PERSPECTIVE3-5 min to read

Our favourite non-fiction books and podcasts in 2022

Here are some of the non-fiction reads and listens enjoyed by Cazenove Capital colleagues, from all parts of the business, throughout 2022.

29/12/2022
reading books 2022

Authors

Victoria Beckett
Editor and Copywriter

“The Molecule of More” by Daniel Z Lieberman, MD and Michael E Long

Jade Wingrove, Paraplanner

It is a common myth that Dopamine is the pleasure neurotransmitter in our brains. This books teaches how this is a misinterpretation – it is the neurotransmitter that makes us want something and gives us the drive the achieve goals. There is a chapter for love, addiction, domination, creativity and madness, politics and progress. It is fascinating to learn about the role that dopamine plays in each of our lives both positive and negative.

“The power law” by Sebastian Mallaby

Alexander Tate, Portfolio Director

This book tracks the history of venture capital (VC) using the power law as a central device. It argues that the power law is what has driven companies such as Amazon in a “winner takes all” environment of tech. It spans from the founding of Intel with the first real VC investment, via US funding of the Chinese tech industry, albeit slightly underplaying the role of the Chinese state in encouraging these things, up to present day and the story of Uber and other unicorns. It is a fascinating primer on how we got to a place where SoftBank alone drove up WeWork’s valuation until the house of cards fell down, as well as the birth of the industry that’s given rise to almost everything we do using an electronic device today.

“Putin’s People” by Catherine Belton

Caspar Rock, Chief Investment Officer

I read this very chilling book while on a very hot holiday. It is an enthralling book on contemporary Russia. From interference in American elections, to sponsoring extremist politics in Europe and invading Ukraine, Putin's Russia has been expanding its influence, and pushing to undermine Western institutions in recent years. But how and why did all this happen, and who orchestrated it?

Investigative journalist and former Moscow correspondent, Catherine Belton, reveals how Putin and the small group of KGB men rose to power and looted their country. Catherine accesses key inside players to show how Putin replaced the tycoons of the Yeltsin era with a new generation of loyal oligarchs, who extended the Kremlin's reach into the US and Europe. The book is immaculately researched, and has even stood firm under the scrutiny of the UK legal system, as some of its protagonists attempted to block its publication.

“The Myth of Normal” by Gabor Maté

Jade Wingrove, Paraplanner

In his latest book, Gabor Maté discusses the illnesses that are on the rise in western countries. He makes links between these illnesses and the traumas we have experienced in our lives. Gabor has more than four decades of clinical experience as a doctor and dispels the myth of what “normal” means. He delves into how in the western world, those practising medicine rarely look at the person as a whole, rather than the one ailment they seek help with and missing vital connections.

 

“Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World” by Tom Burgis

Giles Neville, CEO for the Channel Islands

Using forensic investigative journalism while reading like a literary thriller, this book follows a global current of dirty money. It has helped my understanding of the systems of power in Russia and some of its neighbours and their post Glasnost retreat back towards the Soviet era. The author is a journalists for the Financial Times and the book is meticulously researched.

“Money Men” by Dan McCrum

Alexander Tate, Portfolio Director

This is the story of the spectacular rise and fall of Wirecard, told by the FT journalist who did much to draw attention to the unlikely nature of Wirecard’s success. In exchange he was harassed, threatened, investigated by the German regulator and much more. It is a fascinating glimpse into the nature of fraud and the difficulty in arresting the perpetrators. With their former COO Jan Marsalek still on the run, and with alleged Russian intelligence links, there will be more to come in this story!

“Surrounded By Idiots” by Thomas Erikson

Rachel Sutton, Portfolio Director

One of my favourite days at work this year was the day we did our Insights Training and learnt what colour – Red, Blue, Green and Yellow – best described our behaviour and personality. Perhaps the most insightful part was understanding the colours that represented various colleagues.

Surrounded By Idiots by Thomas Erikson is an insightful analysis of these four colours. If you are looking for ways to better communicate with other, to understand how other might work differently to you then it’s a fascinating read.

“The Power Law” by Sebastian Mallaby

Alexander Tate, Portfolio Director

This book tracks the history of venture capital (VC) using the power law as a central device. It argues that the power law is what has driven companies such as Amazon in a “winner takes all” environment of tech. It spans from the founding of Intel with the first real VC investment, via US funding of the Chinese tech industry, albeit slightly underplaying the role of the Chinese state in encouraging these things, up to present day and the story of Uber and other unicorns. It is a fascinating primer on how we got to a place where SoftBank alone drove up WeWork’s valuation until the house of cards fell down, as well as the birth of the industry that’s given rise to almost everything we do using an electronic device today.

 

“Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America” by Christopher Wylie

Nathalie Krekis, Portfolio Director

I vividly remember setting up my Facebook account in the Leeds University computer room back in 2005 when it was simply a website to upload photos of your nights out and to let everyone know of your relationship status. Fast forward to 23 June 2016 – another unforgettable day in my life – and the social networking site had become quite something else.

This book was recommended to me by a colleague who was presenting on the topic of big data to our team. It is an astonishing read about how our data was essentially weaponised to help influence two historic moments for the UK and US. Thanks to the bravery of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, he helped to lay bare a pretty huge issue that these relatively new companies present.

Regardless of your political views – this book provides a thorough examination of how powerful our data can be in the wrong hands.

 

“Nazi Billionaires” by David de Jong

Alexander Tate, Portfolio Director

This draws out the full extent to which many of the businesses that drove the resurgence of post-WW2 Germany had leadership or ownership who were far more intimately involved with the Nazi hierarchy than official history now relates. Brands like Porsche, BMW, VW, Dr Oetker, and various other entities, such as the Von Finck bank which now makes up a part of what is now Quintet Private Bank, and had its roots in businesses that were forcibly aryanised by the Nazi regime. This book has provoked much controversy in Germany and led to many of these businesses reinvestigating their history and seeking to be more transparent about their history.

 

“Freezing order” by Bill Browder

Alexander Tate, Portfolio Director

Many people know the story of Bill Browder, Hermitage, and the tax fraud that led to the death of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitski, in custody in Russia. You might have seen the Magnitsky law in the press over the last decade. This book both reminds the reader of the story in “Red Notice” his previous book, and updates on the challenges (in every sense) he’s faced in trying to hold the perpetrators accountable. It draws out the depths of the kleptocracy that the Russian state has become, but also makes explicit the extent to which Russian money has influenced and damaged the western institutions that we trust in.

Podcasts

“The Presidents & Prime Ministers” hosted by Iain Dale

Hugo Studholme, Portfolio Director

This LBC podcast is presented by veteran political commentator Iain Dale and is essential listening for anyone with an interest in US and UK politics and history. Dale has worked with a wide range of US and UK historians, politicians and journalists to compile compact biographies of each US president from Washington to Biden, and all the UK prime ministers from Walpole to Johnson. UK politics has been so fast moving in 2022 that the Truss and Sunak episodes have yet to be recorded. The podcast started in October 2020 with Simon Heffer on Gladstone and ended in November 2022 with Andrew Adonis on Biden. Each episode lasts around an hour, but can be short for short lived leaders. Dale gently steers his guests through each political life and in each case asks them to rank the POTUS or PM.

“The Newsagents” hosted by Emily Maitlis, Lewis Goodall, and John Sopel

Abbie Brown, Client Services Executive

Three journalists, all formerly working the BBC, dissect and analyse the news five days a week, both domestic and international, in a digestible way, with humour and precision. More importantly, they play devil’s advocate with each other, discussing the opposing side of their argument. That is the key differential from their work at the BBC – they can clearly express their opinions. Using their journalistic experience, connections, and political nous honed during their BBC years, they form and argue their opinions on news topics, which under the BBCs impartiality rules, they understandably wouldn’t be able to do. It has made me challenge my own opinions, and look a little closer to those I disagree with, to understand why.

“The Coming Storm” by Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC Radio 4)

Laura Tindley, Portfolio Manager

If you, like me, are obsessed with US politics then you will have been gripped by the storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021, an attempt to stop the formalisation of President Biden’s election victory. Part of the effort to “stop the steal” was led by QAnon, an internet-based right wing conspiracy theory and political movement. Although the events at the Capitol were the first time many people had heard of QAnon, they originated in a dark corner of the internet in 2017 where an anonymous poster ‘Q’ claimed to have inside knowledge of the US government. Followers of QAnon believe President Trump was secretly fighting a ‘cabal’ of Satanic child abusers, whose members are part of the ‘global elite’. The podcast delves into the origin of QAnon, tries to determine who is ‘Q’ and examines how far the conspiracy theory has infiltrated the Republican party.

“The Prince” by the Economist

Robert Snuggs, Portfolio Director

President Xi recently secured a third term as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) General Secretary. Nobody has had that much power since Chairman Mao. The eight-part podcast traces the lessons the young Xi Jinping learned from a privileged but also difficult childhood and his rapid rise to power during China’s boom years. The Economist’s China correspondent Sue-Lin Wong talks to those who shared Xi’s background, people affected by the, often ruthless, way he changed China and officials who have seen him up close. A captivating insight into a character that is shaping current affairs.

Authors

Victoria Beckett
Editor and Copywriter

Topics

Perspective
Lifestyle
Dialogue

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