Best business books of 2008

When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change
By Mohamed El-Erian
McGraw-Hill Professional £15.99, 304 pages
Winner of the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2008. El-Erian’s serious analysis of the new economic world order has won admirers in every major financial market. As we struggle to work out what the “new normal” will look like, El-Erian provides readers with market-tested insights.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness
By Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
Yale University Press £18, 293 pages
The policy wonks’ favourite, this treatise by two Chicago economists has proved highly influential. Top-down government diktat is proving less and less effective, they argue. People cannot be told what to do. For better outcomes, “nudge” them: make suggestions, use peer pressure. Less convincing on what happens when nudging isn’t enough.

The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything
By Tim Harford
Little, Brown £18.99, 288 pages
The FT’s undercover economist comes out into the open with an entertaining look at behavioural economics, and the rational motivation behind our apparently quirky and unexpected actions. Does going Dutch at a restaurant make economic sense? When is it right to bluff at cards?

A Sense of Urgency
By John Kotter
Harvard Business Press £11.99, 208 pages
One of the world’s leading gurus of change, Kotter revisits his eight steps of change theory and focuses on its most important element: a sense of urgency. Managing change successfully really does come down to that. An elegantly written book that proves you don’t have to drone on endlessly to make a point.

McMafia: Crime Without Frontiers
By Misha Glenny
The Bodley Head £20, 426 pages
Shortlisted for the FT/Goldman Sachs Award. Glenny was an eyewitness to the collapse of eastern bloc states in the early 1990s, and discovered a criminal underworld to which he now returns in this racy narrative. It’s not just business that has embraced the possibilities of globalisation: crooks have too.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
By Alice Schroeder
Bloomsbury £25, 976 pages
Shortlisted for the FT/Goldman Sachs Award. The authorised biography of one of the world’s richest men details his long and productive life and apparently homespun methods: he invests only in businesses he understands and eschews legalistic paperwork in favour of gut instinct and personal chemistry.

Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell
Allen Lane £16.99, 256 pages
Genius is overrated, says Gladwell. His new book argues that hard work and persistence, plus luck and timing, are more important to success than inspiration. Just put in 10,000 hours of graft and be born at the right time. It’s that easy.

The Last Amateurs: To Hell and Back with the Cambridge Boat Race Crew
By Mark de Rond
Icon Books £17.99, 304 pages
What happens when you chuck an academic ethnographer into the changing rooms and let him spend the next 18 months observing (and training with) the Cambridge boat race crew? Answer: a gripping and colourful account of an elite team getting ready to perform. (Warning: contains nudity, swearing and descriptions of unappealing bodily functions.)

Cold Steel: Britain’s Richest Man and the Multibillion Dollar Battle for a Global Empire
By Tim Bouquet and Byron Ousey
Little, Brown £20, 352 pages
Shortlisted for the FT/Goldman Sachs Award. The blow-by-blow account of Lakshmi Mittal’s bruising takeover battle for Arcelor, the European steel giant. Terrific narrative reporting, bringing the energy and drama of the sports pages into the business world.

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy
By Lawrence Lessig
Avery Publishing £20, 352 pages
Shortlisted for the FT/Goldman Sachs Award. What does our old notion of copyright mean in the age of Google? A Stanford Law professor takes a combative approach to the legalistic restrictions that may yet stifle the most exciting possibilities offered by the new technology.

What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism
By Philip Delves Broughton
Viking, £12.99, 304 pages
A sceptical journalist gets on board the MBA gravy train at Harvard, its spiritual home. But to what use do its graduates put their priceless education? Broughton is not convinced that everyone leaves this school committed to live up to its high ideals.

The Ten Commandments of Business Failure
By Don Keough
Penguin £9.99, 208 pages
The former Coca-Cola president offers a list of 10 stupid things business leaders can easily end up doing. A charming book: like an extended fireside chat with the company chairman of your dreams.

About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

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