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Fifth Annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders

Jun 16, 2008
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The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the "Fifth Annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders" for 2008, as recommended by faculty members and administrators.


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Inside the Future: Surviving the Technology Revolution, by Henry C. Lucas helps readers understand and appreciate the opportunities and threats presented by a new, technology-driven global economy. “This is a wonderful book describing the events and technologies that have transformed the business landscape,” says Howard Frank, former dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. “It helps the reader to understand the issues that trap executives in fading businesses and goes a long way to helping them avoid the many traps that are still to come.”


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The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune by Conor O'Clery recounts Chuck Feeney's rise from blue-collar beginnings in Elizabeth, N.J., to the head of Duty Free Shoppers, the largest liquor retailer in the world. Feeney's story influenced Bill Gates and others who decided to give away vast chunks of their wealth while still living, thus creating a new model for philanthropy. "I like this book because it gives those of us in the business of educating the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders something to think about,” says Rhonda Reger, associate professor of strategy for management and organization, “what is the purpose of making money?”


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The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspanis Greenspan's reaction to and reckoning with the post 9/11 “new world” - how we got here, what we're living through, and what lies over the horizon. “Greenspan’s book provides the ultimate insider’s perspective on the inner workings of the global economy,” says Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. “It explains how monetary tools can be utilized and demonstrates the complexity of interpreting market data. Even if you only read part of it, this book is a great learning experience.”


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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely debunks myths about rational decision making and argues that we are systematically and predictably irrational. “Irrational behavior is a part of human nature and has been thought to complicate human decision making,” says Chris Dellarocas, associate professor of information systems. Dan Ariely, an MIT marketing professor, shows us that people tend to behave irrationally in a predictable fashion. Ritu Agarwal, Dean’s Chair of Information Systems, also recommends the book. “It is insightful, entertaining, and above all, provocative and surprising.”


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Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin chronicles the story of Greg Mortenson, an American nurse and mountaineer who on a failed attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, stumbled alone into a small town in Northern Pakistan. After being sheltered and rehabilitated by the local people, he went on to found the Central Asia Institute. “This book contains a very thoughtful and nuanced description of the source of our current issues in the Middle East,” says Rachelle Sampson, assistant professor of logistics, business and public policy. “It is a fascinating story that clearly demonstrates the power of one person to change the world.”


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Collapse by Jared Diamond explores why past civilizations have collapsed and presents a comparative study of societies that have, sometimes fatally, undermined their own ecological foundations. “It is fascinating to see why such disparate peoples as the Anastazi Indians of the American Southwest, the Danish settlers of Greenland, and the people of Easter Island may have failed for much the same reason – the inability to create a sustainable lifestyle,” says Roland Rust, David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing and Distinguished University Professor. Diamond predicts dire results for such apparently wealthy and successful countries as Australia, and implies that the modern, civilized world may be next if we don't change our ways. “The book comes across as scholarly rather than ideological,” remarks Rust, “which is why it had such a strong effect on me.”


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When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein tells the saga of LTCM, a hedge fund run by Nobel Prize winning finance professors, that fell upon such hard times that it had to be bailed out with the help of the government. While the models LTCM used were sound, they went to extremes, and their strategy backfired when markets didn’t go the way they predicted. “Even though the book describes the rise and fall of LTCM in the 1990s, it is still relevant,” says Sue White, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow. “Hedge funds continue to be under fire for lack of regulation and using too much debt.” For those who don’t want to read the book, PBS has put out an hour-long documentary, The Trillion Dollar Bet, which talks about the mathematics behind the hedge fund and LTCM’s story.


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The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria describes a post-Iraq war world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy or geopolitics. He hones in on the "rise of the rest" – the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others – as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. Zakaria asks, how should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate, and what does it mean to live in a truly global era? “This is a provocative book that will make the reader think about how the global economy will change in the 21st century,” says G. "Anand" Anandalingam, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Management Science and new dean of the Smith School. “It also questions the current climate of protectionism and military adventurism.”


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Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus outlines the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s vision for a new business model that combines the power of free markets with the quest for a more humane world. Yunus recounts some of the earliest examples of social businesses and reveals the next phase in an economic and social revolution that is already under way. "Whether or not you fully embrace Dr. Yunus' new model of capitalism, you will undoubtedly think more deeply about the role of business in addressing social issues and your own role in doing more," says Melissa Carrier, director of venture investments and social entrepreneurship, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.


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Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business by Mark Robichaux details John Malone's rise to dominance in the cable television industry. The book demonstrates how an unassuming copper strand started as a backwoods antenna service and became the digital nervous system of the U.S., an evolution that gave U.S. consumers the fastest route to the Internet. “John’s shrewd business skills come across in every interaction and his financial maneuvering demonstrates a mastery of tax limited transaction,” says Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.