Book club: Business Book of the Year

Hannah Langworth takes a look at the shortlist for the Financial Times' annual prize

The Alchemists: Inside the Secret World of Central Bankers

by Neil Irwin

Business Plus, 2013

In a sentence

The story of central banking and an explanation of the part it played in tackling the financial crisis.

What the judges said about it

"Saying something that's not been said" before about central banking during the financial crisis - investment banker and former UK government minister Shriti Vadera.

Why you should read it

Central banking has changed hugely since the pre-financial crisis era, and is now more prominent across the world than ever. Read this book to understand the history and current workings of this crucial cog in the world's economy.

The FT's final verdict

Shortlisted.

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier

John Murray, 2013

In a sentence

An explanation of big data: what is it, why it's so important, and the possible dangers of its use.

What the judges said about it

Sets out the issue of how digital information will revolutionise business and society "better than I've ever heard expressed" - Vindi Banga, partner with private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

Why you should read it

Whatever field you're interested in entering, you can't avoid big data - read this book to understand why it matters so much to businesses.

The FT's final verdict

Shortlisted.

The Billionaire's Apprentice: The Rise of The Indian-American Elite and the Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund

by Anita Raghavan

Business Plus, 2013

In a sentence

An examination of the Indian-American community in the US financial world and the fall of a prominent hedge fund led by a South Asia-born billionaire

What the judges said about it

A "piece of original journalism"‰."‰."‰."‰with real drive" - Steve Coll, author of Private Empire and last year's winner.

Why you should read it

This book tells two fascinating and very topical stories, one about the machinations of some of the world's most prominent corporate organisations, and a more positive one about the coming of age of Indian Americans in the US business world.

The FT's final verdict

Shortlisted.

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone

Little, Brown, 2013

In a sentence

A history of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, and a fly-on-the-wall account of how the company works today.

What the judges said about it

A "fascinating story" - Jorma Ollila, chairman of Royal Dutch Shell.

Why you should read it

Love it or hate it, Amazon has changed the internet, the business world and the world itself and this book explains why and how. You might also find yourself inspired - or repelled - by Bezos's relentless ambition from his student days onwards.

The FT's final verdict

WINNER.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

by Sheryl Sandberg

Random House Group, 2013

In a sentence

A manifesto for women who want to be leaders in the corporate world from Facebook's chief operating officer.

What the judges said about it

A "phenomenon" - a comment from an unidentified judge.

Why you should read it

Lean In is far more than just an interesting book - it's the new default starting point for debates about women and work today, a global networking movement, a catchphrase, and, some are whispering, the start of Sandberg's campaign to be the first female US president.

The FT's final verdict

Shortlisted.

Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy

by Iain Martin

Simon and Schuster, 2013

In a sentence

A history of Scottish banking group RBS, from its origins in the eighteenth century to its 2008 bailout and the demise of "Fred the Shred".

What the judges said about it

A "fascinating study of management" - Lynda Gratton, a professor at London Business School.

Why you should read it

The case of former RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin, onetime knight and now dubbed the "World's Worst Banker", is one of the best business and finance "what-not-to-do"s out there.

The FT's final verdict

Shortlisted.

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