New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018
One of President Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2018
A New York Times Notable Book
A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country’s history.
In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can’t understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still.
The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison’s sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone.
A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America.₵130.00
“This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies.” So write Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in this groundbreaking book that shatters myths, provides new insights, and gives practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time.
Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies — they have an average age of nearly one hundred years and have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen since 1926 — and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?”
What separates General Electric, 3M, Merck, Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, and Philip Morris from their rivals? How, for example, did Procter & Gamble, which began life substantially behind rival Colgate, eventually prevail as the premier institution in its industry? How was Motorola able to move from a humble battery repair business into integrated circuits and cellular communications, while Zenith never became dominant in anything other than TVs? How did Boeing unseat McDonnell Douglas as the world’s best commercial aircraft company — what did Boeing have that McDonnell Douglas lacked?
By answering such questions, Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and fads of the day to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished out-standing companies. They also provide inspiration to all executives and entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies.
Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the twenty-first century and beyond.₵60.00
Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds and gold, setting off a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land. The result was the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and the devastation of the Boer republics.
The New Yorker calls this magisterial account of those years “[an] astute history…Meredith expertly shows how the exigencies of the diamond (and then gold) rush laid the foundation for apartheid.”₵85.00
Financial Intelligence: How to Make Smart, Values-Based Decisions with Your Money and Your Life (Hardcover)
Can you envision a healthy financial life but have old, hard to break habits that prevent it from taking root? You are not alone. It turns out our brains are hard-wired to make poor financial and life decisions. Financial Intelligence helps you break the cycle of habitual and emotional decision-making that hard-wiring automatically sparks when faced with emotionally charged events. Beginning with your principles, values, and beliefs, Financial Intelligence offers a concrete guide to help you achieve better results. Doug Lennick provides a simple and clear four-step method, known as the 4Rs, for making wise financial and life decisions based on your core values. When you find yourself in a highly charged event, such as the Dow Jones plummeting, rash decisions often follow like selling out your entire stock portfolio at record lows! Recognizing your automatic mental and physical responses is half the battle toward taking control of the situation. After reflecting on your values and your circumstances (while accounting for your inherent biases), you can reframe a more realistic interpretation of what is happening and what lies ahead. This allows you to respond to a critical situation with an understanding of it and foresight about which current actions will best serve your future goals. Accepting the certainty of uncertainty means you must prepare for the ups and downs of life so when you are thrown a curve ball you are confident you have the foundation in place to act wisely. Financial Intelligence gives you the tools to build this foundation to be able to step back from a tense situation, return to your core values, and transition to an emotional state where decisions are based on thoughtful analysis of what will bring you the greatest long-term success and fulfillment in life.₵120.00
‘An excellent book.’ Martin Wolf, Financial Times Books of the Year
The full-time job is disappearing. Today more workers than ever are going freelance – driving for Uber or cycling for Deliveroo, developing software or consulting for investment banks. Welcome to the gig economy.
In Gigged, Sarah Kessler meets the people forging this new world of unorthodox employment: from the computer programmer who chooses exactly which hours he works each week, via the Uber driver who is trying to convince his peers to unionise, to the charity worker who thinks freelance gigs might just transform the fortunes of a declining rural town.
Their stories raise crucial questions about the future of work. What happens when job security, holidays and benefits become a thing of the past? How can freelancers find meaningful, well-paid employment? And could the gig economy really change the world of work for ever?
Longlisted for the FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award₵70.00
To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others.
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.
But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t.
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
- Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
- The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
- A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
- The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.
“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, “fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”
Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?₵60.00
Harvard Business Review on Inspiring & Executing Innovation (Harvard Business Review Paperback Series)
Fresh ideas can mean big profits–but only if they make it to market and sell.
If you need the best practices and ideas for creating and delivering new products and services–but don’t have time to find them–this book is for you. Here are 10 inspiring and useful perspectives, all in one place.
This collection of HBR articles will help you:
– Decide which ideas are worth pursuing
– Adapt offerings from the developing world to wealthy markets
– Plan all-new ventures by testing and tweaking
– Tailor your efforts to meet customers’ most pressing needs
– Make inexpensive products on a vast scale
– Measure and improve innovation performance
– Avoid classic pitfalls such as stifling innovation with rigid processes₵80.00
Stop pushing products—and start cultivating relationships with the right customers.
If you read nothing else on marketing that delivers competitive advantage, read these 10 articles. We’ve combed through hundreds of articles in the Harvard Business Review archive and selected the most important ones to help you reinvent your marketing by putting it—and your customers—at the center of your business.
Leading experts such as Ted Levitt and Clayton Christensen provide the insights and advice you need to:
• Figure out what business you’re really in
• Create products that perform the jobs people need to get done
• Get a bird’s-eye view of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses
• Tap a market that’s larger than China and India combined
• Deliver superior value to your B2B customers
• End the war between sales and marketing₵80.00