Shortlist Announced for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012

14 September 2012: LONDON and NEW YORK: The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs today announce the shortlist for the eighth annual Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, now an essential calendar fixture for business people and authors alike. The award aims to identify the book providing the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.

This year's distinguished judges have chosen the six most influential business books in 2012:

The judging panel, chaired by FT editor Lionel Barber, comprises:

  • Vindi Banga, Partner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
  • Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum
  • Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Jorma Ollila, Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell
  • Shriti Vadera, Director of Shriti Vadera Ltd, Non-Executive Director of BHP Billiton  and AstraZeneca

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, said: “The quality of submissions this year was outstanding, and we therefore have a very powerful shortlist. It has a strong emphasis on leadership and broader institutional and political issues, reflecting the mood of the world today.”

The winner will be announced at the award dinner on 1st November, co-hosted by Lionel Barber and Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York.

The winner of the Business Book of the Year Award 2012 will be awarded £30,000, and each of the remaining shortlisted authors will receive £10,000.

Previous winners of the award are: Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo for Poor Economics (2011); Raghuram Rajan for Fault Lines (2010); Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance (2009); Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide (2008); William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons (2007); James Kynge for China Shakes the World (2006); and Thomas Friedman, as the inaugural Award winner in 2005, for The World is Flat.


Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty
Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (Crown Business, Profile Books)

Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine? Is it culture, the weather or geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it).

Based on fifteen years of original research, Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today. Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at – and understand – the world.

DARON ACEMOGLU is the Killian Professor of Economics at MIT. In 2005 he received the John Bates Clark Medal awarded to economists under forty judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.

JAMES A. ROBINSON, a political scientist and an economist, is the David Florence Professor of Government at Harvard University. A world-renowned expert on Latin America and Africa, he has worked in Botswana, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, and South Africa.

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust
John Coates (The Penguin Press, Fourth Estate)

The laws of financial boom and bust, it turns out, have more than a little to do with male hormones. In a series of groundbreaking experiments, successful Wall Street trader turned Cambridge neuroscientist Dr. John Coates identified a feedback loop between testosterone and success that dramatically lowers the fear of risk in men, especially younger men. Significantly, the fear of risk is not reduced in women. Similarly, intense failure leads to a rise in levels of cortisol, the antitestosterone hormone that lowers the appetite for risk across an entire spectrum of decisions.

Coates had set out to prove what was already a strong intuition from his previous life running a derivatives desk in New York. ‘The hour between dog and wolf’ was the moment traders transformed – they would become revved up, exuberant risk takers when flying high, or tentative, risk-averse creatures when cowering from their losses. Coates understood instinctively that these dispositions were driven by body chemistry – and then he proved it.

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf expands on Coates's own research to offer lessons from the entire exploding new field – the biology of risk. Though Coates's research concentrates on traders, his conclusions shed light on all types of high pressure decision making – from the sports field to the battlefield. The Hour Between Dog and Wolf leaves us with a powerful recognition; to handle risk in a ‘highly evolved’ way isn't a matter of mind over body, it's a matter of mind and body working together. We all have it in us to be transformed from dog into wolf; the only question is whether we can understand the causes and the consequences.

JOHN COATES is a senior research fellow in neuroscience and finance at the University of Cambridge. He previously worked on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs and ran a trading desk for Deutsche Bank. In 2004 he returned to Cambridge to research the biology of financial risk-taking. His work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Financial Times and been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New Scientist, Wired and Time.

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
Steve Coll (Penguin Press HC, Allen Lane)

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States, the notoriously secretive ExxonMobil Corporation, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil's annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in the great majority of countries, equivalent to the GDP of Norway. In many of the countries where it conducts business, ExxonMobil's sway over politics and security is greater than that of the United States embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying Congress and the White House than any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.

Private Empire’s narrative spans the globe, beginning with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and closing with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil, Private Empire is the masterful result of Steve Coll's indefatigable reporting. He draws here on more than four hundred interviews; field reporting from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; more than one thousand pages of previously classified U.S. documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; heretofore unexamined court records; and many other sources. A penetrating, newsbreaking study, Private Empire will be the definitive portrait of ExxonMobil.

STEVE COLL is most recently the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens. He is the president of the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C., and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Previously he worked for twenty years at the Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990, travelled widely as a foreign correspondent, and served as the Post's managing editor between 1998 and 2004. He is the author of six other books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Ghost Wars. He lives in Washington and New York.

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster; Little, Brown)

From bestselling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Drawn from more than forty exclusive interviews that Isaacson conducted with Jobs over the course of two years – as well as with family members, colleagues, rivals, friends, and adversaries – Steve Jobs is the definitive portrait of our era’s most creative and innovative business leader. Isaacson’s book spans his entire life, the private and the public, covering exclusive details on his childhood, early influences of Buddhism, tales from inside his design studio, vision at Pixar, and innovative spirit at Apple.

Born in 1955 and a product of the late ‘60s San Francisco Bay-area, where flower power and computer processing intersected, young Jobs embraced a variety of experiences and contradictions:  LSD, veganism, and meditation along with fascination for electronics and technology.  He co-founded Apple as a 21-year-old in his parents’ garage, brought it to huge success, was ousted in 1985, and eventually returned in 1997. The one constant throughout his life has been the drive to explore the intersection of art and technology.  His artistic genius, volatile temperament and passionate vision led to the creation of revolutionary products that have changed the world.  He played by his own set of rules in all facets of life.

This book tells the greatest business story of our time. When Jobs took over Apple for the second time in 1997, the company was seven weeks from bankruptcy, and he made it the most valuable company on earth. He not only produced transforming products but also “a lasting company, endowed with his DNA and filled with creative designers and daredevil engineers who could carry forward his vision”.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written. He put nothing off-limits and encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. Isaacson captures his passions, perfectionism, demons, desires, artistry, devilry, and obsession to tell the most compelling story of the greatest business executive of our time.

WALTER ISAACSON, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; Kissinger: A Biography and the co-author of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and daughter.

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits Of Markets
Michael J. Sandel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Allen Lane)

Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?

In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong? What are the moral limits of markets?

In recent decades, market values have crowded out non-market norms in almost every aspect of life – medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realising it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?

In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can’t Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society – and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honour and that money can’t buy?

MICHAEL J. SANDEL is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University. His legendary 'Justice' course is the first Harvard course made freely available online ( and on television. His work has been translated into 15 languages and been the subject of television series in the UK, the US, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and the Middle East. He has delivered the Tanner Lectures at Oxford and been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, Paris. In 2010, China Newsweek named him the ‘most influential foreign figure of the year’ in China. Sandel was the 2009 BBC Reith Lecturer, and his most recent book Justice is an international bestseller.

Volcker: The Triumph of Persistence
William L. Silber (Bloomsbury Press)

Over the course of nearly half a century, five American presidents – three Democrats and two Republicans – have relied on the financial acumen and the integrity of Paul A. Volcker. During his tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, when he battled the Great Inflation of the 1970s, Volcker did nothing less than restore the reputation of an American financial system on the verge of collapse. After the 2008 financial meltdown, the nation turned again to Volcker to restore trust in a shaky financial system; President Obama would name his centrepiece Wall Street regulation the
‘Volcker Rule’. Volcker's career demonstrated that a determined central banker can prevail over economic turmoil – so long as he can resist relentless political pressure. His resolve and independent thinking – sorely tested by Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan – laid the foundation for a generation of economic stability. Indeed, William L. Silber argues, it was only Volcker's toughness on monetary policy that "forced Reagan to be Reagan" and to rein in America's deficit.

Noted scholar and finance expert Silber draws on hours of candid personal interviews and complete access to Volcker's personal papers to render dramatic behind-the-scenes accounts from Volcker's career at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve: secret negotiations with European ministers; confrontations with the White House; crisis conferences with Wall Street titans and even tense boardroom rebellions within the Fed itself. Filled with frank commentary from Volcker himself – including why he was personally irked with the ‘Volcker Rule’ label – this will be the definitive account of Volcker's indispensable role in American economic history.

WILLIAM L. SILBER is the Marcus Nadler Professor of Finance and Economics and Director, Glucksman Institute for Research in Securities Markets, at the Stern School of Business, New York University. He is also a member of the New York Mercantile Exchange where he has traded options and futures contracts. In the past he managed an investment portfolio for Odyssey Partners, and has also been a Senior Vice President, Trading Strategy, at Lehman Brothers, a Senior Economist with the President's Council of Economic Advisors, and a member of the Economic Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University and is a graduate of Yeshiva College. He has consulted for various government agencies, including the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget, the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, and the President's Commission on Financial Structure and Regulation. He has testified in Congress and has been an expert witness in a number of court cases. He has published over fifty articles in professional journals. His books include When Washington Shut Down Wall Street: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 and the Origins of America’s Monetary Supremacy, Selected Essays in Finance (editor), and the seminal textbooks Principles of Money, Banking and Financial Markets (co-author) and Money (co-author).

For further information please contact:

UK: Katrina Power/ Steven Williams, Midas PR
T: +44 (0)207 361 7860 / +44 (0)79639 62538 (Katrina Power)
Follow on Twitter @Bizbookaward and @Katrina_Power

Kristina Eriksson, Financial Times  
T: +44 (0)207 873 4961

Jo Carss, Goldman Sachs
T: +44 (0) 20 7774 4102

US: Mark Fortier, Fortier Public Relations
T: +1 212-675-6460, +1 646-246-3036
Follow on Twitter @Bizbookaward

Ryann Gastwirth, Financial Times
T: +1 917 551 5094

Notes to editors:

Entry forms and details of the terms and conditions are available from The annual award aims to identify the book that provides the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, including management, finance and economics. The shortlist of six titles was chosen from a longlist of fourteen. The winner will be announced at a gala event in New York on 1st November 2012. Submissions are invited from publishers or bona fide imprints based in any country.

Books must be published for the first time in the English language, or in English translation, between 16th November 2011 and 15th November 2012. There is no limit to the number of submissions from each publisher/imprint, provided they fit the criteria, and books from all genres except anthologies are eligible. There are no restrictions of gender, age or nationality of authors. Authors who are current employees of the Financial Times or Goldman Sachs, or the close relatives of such employees, are not eligible.

About the Financial Times:
The Financial Times, one of the world’s leading business news organisations, is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. Providing essential news, comment, data and analysis for the global business community, the FT has a combined paid print and digital circulation of almost 600,000 (Deloitte assured, 2 April 2012 – 1 July 2012) and a combined print and online average daily readership of 2.1 million people worldwide (PwC assured, May 2012). has more than 4.8 million registered users and over 300,000 paying digital subscribers. The newspaper has a global print circulation of 290,765 (ABC, July 2012).

About Goldman Sachs:
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world.