NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the memoir of the newly loquacious Alan Greenspan to a workplace guide with an unspeakable word in the title, books about business generated their share of discussion in 2007.
In “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” former Fed Chairman Greenspan caused some political aftershocks by writing that the Iraq war was all about oil and that U.S. President George W. Bush had abandoned fiscal discipline.
Of course, controversy makes money as well as headlines, and the book has been a best-seller since its release in September.
But 30,000 pounds ($60,000) in prize money slipped away when “Turbulence” missed out on the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year award.
Instead, the judges chose “The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co” after a tough debate, the Financial Times said. They finally concluded that author William Cohan had provided “the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.”
While Lazard had cultivated an image of “great men” providing sage advice to movers and shakers around the globe, Cohan — a former banker there — revealed infighting, back-stabbing and greed no different from the rest of Wall Street.
Needless to say, the book had the Street buzzing when it came out in April. It also incurred the wrath of Lazard, which called the account “substantially inaccurate” and Cohan a “junior banker” who hadn’t worked there in more than 10 years.
Meanwhile, another former junior banker, Dana Vachon, became what The Huffington Post blog called publishing’s golden boy of the moment last spring after he fictionalized and satirized his short career at JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) in “Mergers and Acquisitions.”
The highly touted book brought Vachon a $650,000 advance and a movie deal, but didn’t make the best-seller lists.
One notable book that did was “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Stanford University professor Robert I. Sutton.
While there’s no shortage of advice on how to cope with office bullies, Sutton advises against even tolerating them. He suggests companies “view acting like an asshole as a communicable disease” and to adopt a “no-jerks” rule not only for their own staffs, but also for clients and customers.
The title may have been jarring, but the message struck a chord. The book won the publishing industry’s Quill Award in the business category, and Sutton told the Associated Press that in the days following its publication in February, he was getting at least 15 e-mails a day from people with bad bosses.
Ironically, the recipient of another prize had debunked a key part of the very category in which it won. “The Halo Effect ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers” was named business book of the year by the getAbstract awards committee at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Rosenzweig, a professor at the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, found more than a couple of delusions in management bibles like Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman’s “In Search of Excellence.”
His conclusion was there’s no magic secret to success. But this year’s crop of business books at least showed there is more than one way to get noticed.
Additional reporting by Joseph A. Giannone, Ellen Wulfhorst and Helen Chernikoff