Summer is upon us and you’re searching for a few book recommendations that are both entertaining and useful. Look no further. We’ve asked deans, professors, recruiters, and executives to recommend a few titles that every MBA—or MBA wannabe—should read. Over the coming weeks, we’ll present those lists, as well as some feedback from the individuals who recommended them on why the books get their seal of approval.
Today’s list comes from Bloomberg Businessweek’s economics editor and senior writer, Peter Coy.
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (Wiley, 1996) by Peter Bernstein. “This book has stuck with me since I reviewed it for the old BusinessWeek in 1997 (I called it ‘a lively, panoramic book’),” Coy says. “Bernstein, who has since passed away, described how humankind mastered risk by figuring out the science of probability. Every MBA learns statistics, but the material becomes meaningful when you see where the concepts came from and how they’ve been applied.”
Antifragile (Random House, 2012) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. “Don’t read Bernstein’s book without also reading Taleb’s, which came out last year,” Coy says. “Antifragile is the capstone of Taleb’s trilogy, which includes Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan. Taleb detests economists and statisticians who claim to have a better handle on risk than they really do. To follow Taleb, try to make your business career ‘antifragile’—so it gains, rather than loses, from disorder.”
Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story (Grand Central, 2012) by Greg Smith. “Since at least half of every MBA class wants to go to Goldman Sachs (GS), it seems, it’s worth hearing from Greg Smith why he left the place,” Coy says. “In short, it’s because he felt Goldman had betrayed its own commitment to put clients first. Newly minted MBAs who still have their idealism intact will read Why I Left Goldman Sachs as a cautionary tale.”