leading expert on cybersecurity, an eye-opening look at one of the most urgent but least understood conflicts the world will confront in the twenty-first century: the desire of nations to dominate cyberspace.
No single invention of the last half century has changed the way we live now as much as the Internet. Alexander Klimburg was a member of the generation for whom it was a utopian ideal turned reality: a place where ideas, information, and knowledge could be shared and new freedoms found and enjoyed. Two decades later, the future isn’t so bright any more: increasingly, the Internet is used as a weapon and a means of domination by states eager to exploit or curtail global connectivity in order to further their national interests.
Klimburg is a leading voice in the conversation on the implications of this dangerous shift, and in The Darkening Web, he explains why we underestimate the consequences of states’ ambitions to project power in cyberspace at our peril: Not only have hacking and cyber operations fundamentally changed the nature of political conflict—ensnaring states in a struggle to maintain a precarious peace that could rapidly collapse into all-out war—but the rise of covert influencing and information warfare has enabled these same global powers to create and disseminate their own distorted versions of reality in which anything is possible. At stake are not only our personal data or the electrical grid, but the Internet as we know it today—and with it the very existence of open and democratic societies.
Blending anecdote with argument, Klimburg brings us face-to-face with the range of threats the struggle for cyberspace presents, from an apocalyptic scenario of debilitated civilian infrastructure to a 1984-like erosion of privacy and freedom of expression. Focusing on different approaches to cyber-conflict in the US, Russia and China, he reveals the extent to which the battle for control of the Internet is as complex and perilous as the one surrounding nuclear weapons during the Cold War—and quite possibly as dangerous for humanity as a whole.
Authoritative, thought-provoking, and compellingly argued, The Darkening Web makes clear that the debate about the different aspirations for cyberspace is nothing short of a war over our global values.
Designed Leadership by Moura Quayle, Columbia University Press
Corporate leadership can be myopic in its unwillingness to fail. Education and experience can be limiting to executives—except for lessons learned from the world of design, which, when applied to management, can turn leaders into collaborative, creative, deliberate, and accountable visionaries. Design thinking loosens the mind and activates innovation. It creates the conditions for employees to thrive and for all kinds of businesses to succeed.
In Designed Leadership, the strategic-design scholar and urban-systems designer Moura Quayle shares her plan for integrating design and leadership, translating processes, principles, and practices from years of experience into tools of change for professional leaders. Quayle describes the key concepts of designed leadership, such as "make values explicit" and "learn from natural systems," showing how strategic design can spur individual creativity and harness collective energy. For managers at any level, Designed Leadership uses original visuals and examples of frontline leadership to teach the kind of thinking, theorizing, and practicing that results in long-lasting high performance in the workplace and beyond.
Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts by Ryan Holiday, Portfolio
Bestselling author and marketing strategist Ryan Holiday reveals to creatives of all stripes—authors, entrepreneurs, musicians, filmmakers, fine artists—how a classic work is made and marketed.
In Hollywood, a movie is given a single weekend to succeed before being written off. In Silicon Valley, a startup is a failure if it doesn’t go viral or rake in venture capital from the start. In publishing, a book that took years to write is given less than three months to sink or swim. These brutally shortsighted attitudes have choked the world with instructions for engineering a flash-in-the-pan and littered the media landscape with fads and flops.
Meanwhile, the greats, the stalwarts, the household names, are those who focus on a singularly different, possibly heretical, idea: that their work can and should last. For instance, Zildjian has been one of the premier makers of cymbals since its founding in 1623—and shows no signs of quitting. Iron Maiden has filled stadiums for forty years, moving some 85 million albums in their career. Robert Greene’s first book, The 48 Laws of Power, didn’t hit the bestseller lists until over a decade after it was first released, and since then has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide.
These works Ryan Holiday calls Perennial Sellers. They exist in every creative industry—timeless, dependable resources and unsung moneymakers, paying like blue chip annuities. Like gold or land, they increase in value over time, outlasting and outreaching any competition. And they’re not flukes or lucky breaks—they were built to last from the outset.
Holiday shows readers how to make and market their own classic work. Featuring interviews with some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, and grounded in a deep study of the classics in every genre, this creative book empowers readers with a foundational set of innovative principles. Whether you have a book or a business, a song or the next great screenplay, this book reveals the recipe for perennial success.
A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman, Simon & Schuster
The life and times of one of the foremost intellects of the twentieth century: Claude Shannon—the architect of the Information Age, whose insights stand behind every computer built, email sent, video streamed, and webpage loaded.
Claude Shannon was a groundbreaking polymath, a brilliant tinkerer, and a digital pioneer. He constructed a fleet of customized unicycles and a flamethrowing trumpet, outfoxed Vegas casinos, and built juggling robots. He also wrote the seminal text of the digital revolution, which has been called “the Magna Carta of the Information Age.” His discoveries would lead contemporaries to compare him to Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. His work anticipated by decades the world we’d be living in today—and gave mathematicians and engineers the tools to bring that world to pass.
In this elegantly written, exhaustively researched biography, Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman reveal Claude Shannon’s full story for the first time. It’s the story of a small-town Michigan boy whose career stretched from the era of room-sized computers powered by gears and string to the age of Apple. It’s the story of the origins of our digital world in the tunnels of MIT and the “idea factory” of Bell Labs, in the “scientists’ war” with Nazi Germany, and in the work of Shannon’s collaborators and rivals, thinkers like Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Vannevar Bush, and Norbert Wiener.
And it’s the story of Shannon’s life as an often reclusive, always playful genius. With access to Shannon’s family and friends, A Mind at Play brings this singular innovator and creative genius to life.
Why?: What Makes Us Curious by Mario Livio, Simon & Schuster
Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio investigates perhaps the most human of all our characteristics—curiosity—as he explores our innate desire to know why.
Experiments demonstrate that people are more distracted when they overhear a phone conversation—where they can know only one side of the dialogue—than when they overhear two people talking and know both sides. Why does half a conversation make us more curious than a whole conversation?
In the ever-fascinating Why? Mario Livio interviewed scientists in several fields to explore the nature of curiosity. He examined the lives of two of history’s most curious geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also talked to people with boundless curiosity: a superstar rock guitarist who is also an astrophysicist; an astronaut with degrees in computer science, biology, literature, and medicine. What drives these people to be curious about so many subjects?
Curiosity is at the heart of mystery and suspense novels. It is essential to other forms of art, from painting to sculpture to music. It is the principal driver of basic scientific research. Even so, there is still no definitive scientific consensus about why we humans are so curious, or about the mechanisms in our brain that are responsible for curiosity.
Mario Livio—an astrophysicist who has written about mathematics, biology, and now psychology and neuroscience—explores this irresistible subject in a lucid, entertaining way that will captivate anyone who is curious about curiosity.
Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise by William E Schneider, AMACOM
Because one size does not fit all.
From turf wars to low morale, most companies attempt to cure what ails them with the latest management fad—and fail. They are treating the symptoms while ignoring the true problem.
Success starts with knowing the kind of business you're really in. Lead Right for Your Company's Type argues that every enterprise falls into one of four categories as dictated by their customer promise: customized (e.g. ad agency), predictable and dependable (e.g utility company), benevolent (e.g. educational institution), and best in class (e.g. high-tech company like Apple). When leadership practices fit the customer promise and company type, the organization thrives. But apply the wrong practices and the mismatch pulls the enterprise apart. Example after example exposes the fallout:
- A small arts college destabilized by top-down rules designed for a predictable and dependable company
- A mid-tier retail chain derailed by leadership demands for superior products instead of reliably low prices
- A software giant brought to its knees by prioritizing profits over innovation
Insightful and practical, the book's proven tools and five-step process will help you diagnose your organization's ills—and stop them at their source.
The Path to Personal Power by Napoleon Hill, TarcherPerigee
This true lost manuscript from the “grandfather of self-help,” Napoleon Hill provides timeless wisdom on how to attain a more successful and wealthy life using simple principles.
Napoleon Hill first wrote The Path to Personal Power in 1941, intending it as a handbook for people lifting themselves out of the Great Depression. But upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into World War II, these lessons were put aside and largely forgotten—until today.
Discovered in the archives of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, this never-before-published work is made up of three easily digested lessons, each its own chapter: Definteness of Purpose; the Master Mind; and Going the Extra Mile.
This concise book is a powerful roadmap that leads to a single discovery—you already have the power to attain whatever wealth, success, and prosperity you desire in life. All you need to do is walk the path without straying, and the rest will follow.
Using these lessons, you have principles to live by that will help you stay on your own personal path to power, and achieve success that you never thought possible.
The Locomotive of War: Money, Empire, Power, and Guilt by Peter Clarke, Bloomsbury Press
An innovative exploration of the origins, impact, and consequences of the First and Second World Wars, from one of our foremost historians.
“War is the locomotive of history,” claimed Leon Trotsky, acknowledging the powerful opportunity the First World War offered the Bolsheviks in 1917. The sentiment proclaims war as the primary mover—more so than socioeconomic forces or individuals—of history.
Twentieth-century warfare saw new technologies and scales heighten the locomotive power of war to an unprecedented level, tragedy that saw the rise of some of the most influential figures of the day: David Lloyd George would never have become prime minister without wartime straits; Winston Churchill would likely not have been recalled to office were it not for the crisis of 1940; nor would John Maynard Keynes have seen his own economic ideas and authority so suddenly accepted. Other figures who benefited similarly include H. H. Asquith, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR.
By following the trajectories of such men, Peter Clarke illuminates the crucial issues of the period: not only the question of leadership as a projection of authority, but also military strategy, war finance, and the mobilization of the nation’s personnel and economic resources. The Locomotive of War is a fascinating examination of the interplay between key figures in the context of unprecedented all-out wars (both in 1914 and 1939) and the broader dynamics of history during an extraordinary period.