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Posted Aug. 22, 2008 10:55 a.m. by kate
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
Last week we launched the official countdown to Jack and Todd's book, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. We thought about hiring the New York City New Year's Ball and then decided on a book club, to help you gear up for Jack and Todd's book.
As Todd mentioned, it's a six-month book club. And since we launched it last week, a few questions have come up.
A few folks asked how the book club worked internationally. Dylan answers that here.
And a few folks have asked why we're keeping the five books a secret (the sixth book being Jack and Todd's book). For us, the element of surprise is part of the package.
I say this realizing that people are worried about, (a) receiving a book they already have; (b) receiving a book that's not applicable to theirself.
While I won't give away the book names, let me try to disperse some of that fog. First, the likelihood of someone owning these titles is quite slim. A hint, Good to Great, a great, common business title, isn't in this club. In choosing the titles, we considered the likelihood of people having had read the book, their applicability and whether they're a good read.
And second, on the question of whether the books are worth reading. Their subject lines follow that of Management, Leadership, Communication, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship. I'm sure you'll find a subject (or six) that work for you.
Hope that helps in your decision! Any other questions, shoot them my way. Happy to help. Here's the link, if you'd like to join our club.
Launching The Countdown Book Club
Posted Aug. 14, 2008 6:55 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In The Company - 800 CEO Read Blog
Our communication has been sporadic on the book project. Kate, our air traffic controller, is imploring us to get with it and start telling you what we have been up to. She's right and there is a lot that has happened.
The book has a name:
It has a beautiful cover:
The words have been written and most have survived the first round of edits. We are now in the polishing stage known as copyediting.
While we found ways to personally celebrate the completion of the manuscript with our families and the 800-CEO-READ team, we now want to share our growing excitement about the book with you.
The title is a bit of a giveaway, but our book is about business books. So we decided the best way to celebrate is to give you a sneak peak of some of the books we've included in The 100 Best.
We invite you to join The Countdown Book Club: Six Months To The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
You'll receive six books. The first book will be sent to you in September. We'll send you five books, one a month, through January. And then in February, you'll receive your copy of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
The cost is $99, which includes the six books and all the stamps to get them to you.
Now, we won't tell you which books we will send to you, but we promise you that they are more than worth your time and dollar.
Joe Nocera's Best Business Books Ever
Posted July 18, 2008 11:55 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Lists - 800 CEO Read Blog
Joe Nocera is a columnist for The New York Times who writes about big business, and yesterday my inbox was filled with notes pointing me to his blog. His latest post recommends what he believes are the best business books ever. Here is Nocera's list with his commentary:
- "Liar's Poker," by Michael Lewis (even though I've since become convinced that the anecdote that gives the book its title never happened).
- "The Devil's Candy," by Julie Salamon. (Greatest dissection of the movie business ever written.)
- "The Box,", by Marc Levinson. (Hard to believe you can write a great book about the rise and importance of the shipping container, but he pulled it off.)
- "Indecent Exposure," by David McClintick. (Published in 1982, it single-handedly created the business narrative genre).
- "The Go-Go Years," by John Brooks. (The best book by the most elegant writer to ever make business his subject.)
- "The Kingdom and the Power," by Gay Talese. (Yes, the subject is The New York Times, but how can you leave it off any list of great business books?)
- "Titan," by Ron Chernow. (Chernow's magisterial biography of John D. Rockefeller.)
- "Do You Sincerely Want To Be Rich," by Godfrey Hodgson, Bruce Page and Charles Raw. (Hard to believe that this committee of authors could write a sensational narrative about the rise and fall of Bernard Cornfeld, but that they did.)
- "Disney Wars," by James Stewart. ("Best corporate psychoanalysis I've ever read," says John Huey.)
- "The Informant," by Kurt Eichenwald (Forget his Enron book, "Conspiracy of Fools." This book, about the strange saga of Mark Whitacre and Archer Daniels Midland, is his masterpiece.)
- "Father, Son and Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond", by Thomas J. Watson and Peter Petre (The only great ghost-written C.E.O. autobiography ever written. No one else --not even Lee Iacocca or Jack Welch -- even comes close.)
- "When Genius Failed," by Roger Lowenstein. (Another one of those "how-did-he-do-it?" books: this account of the fall of Long Term Capital Management, which by all rights should be a tough slog, is crackling good read.)
- "Greed and Glory on Wall Street," by Ken Auletta. (This book, about the crack up of Lehman Brothers, has a great cast of characters, starting with Steve Schwartzman.) - [Out of Print]
- "The Smartest Guys in the Room," by Peter Elkind and Bethany McLean. (O.K., O.K., they are former colleagues of mine, and I was deeply involved in editing this book -- but I have to say, I think it turned out pretty well!)
Now as we have mentioned before, Jack and I will have a lot to say about The 100 Best Business Books of All-Time in February, but for now we'll say this. Nocera favored the story and tale over the tactics and theory. We think you need to read a wide range of books to get the mental nutrition you need for a well-balanced business diet. You'll be seeing some of these titles again.
PS Nocera has a new book out from Portfolio called Good Guys and Bad Guys: Behind the Scenes with the Saints and Scoundrels of American Business. This is compliation of profiles the writer has penned over the last several years.
Moneyball Author Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair
Posted June 19, 2008 10:19 a.m. by dylan
In Books in Books - 800 CEO Read Blog
If you are a baseball fan, or even just a fan of great writing, I highly recommend you check out Michael Lewis's recent article for Vanity Fair about sports agent Gus Dominguez, who has been convicted (wrongly, Lewis believes) of smuggling Cuban baseball players to the United States. In it, he follows the story back to Cuba and paints a fascinating portrait of baseball there. Peter Gammons recently stated on Baseball Tonight that the most exciting baseball experience of his life was watching a game in Havana, and you can almost taste that kind of excitement in this piece by Lewis.
Other than the incomparable Bill James, Lewis may be the man most responsible for popularizing the sabermetric approach to analyzing baseball. His seminal book Moneyball, in which he profiled the work of Billy Beane--GM of the Oakland Athletics--led many baseball fans to a better appreciation of just how valuable walks and On Base Percentage are. Joe Posnanski, of the Kansas City Star and author of The Soul of Baseball, described that phenomenon recently on his blog.
One of the reasons the book Moneyball was such a success, I think, is that it gave us a fascinating glimpse at how the magic trick worked. Yes, there was a lot of stuff in there about the draft, a lot of stuff about finding pitchers who throw funny, a lot of stuff about not selling jeans. But it seems to me the epiphany was that the Oakland A's just walked a whole helluva lot. [...] They walked and walked and freaking walked, And those walks turned a fat, limited, defensively challenged, John Jaha, Matt Stairs, Giambi Brothers bunch into a good enough offensive team to back up the Big 3 pitchers and win 87, 91 and 102 games.
With walks playing a starring role in Moneyball, many people just then started to realize how valuable and under-appreciated walks have been through the years. Not only does the walker get to go to first base, but he he uses up some of the pitchers valuable pitch count, he creates frustration, he has a chilling effect on the stadium atmosphere. I'm not suggesting that an increase in walks is good for baseball ... it is not, nothing in the game is more boring than a walk. But years ago, Pat Riley discovered that his New York Knicks could win basketball games by bullying and clawing and shoving and making basketball boring beyond pain. Sure, walks are boring. But they work.
Although you'll find it in the Sports and Recreation section of your local bookstore, Moneyball will be one of the books featured in Jack and Todd's 100 Best Business Books of All Time (which now has an ISBN and amazon page!) because it is essentially about managing an organization and changing an entire field of business with fresh thinking and new approaches. Jack contends that Michael Lewis is in the class of Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Joan Didion as a contemporary non-fiction writer. The Vanity Fair story certainly has me convinced.
VF Daily also interviewed Lewis about this recent article, and you can read that here.