PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)In a lesser narrator’s hands, the forgotten story of an eccentric Englishman who was devoured by his own compulsion might feel rather slight...But Knight spins a story that propels the reader gently but firmly to its ordained conclusion ... Much of it is in the telling. Knight’s amused scrutiny of postwar Britain, from sensational Fleet Street to rundown Victorian asylums filled with abandoned patients, layers detail on small detail to paint a powerful canvas. He immerses readers in the shadows of the Swinging Sixties, when all kinds of social experiments were breaking out.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Sebastian Mallaby’s sweeping and authoritative history of the venture capital revolution, from its cottage industry roots in the 1950s to its colossal influence today, tells an undercovered tale ... The Power Law is comprehensive to a degree that occasionally tests the reader’s patience, but Mallaby enlivens it by diving into the personalities, and the tensions, behind the industry’s evolution ... Mallaby concludes judiciously that \'venture capitalists as a group have a positive effect on economies and societies\'.
Patrick Radden Keefe
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)... among the revelations in Keefe’s tour-de-force account is the degree to which the Sacklers pioneered the aggressive advertising and direct selling to doctors of the US pharmaceutical industry ... Keefe whose previous book Say Nothing told the story of a hushed-up IRA killing in 1970s Belfast, brings to Empire of Pain the same coolly prosecutorial prose style, backed by voluminous research ... It is a long book and he walks a fine line between nailing down the facts and keeping the reader engaged ... But by talking to more than 200 people who knew generations of Sacklers, he brings to life the obsessive personalities and ferocious energy of some members.
RaveThe Financial TimesThe polymath American journalist and popular historian is an old hand not only at retelling fascinating stories but also at wringing every last drop of significance from them ... Johnson is a bit of an adventurer himself, sailing interdisciplinary seas to lay his hands on pieces of information wherever he can find them. But his material is genially attributed to its sources, and he has such a narrative gift that he deserves clemency. From the 17th-century craze for Indian calico to the speed at which the hulls of wooden ships rotted, it is all here.
PositiveThe Financial TimesIt is well-trodden territory but Dalrymple, a historian and author who lives in India and has written widely about the Mughal empire, brings to it erudition, deep insight and an entertaining style ... It is hard to find a simple lesson, beyond Dalrymple’s point that talk of Britain having conquered India \'disguises a much more sinister reality\'. Facebook and Uber usurp national authority but they do not seize physical territory; even an oil company with private guards in a war-torn country does not compare.
PositiveFinancial TimesWho is Michael Ovitz? reads more like an essay question than the title of a book but it is a good one, since most people will have forgotten the former Hollywood agent ... Ovitz’s memoir is a fascinating study of how one agency managed to alter the balance of forces in an industry, usurping the role of studios by cornering access to talent ... There is an absence from Who is Michael Ovitz? that somehow feels symbolic. The book has no acknowledgments, nor any mention of the ghostwriter — an extremely skilled one, to judge by the result — that Ovitz appears to have employed. No one is permitted to share credit with the star.
MixedThe Financial TimesAlthough often fascinating, this book is ultimately frustrating. It offers the promise of disclosing popularity’s secret but concludes that so many factors must coalesce in so unpredictable a way that, in the words of William Goldman, the Hollywood writer, 'nobody knows anything.' Thompson has huge enthusiasm for his topic and has amassed an amazing amount of material, including many offbeat and engaging stories. What he does not have is the answer. In a sense, this is wholly unsurprising. If there were a secret to hit-making, everyone would exploit it...This is not an argument for ignoring Hit Makers, but for tempering expectations: it is to be read for insight and provocation, rather than the 'aha' feeling a consumer has on encountering an unambiguous hit. One of Thompson’s appeals is that he admits to having sought a foolproof theory without success.
PositiveThe Financial Times...a murky tale that reflects extremely badly both on Cohen and on investment banks such as Goldman Sachs that enabled him ... Kolhatkar tells lucidly how Cohen started off as an outlier — a profane and disruptive figure who had no interest in economics, strategy, or even the companies whose shares he traded — and inexorably pulled Wall Street in his direction ... Cohen’s enforced absence from the industry has coincided with a tougher period for hedge funds. The question is whether humans can match computers: the growing force in finance are exchange traded funds, which mimic indexes and investment strategies at a fraction of the cost. He will be competing with a robot if he returns, and the robot has my support.
PositiveThe Financial Times...it has an element of light relief. There is none of the same savagery and open warfare to control the Roman empire. Instead, there is guarded political intrigue ... This is Harris’s 10th novel and he has mastered the hidden clockwork of suspense ... The moral message of Conclave, though, is somewhat less striking than the pleasure of reading it. Like one of Graham Greene’s 'entertainments,' Conclave treats a serious topic with a deft touch.
John le Carre
RaveThe Financial TimesThat is the memoir’s beauty. Apart from stories of a Romantic wanderer through powerful haunts it offers thrills of recognition as le Carré’s archetypes spring to life ... They may be half imaginary but they feel like truth.