Books You Should Read This Summer

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On disruption
Virtual Competition: The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy, by Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice E. Stucke
Today's digital shopping is enabled by apps, fuelled by data and steered by sophisticated algorithms. But is this making for less competition, not more? Does increased price transparency and personalized pricing end up harming the consumer?

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, by Tim Wu
Mr. Wu examines how our time and attention are harvested and monetized. There's nothing new about the phenomenon – it goes back to the birth of advertising – but industries that feed on human attention are growing faster than ever. There are, however, signs of revolt.

How America Lost its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft, by Edward Jay Epstein
This acclaimed study is an indictment of both Snowden himself – puncturing the idea of him as hero – and the vulnerability of the US national security systems that he exploited. Mr. Epstein casts light on a shadowy figure who continues to divide people.

On finance
Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, by Sheelah Kolhatkar
Hedge funds have created immense wealth for their founders and investors, but the high stakes have given rise to intense competition and aggressive business practices. Ms. Kolhatkar explores a famous case where the search for an "edge" came with questionable means.

Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now, by William A. Birdthistle
With the rise of the 401(k), how successfully can ordinary citizens manage their retirement assets in a financial system dominated by experts and big financial institutions? Mr. Birdthistle says the answer lies in improving financial literacy.

On leadership
Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, by Boris Groysberg
Companies expend effort and money to lure talented employees away from competitors – but success may not be so "portable". Could a firm's proprietary resources and culture, its employees' individual networks and the collective strengths of co-workers have a bigger impact on performance?

On politics
Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, by Thomas Frank
In the era of President Trump, what's the future for the Democratic party in the US? Mr. Frank argues that the party has lost sight of its working-class roots, instead pursuing "elite professionals". In his view, it is only by regaining its original sense of purpose that the party can seek to reverse the growing rift between the country's rich and poor.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic, by Sam Quinones
Powerful and highly addictive new painkillers – combined with a peerless marketing and distribution system – have devastated communities across the US. Mr. Quinones tells a compelling, tragic story of capitalism gone sour.

The Fourth Political Theory, by Alexander Dugin
An advisor to President Vladimir Putin, this controversial Russian political theorist sets out a new defining ideology. It provides insight into Mr. Putin's view of how fading Western leadership could help Russia re-emerge on the global stage as an equal to the US and EU.

Something different
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, by Laurence Gonzales
The survivors of extremely challenging environments aren't always the ones who are better-equipped or better-trained. This book presents a range of incredible stories to help explore what decisions get people into trouble – and what they can do to get out of danger again.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis
Mr. Lewis turns his pen to the birth of behavioural economics. He tells the story of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, and how their relationship led to insights that shape so many areas of our life – from finance to football.

What's next on my list

  • Move Fast and Break Things, How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, by Jonathan Taplin
  • Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War, by Stephen R. Platt
  • The Despot's Accomplice: How the West Is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy, by Brian Klaas
  • The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder, by Peter Zeihan
  • The Girl with 7 Names: Escape from North Korea, by Hyeonseo Lee

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The material contains the current opinions of the author, which are subject to change without notice. Statements concerning financial market trends are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate. References to specific securities and issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, recommendations to purchase or sell such securities. Forecasts and estimates have certain inherent limitations, and are not intended to be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation.

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