What would investment bankers recommend you to read?

Published for two years now, the Goldman Sachs annual reading list is here for 2016 where members of Sachs recommend a book they loved during the year.
Zero to One: Note on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
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Zero to One: Note on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future

by Peter Thiel,Blake Masters

About the book:  What valuable company is nobody building? The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won't make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them. It's easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we alre...


Notes:  Recommended by William Hurley – Investment Management Division, Austin
This is one of my favorite books to recommend to new entrepreneurs and innovators. The concept is simple enough, the next Bill Gates won’t invent an operating system, the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t invent a social network. To truly innovate, you are able to escape competition and market factors by creating ideas that are “0 to 1” and with those ideas, completely new marketplaces.

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The Gene: An Intimate History new
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The Gene: An Intimate History new

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

About the book:  From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?Sid...


Notes:  Recommended by Katie Koch – Investment Management Division, New York
Siddartha Mukherjee, author of the cynosural history of cancer, The Emperor of all Maladies (another must-read!) once again skillfully weaves together the personal, the historical and the scientific in The Gene. Warning: there are sections where you may need to dust off your old biology books (I had to call my mom, a science teacher, to conquer certain chapters). However, the book really hits its stride when it moves far beyond the exploration of the gene as the essential unit of biological information and starts to probe at the practical, ethical and moral implications of genetic determinism and modification. Riveting.

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The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't
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The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't

by Nate Silver

About the book:  "Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." —Rachel Maddow, author of DriftNate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation's foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.com.Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read.


Notes:  Recommended by Kent Clark – Investment Management Division, New York
This is a remarkably engaging book about how people fail when making predictions and the approaches followed by superior predictors. Each chapter uses real-world examples from different disciplines to reveal how the best and worst predictors behave, including revisiting Billy Beane, the protagonist of ‘Moneyball,’ and speaking with Goldman Sachs’ Jan Hatzius. Silver even successfully finds a way to gently introduce the reader to Bayesian statistics, which I realize is hard to believe but true.

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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

by Matthew Desmond

About the book:  New York Times BestsellerFrom Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America  In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind. The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas. Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.


Notes:  Recommended by Sarah Smith – Finance Division, New York
The author recounts the stories of tenants and landlords in the poorest areas of Milwaukee during 2008 and 2009. It is an eye-opening account of the challenges faced by many in America to simply find and keep a place to live. It will stay with me for a long time.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

by Jared M. Diamond

About the book:  "Fascinating.... Lays a foundation for understanding human history."―Bill Gates In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.


Notes:  Recommended by Shigeki Kiritani – Investment Management Division, Tokyo
Europeans conquered other continents with guns, germs and steel. What makes the difference between conquerors and conquered? The author demonstrates from various points of view that it wasn’t because of the superiority or inferiority of particular races, but because of the geographical and ecological advantages that the Eurasian continent offered to the people who lived there. For example, in Eurasia, there happened to be plants and animals suitable for domestication, which could be transferred and shared relatively easily across the continent. Fun reading with lots of intellectual stimulation.

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Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
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Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

About the book:  In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance. In Grit, she takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Among Grit’s most valuable insights: *Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal *How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances *How lifelong interest is triggered *How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy *Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards *The magic of the Hard Thing Rule Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.


Notes:  Recommended by Katie Koch – Investment Management Division, New York
After reading this book you will no longer think it is a compliment to be described as “a natural” at anything. Duckworth provides copious examples, including West Point applicants, math champions, and elite athletes, to demonstrate how tests that seek to establish innate intelligence or ability fail miserably to predict long term success. What does correlate well with success? A distinctive blend of a growth-mindset, passion, and perseverance over adversity that she labels “grit.” Adopting the central thesis has profound implications for the way we parent, coach, mentor, hire and pursue our own “top-level goals.” Grit ends on an inspiring note because Duckworth explains grit is not a “fixed characteristic” but instead can be learned.

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World Order
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World Order

by Henry Kissinger

About the book:  “Dazzling and instructive . . . [a] magisterial new book.” —Walter Isaacson, Time Henry Kissinger offers in World Order a deep meditation on the roots of international harmony and global disorder. Drawing on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era—advising presidents, traveling the world, observing and shaping the central foreign policy events of recent decades—Kissinger now reveals his analysis of the ultimate challenge for the twenty-first century: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historical perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.There has never been a true “world order,” Kissinger observes. For most of history, civilizations defined their own concepts of order. Each considered itself the center of the world and envisioned its distinct principles as universally relevant. China conceived of a global cultural hierarchy with the emperor at its pinnacle. In Europe, Rome imagined itself surrounded by barbarians; when Rome fragmented, European peoples refined a concept of an equilibrium of sovereign states and sought to export it across the world. Islam, in its early centuries, considered itself the world’s sole legitimate political unit, destined to expand indefinitely until the world was brought into harmony by religious principles. The United States was born of a conviction about the universal applicability of democracy—a conviction that has guided its policies ever since.Now international affairs take place on a global basis, and these historical concepts of world order are meeting. Every region participates in questions of high policy in every other, often instantaneously. Yet there is no consensus among the major actors about the rules and limits guiding this process or its ultimate destination. The result is mounting tension.Grounded in Kissinger’s deep study of history and his experience as national security advisor and secretary of state, World Order guides readers through crucial episodes in recent world history. Kissinger offers a unique glimpse into the inner deliberations of the Nixon administration’s negotiations with Hanoi over the end of the Vietnam War, as well as Ronald Reagan’s tense debates with Soviet Premier Gorbachev in Reykjavík. He offers compelling insights into the future of U.S.–China relations and the evolution of the European Union, and he examines lessons of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking readers from his analysis of nuclear negotiations with Iran through the West’s response to the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia over Ukraine, World Order anchors Kissinger’s historical analysis in the decisive events of our time.Provocative and articulate, blending historical insight with geopolitical prognostication, World Order is a unique work that could come only from a lifelong policy maker and diplomat.


Notes:  Recommended by Bobby Vedral – Securities Division, London
Nobody knows the world of politics & diplomacy better than Henry Kissinger – an absolute and undisputed numero uno!

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A Little Life
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A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

About the book:  NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers. When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance. From the Hardcover edition.


Notes:  Recommended by Human Capital Management, London
A Little Life, which has been nominated for a number of book awards this year, is a long but very compelling read. It follows the lives of four classmates from a small Massachusetts college as they pursue their chosen paths in New York City. It is an extraordinary study of friendship and trauma – you are led to understand the minds of the characters in a way that is equally gripping and at times, harrowing.

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Between the World and Me
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Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

About the book:  Winner, Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction, 2015 In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country's foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can America reckon with its fraught racial history? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children's lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path towards a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion, to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America's history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story 'The Case for Reparations'. He lives in New York with his wife and son. ‘Coates offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son's life...this moving, potent testament might have been titled Black Lives Matter.’ Kirkus Reviews ‘I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’ journey, is visceral, eloquent and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.’ Toni Morrison ‘Extraordinary…Ta-Nehisi Coates…writes an impassioned letter to his teenage son—a letter both loving and full of a parent’s dread—counselling him on the history of American violence against the black body, the young African-American’s extreme vulnerability to wrongful arrest, police violence, and disproportionate incarceration.’ David Remnick, New Yorker ‘A searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today…as compelling a portrait of a father–son relationship as Martin Amis’s Experience or Geoffrey Wolff’s The Duke of Deception.’ New York Times ‘Coates possesses a profoundly empathetic imagination and a tough intellect...Coates speaks to America, but Australia has reason to listen.’ Monthly


Notes:  Recommended by Lisa Opoku – Technology Division, New York
The book is written by the author for his son. I chose to read it because I have a son and I think the experience of being a black male in America is unique. I want to be educated by his perspective for my son Austin’s benefit.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four
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Nineteen Eighty-Four

by George Orwell

About the book:  This is the essential edition of the essential book of modern times, 1984, now annotated for students with an introduction by D. J. Taylor. Ever since its publication in 1948, George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian regime where Big Brother controls its citizens like 'a boot stamping on a human face' has become a touchstone for human freedom, and one of the most widely-read books in the world. In this new annotated edition Orwell's biographer D. J. Taylor elucidates the full meaning of this timeless satire, explaining contemporary references in the novel, placing it in the context of Orwell's life, elaborating on his extraordinary use of language and explaining the terms such as Newspeak, Doublethink and Room 101 that have become familiar phrases today.


Notes:  Recommended by Ben Ferguson – Securities, Tokyo
With the context of the Snowden leaks and NSA programs, I re-read 1984. Orwell’s dystopian 1950’s masterpiece proves more prescient today than in 1984. It resonates in our world of disaffected politics, state-sponsored surveillance and geopolitical tension. One thing Orwell got wrong: his ubiquitous telescreens used by big brother to monitor citizens that are a considered a threat by the main characters. Today, we happily drop a GPS enabled smartphone with video/audio components and geo-tagging into our pockets that can easily double as a tool to monitor every move in our lives.

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