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December 18, 2009

What Is the Best Book You Read in 2009?

Catherine New
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Public Offering asked faculty members what books they enjoyed most this year and here’s what they said. (Take a look at last year’s list for more titles.)

Daniel Ames How to Break a Terrorist by Matthew Alexander is the story of the author’s experiences as a member of a U.S. intelligence and interrogation team working in Iraq in 2006. On one side, he struggles to coax information from hardened fighters as well as hapless suspects. On the other, he struggles with different attitudes in the military on the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques. It’s a fascinating glimpse into what is, for most of us, an unknown world. And the underlying story holds some lessons for how many of us might approach the “ordinary” conflicts in our everyday lives.

Ray Fisman Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein is an enormously entertaining and instructive look inside the world of the original economic gangsters.

Ray Horton I’ve read a number of good books on the now two-year-old economic crisis, including Robert Skidelsky’s  Keynes: The Return of the Master, Justin Fox’s The Myth of the Rational Market and Animal Spirits by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller. But the best of the bunch in my opinion is John Cassidy’s new book How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities. He does the best job of tying the theory problems to the rationally irrational behaviors that nearly sunk the ship of modern finance.

  Public Offering: Your View

What is your book pick of the year? Please share your nomination.


Malia Mason The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop with Robert G. Cushing.

Emi Nakamura This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff.

Many notable books and ideas were published by faculty authors this past year as well. Several of these have been recently featured in Columbia Ideas at Work including: The Curse of the Mogul by Bruce Greenwald, Jonathan Knee and Ava Seave; The Aid Trap by Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan; and Value Above Cost: Driving Superior Financial Performance with CVA: The Most Important Metric You’ve Never Used by Don Sexton.

Photo credit: Melanie


by Faisal Asghar | December 18, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Influence by Robert Cialdini. Talks about 6 methods people can use to convince others. The book has many easy to understand examples to back up each method.

by Jake Adelstein author of Tokyo Vice | December 19, 2009 at 3:22 AM

Ray Fisman-san, I am honored to be your book of the year. I think I just scratched the surface of the Yakuza in Japan's political-economic sphere of Japan in the book. I'm planning an academic tome on the economic yakuza, to be called "THE NINE FINGERED ECONOMY" sometime in 2010--a little bit in the vein of McMafia but probably on an academic press. By the way, my son's name is also Ray. Just Ray. 礼 (Rei) in Japanese means honor or decorum, politeness and sometimes when used in "oreimairi" to take revenge. We're hoping for just polite and honorable.

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