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Fourth Annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders

Jun 15, 2007
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The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the "Fourth Annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders" for 2007, as recommended by faculty members and administrators.

   Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (1998) by Peter L. Bernstein explores the role of risk in our society, arguing that bringing risk under control is one of the central ideas distinguishing modern times from the past. "The book reads like a novel and is a fascinating adventure following the history of risk from basic probability theory, bell curves and gambling to volatility studies, quantitative market analysis and game theory," says G. Anandalingam, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Management Science. "There is a little bit of something for everyone in this book." Find out more at Amazon.com.
  The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable(2007) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb examines the influence of highly improbable and unpredictable events that have massive impact. "The Black Swan is an important--very important--book that all researchers should read, and executives too," says John A. Haslem, professor emeritus of finance. Find out more at Amazon.com.
  India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age (2002) by Gurcharan Das offers a look at how India has risen to become a leading player in the global economy. "This is a very good book written by the former CEO of Procter & Gamble India," says Anil Gupta, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship. "It traces India's political and economic history from 1950 until 2000." Find out more at Amazon.com.
  The Last Mughal: Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 (2007) by William Dalrymple is a very worthy tribute to mark the 150th anniversary of Indian independence from Britain. "This book sheds new light on the 'Great Mutiny' including insight from papers generated by the anti-British forces during their temporary control of the city: 'The Mutiny Papers' from the National Archives of India," says G. Anandalingam, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Management Science. "It is an easy-to-read narrative and the first to present the Indian perspective on the fall of Delhi." Find out more at Amazon.com.
  Men at Arms (1952) by Evelyn Waugh is the first book in his ?Sword of Honor? trilogy. "It chronicles the misadventures of Guy Crouchback, a melancholy type who wants to ?do his bit? in World War II. Along the way, he meets a wide range of eccentric characters, many total misfits, who show up unexpectedly throughout the three books," says Gabriel Biehal, associate professor of marketing. "The first volume ends with Guy's participation in a short but nasty raid in Dakar. An engaging and easy read, Waugh offers penetrating observations about politics, society, religion, and leadership during difficult times." Find out more at Amazon.com.
  The Real Deal: My Life in Business and Philanthropy(2006) by Sandy Weill and Judah S. Kraushaar is a fascinating autobiographical account of Weill, former chairman and CEO of Citigroup and renowned philanthropist, and his rise in the corporate and philanthropic worlds. "Sandy was the business architect around building Citigroup," says Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. "He has been the most successful value creator of the last few decades outpacing Warren Buffet, as well." Find out more at Amazon.com.
   Tough Choices: A Memoir (2006) by Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP and Smith MBA '80, is the autobiographical story of Fiorina's career and tenure at HP. "Carly's book provides us with a rich tapestry of brilliant insights, observations, and very valuable lessons about leadership. With passion, purpose , dedication, openness, and critical thinking, Carly led Hewlett-Packard through one of the great organizational transformations in the history of corporate America," says former dean Rudy Lamone, professor emeritus of entrepreneurship. "She captures the tenacity, spirit, and uncanny vision of great leaders. We can all draw strength and wisdom from this wonderful book." Also recommended by Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, who says, "Carly's book provides a candid and introspective look at the challenges of getting and keeping the top job in today's business world. It is a must read for anyone looking to gain a back stage pass to world of big business." Find out more at Amazon.com.
  In Why Should Anyone be Led by You: What It Takes To Be An Authentic Leader (2006) by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones, the authors say that inspirational leaders share four qualities: leaders show and reveal their weaknesses, rely heavily on intuition and associated timing, manage with tough empathy, and reveal--and capitalize on--their differences. "An authentic leader is genuine and real," says Scott Koerwer, associate dean for professional programs and services. "This book uses thoughtful observations to show how leaders can best succeed by just being themselves." Find out more at Amazon.com.
  Working with Emotional Intelligence (2000) by Daniel Coleman describes the author's concept of emotional intelligence and explains why IQ and job skills are not enough to succeed in business. "I found it especially interesting for several reasons," says Sue White, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow. "First, I'm a numbers person and teach finance. I've always scored high on the aptitude tests that tell me I should be working with numbers, not people. It was very helpful to learn about the author's insights into people's interactions with each other -- something that is not intuitive for me. Second, I break my classes into teams, and the book confirms what I've observed -- it's not enough for successful teams to have very smart people on them. The most successful teams are those where the team members have good social skills and can work well together. I've used a lot of points from the book in talking to my classes about the importance of working well with others. The book talks about how to develop personal skills, like accurately assessing yourself, adaptability, and trustworthiness, and about developing relationship skills such as cooperation and managing conflicts." Find out more at Amazon.com.
   The Wreck of the Penn Central (1971/1999) by Joseph R Daughen and Peter Binzen is a classic true story by two journalists who document the sad demise of the largest U.S. railroad in the late 1960s. "It is a tale of poor management, inflexible labor and irresponsible government," says Phil Evers, associate professor of logistics management. "Long before there was Enron, there was the Penn Central Railroad. The Penn Central was created in 1968 from a merger of two formerly strong, but by then greatly struggling, railroads: the Pennsylvania and the New York Central. Unfortunately, these two long-time competitors brought with them differing, and ultimately divisive, managerial styles. Moreover, the combination of railroad operations did not lead to sizeable reductions in labor costs due to the intransigence of the many unions representing the railroad's workforce. And furthermore, the ineptitude of government policy and decision-making hampered the railroad's efforts at every turn: from the protracted merger consideration process and unwieldy merger conditions eventually imposed, through the tortuous method by which railroad rates were set, to the cumbersome manner in which rail service had to be examined prior to approving any discontinuance. In summary, it is an instructive tale for managers outside the railroad industry that is just as relevant today as it was back then. The fact that the railroad industry has undergone a genuine renaissance in the past two decades or so is at least some indication that all parties involved learned their lesson on how not to run a business." Find out more at Amazon.com.

Editor's Choice: Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2007) by Bill McKibben and If Harry Potter Ran General Electric: Leadership Wisdom from the World of the Wizards(2006) by Tom Morris.

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.