THE FINANCIAL TIMES BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2022
Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology
by Chris Miller, Simon & Schuster (UK), Scribner (US)
Power in the modern world – military, economic, geopolitical – is built on a foundation of computer chips. America has maintained its lead as a superpower because it has dominated advances in computer chips and all the technology that chips have enabled. Virtually everything runs on chips: cars, phones, the stock market, even the electric grid.
Now that edge is in danger of slipping, undermined by the naïve assumption that globalising the chip industry and letting players in Taiwan, Korea and Europe take over manufacturing serves America’s interests. Currently, as Chip War reveals, China, which spends more on chips than any other product, is pouring billions into a chip-building Manhattan Project to catch up to the US.
In Chip War economic historian Chris Miller recounts the fascinating sequence of events that led to the United States perfecting chip design, and how faster chips helped defeat the Soviet Union by rendering the Russians’ arsenal of precision-guided weapons obsolete. The battle to control this industry will shape our future. China spends more money importing chips than buying oil, and they are China’s greatest external vulnerability as they are fundamentally reliant on foreign chips. But with 37 per cent of the global supply of chips being made in Taiwan, within easy range of Chinese missiles, the West’s fear is that a solution may be close at hand.
THE SHORTLIST FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2022
Dead in the Water: Murder and Fraud in the World’s Most Secretive Industry by Matthew Campbell, Kit Chellel, Atlantic Books (UK), Portfolio (US)
In July 2011, the oil tanker Brillante Virtuoso was drifting through the treacherous Gulf of Aden when a crew of pirates attacked and set her ablaze in a devastating explosion. But when David Mockett, a maritime surveyor working for Lloyd’s of London, inspected the damaged vessel, he was left with more questions than answers. Soon after his inspection, he was murdered.
Dead in the Water is a shocking exposé of the criminal inner-workings of international shipping, an old-world industry at the backbone of our global economy. Through first-hand accounts of those who lived the hijacking – from members of the ship’s crew and witnesses to the attacks, to the ex-London detectives turned private investigators seeking to solve Mockett’s murder – award-winning reporters Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel piece together the astounding truth behind one of the most brazen financial frauds in history.
Influence Empire: The Story of Tencent and China’s Tech Ambition by Lulu Chen, Hodder & Stoughton (UK and US)
In 2017, a company known as Tencent overtook Facebook to become the world’s fifth largest company. It was a watershed moment, a wake-up call for those in the West accustomed to regarding the global tech industry through the prism of Silicon Valley: Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.
Yet to many of the two billion-plus people who live just across the Pacific Ocean, it came as no surprise at all.
Founded by the enigmatic billionaire Pony Ma, the firm that began life as a simple text-message operator invested in and created some of China’s most iconic games enroute to dreaming up WeChat, the Swiss Army knife super-app that combines messaging, shopping and entertainment. Through billions of dollars of global investments in marquee names from Fortnite to Tesla and a horde of start-ups, Ma’s company went on to build a near-unparalleled empire of influence.
In this fascinating narrative, crammed with insider interviews and exclusive details, Lulu Chen tells the story of how Tencent created the golden era of Chinese technology, and delves into key battles involving Didi, Meituan and Alibaba. It’s a chronicle of critical junctures and asks just what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in China.
The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era, by Gary Gerstle, Oxford University Press (UK and US)
The epochal shift toward neoliberalism – a web of related policies that, broadly speaking, reduced the footprint of government in society and reassigned economic power to private market forces – that began in the United States and Great Britain in the late 1970s, fundamentally changed the world. Today, the word ‘neoliberal’ is often used to condemn a broad swath of policies, from prizing free market principles over people to advancing privatization programs in developing nations around the world.
To be sure, neoliberalism has contributed to a number of alarming trends, not least of which has been a massive growth in income inequality. Yet as the eminent historian Gary Gerstle argues in The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order, these indictments fail to reckon with the full contours of what neoliberalism was and why its worldview had such persuasive hold on both the right and the left for three decades.
As he shows, the neoliberal order that emerged in America in the 1970s fused ideas of deregulation with personal freedoms, open borders with cosmopolitanism, and globalisation with the promise of increased prosperity for all.
Along with tracing how this worldview emerged in America and grew to dominate the world, Gerstle explores the previously unrecognised extent to which its triumph was facilitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its communist allies. He is also the first to chart the story of the neoliberal order’s fall, originating in the failed reconstruction of Iraq and Great Recession of the Bush years and culminating in the rise of Trump and a reinvigorated Bernie Sanders-led American left in the 2010s.
An indispensable and sweeping re-interpretation of the last fifty years, this book illuminates how the ideology of neoliberalism became so infused in the daily life of an era, while probing what remains of that ideology and its political programs as America enters an uncertain future.
The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Art of Disruption by Sebastian Mallaby, Allen Lane (UK), Penguin Press (US)
Innovations rarely come from ‘experts’. Jeff Bezos was not a bookseller, Elon Musk was not in the auto industry. When it comes to innovation, a legendary venture capitalist told Sebastian Mallaby, the future cannot be predicted, it can only be discovered. Most attempts at discovery fail, but a few succeed at such a scale that they more than make up for everything else. That extreme ratio of success and failure is the power law that drives venture capital, Silicon Valley, the tech sector, and, by extension, the world.
Drawing on unprecedented access to the most celebrated venture capitalists of all time, award-winning financial historian Sebastian Mallaby tells the story of this strange tribe of financiers who have funded the world’s most successful companies, from Google to SpaceX to Alibaba. With a riveting blend of storytelling and analysis, The Power Law makes sense of the seeming randomness of success in venture capital, an industry that relies, for good and ill, on gut instinct and personality rather than spreadsheets and data.
We learn the unvarnished truth about some of the most iconic triumphs and infamous disasters in the history of tech, from the comedy of errors that was the birth of Apple to the venture funding that fostered hubris at WeWork and Uber, to the industry’s notorious lack of women and ethnic minorities.
Now the power law echoes around the world; it has transformed China’s digital economy beyond recognition, and London is one of the top cities for venture capital investment. By taking us so deeply into the VCs’ game, The Power Law helps us think about our own future through their eyes.
Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century by Helen Thompson, Oxford University Press (UK and US)
The 21st century has brought a powerful tide of geopolitical, economic, and democratic shocks. Their fallout has led central banks to create over $25 trillion of new money, brought about a new age of geopolitical competition, destabilised the Middle East, ruptured the European Union, and exposed old political fault lines in the United States.
Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century is a long history of this present political moment. It recounts three histories – one about geopolitics, one about the world economy, and one about western democracies – and explains how in the years of political disorder prior to the pandemic the disruption in each became one big story. It shows how much of this turbulence originated in problems generated by fossil-fuel energies, and it explains why, as the green transition takes place, the long-standing predicaments energy invariably shapes will remain in place.
THE BRACKEN BOWER PRIZE 2022
Âriel de Fauconberg for Before the Dawn: Racing to net zero on the front lines of climate innovation. De Fauconberg is a Gates Cambridge scholar and a PhD student in her penultimate year at the University of Cambridge, as well as co-founder and research director of the Good Data Initiative, a youth-led think-tank.
Victoria Berquist for The Unstoppable Rise of Private Capital in Public Health: How businesses can help or harm the future of healthcare. Berquist is a doctor, adviser to public and private healthcare organisations across several geographies, and is completing a masters in public policy at Harvard University.
Julia Marisa Sekula for Owning the Centre: Journeys from Silicon Valley to the Amazon Rainforest. Sekula is pursuing a joint MBA/MSc in nature co-design and climate-tech at Stanford University.
Notes to editors on The Bracken Bower Prize
The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken, who was chairman of the FT from 1945 to 1958, and Marvin Bower, managing director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who were instrumental in laying the foundations for the present-day success of the two institutions. This Prize honours their legacy but also opens a new chapter by encouraging young writers and researchers to identify and analyse the business trends of the future.
The Prize will be awarded to the best proposal tackling emerging business themes. The main theme of the proposed work should be forward-looking. In the spirit of the Business Book of the Year, the proposal should aim to provide a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management.
The best proposals will be published on FT.com and a prize of £15,000 is given for the best book proposal. Once the finalists’ entries appear on FT.com, authors are free to solicit or accept offers from publishers. The closing date for entries was 5pm (BST) on 30 September 2022. Entry forms and details of the terms and conditions are available from www.ft.com/bookaward.
Previous winners of the Bracken Bower Prize include Ines Lee and Eileen Tipoe for Failing the Class (2021), Stephen Boyle for New Money (2020), Jonathan Hillman for The Sinolarity (2019), Andrew Leon Hanna for 25 Million Sparks (2018), Mehran Gul for The New Geography of Innovation (2017), Nora Rosendahl for Mental Meltdown (2016), Christopher Clearfield and András Tilcsik for Rethinking the Unthinkable (2015), the winner of the inaugural prize, and Saadia Zahidi as the inaugural award winner for Womenomics (2014).
Only writers who are under 35 on 30 November 2022 are eligible. They can be a published author, but the proposal itself must be original and must not have been previously submitted to a publisher. Authors who are current employees of the Financial Times or McKinsey & Company, or the close relatives of such employees, are not eligible.
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