These Are the 6 Best Business Books of 2021, According to the ‘Financial Times’ and McKinsey

We’re rolling to the final quarter of 2021, which means readers have two happy seasonal treats to look forward to. First, the close of the year brings us ‘best of’ list season with its wealth of ideas for things to read, watch, and listen to. Second, it brings the cold weather that provides plenty of time to snuggle in and enjoy those recommendations. 

And, even though it’s only September, some of the first of the annual deluge of awards and critics’ picks are out, including the Financial Times and McKinsey’s shortlist for their prestigious Best Business Book of the Year honor. (Check out past winners here and here.) 

Roula Khalaf, editor of the FT, praises this year’s picks for tackling “many of the pressing issues facing business today,” while McKinsey managing partner Virginia Simmons claims the honorees offer “compelling and engaging insights into modern business, climate change conversations, and our sustainable and inclusive future.” 

Want to read along with the judging panel? Here’s the list:

1. The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy

This book by a pair of former FT journalists “tells the story of how a group of international commodity trading houses rode the commodity boom,” explains the newspaper. Among many other positive reviews, Foreign Policy insists, “If you have the slightest interest in how the modern world was made, by whom, at what price, and at what profit, this is the book for you.” 

2. Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

This book, described by critics as both riveting and enraging, was both a New York Times bestseller and one of President Obama’s summer book picks. It “explores the links between the Sackler family and the global epidemic of opioid addiction through the rise and fall of Purdue Pharma, a company owned by two of the Sackler brothers and their families.” 

3. The Conversation by Robert Livingston

A leading Harvard social psychologist “examines how to turn difficult discussions about race, at work and in society in general, into a meaningful promotion of change and racial justice” in this book, according to the FT

4. The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann 

A climatologist argues “against climate ‘inactivists’ and lays out systemic measures to combat the global problem of climate change,” the FT says. The book’s Amazon page is chock full of glowing recommendations from everyone from Bill Nye to Greta Thunberg to Leonardo DiCaprio.  

5. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth

The title of this one might not sound particularly cheery, but The New Yorker swears it’s actually a page-turner, describing the book as “part John le Carré and more parts Michael Crichton.” The FT praises it for its analysis of “the threat posed by the arms race between cyber criminals, spies, and hackers fighting to infiltrate essential computer systems.”

6. The Aristocracy of Talent by Adrian Wooldridge

This book by the journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge offers “a wide-ranging analysis of the backlash against meritocracy” and “makes the controversial case for a revival of competition according to talent,” according to the FT

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Candice Cearley

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