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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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The most influential reading Back  
To celebrate 20 years of Finance Magazine, we have created a list of the most influential business books to be published in the last two decades. These works cover all areas of business and offer positive and negative portrayals of various facets of the industry. The one thing they have in common is the impact they have had on their readers.
To mark 20 years of FINANCE, we took the opportunity of polling our readers and combing through the 'Who's Who in FINANCE' archives, to produce a list of the top 20 publications over the past two decades.

Over the past 20 years, books on management, chronicles of big deals and biographies of leading business people have all taken their place on the bestseller lists. CEOs, journalists and consultants have weighed in on all things business, and unsurprisingly, management books are also a popular type of business book.
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Some would argue that works like Barbarians at the Gate and Liar's Poker don't belong on a list of business books because they are not about how to conduct business. But the fact remains: well-written nonfictional narratives like these continue to exert tremendous influence on how the public view financial exchanges and the world of business.

Barbarians at the Gate, which describes, in fascinating and minute detail, the story of the largest corporate take-over in American history, has become a classic account of greed run wild for business and non-business readers alike. It tells the tale of the leveraged buyout of the RJR Nabisco Corporation for $25 billion, and unlike many business books, it can rightly be described as a page turner.

Similarly, Michael Lewis' account of his transformation from a lowly geek with Salomon Brothers in New York and London to his eventual triumph at the bank as a 'Big Swinging Dick,' is a book which can be described as 'a cracking good read'.

Set during the heady mid-1980s, Lewis gives an insiders' view on the workings of investment banks at the time, and he makes the world of bond traders, and their outrageous behaviour accessible for all, including those who would have no prior knowledge of financial markets.

Books with an economic outlook do not feature strongly in the list, but a popular choice is Freakonomics, in which authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner offer a fascinating insight into the state of modern America through various statistics. If you want to know about how the name of your child can impact on its future potential, or why abortion has cut the US' crime rate, or more presciently for Irish readers, how estate agents are disincentivised to sell your house for a higher price, then this is the book for you.

Financial magazines also made the list, with one loyal reader nominating FINANCE magazine itself. However, it wouldn't be an accurate reflection of our readers' opinions if we didn't include another publication, Business Plus, which also got a mention!

Over the last 20 years, investing has been transformed from a serious profession into a national obsession and a favourite spectator sport. Publishers, of course, have caught on and are forever offering books with new tales of buying low and selling high.

An example of this is Robert Hagstrom's work, The Buffett Way which offers readers one of the ultimate success stories of investing. Warren Buffett started out with $10,000 in 1956 and has passed $8.5 billion and counting today. In the book, financial consultant Robert Hagstrom reveals many of 'the oracle of Omaha's' core investing beliefs, including, 'You invest in a business, not a stock'; 'Have a 'hands off' strategy': 'Have a small staff and no computers'. Hagstrom enables the reader to follow Buffett's secrets of success - but can anyone copy the most successful investor of all time?

Other investment books on the list include Jack Schwager's Market Wizards, which offers an insight into the techniques of top traders, and therefore unsurprisingly, is particularly popular amongst FINANCE's traders and treasurers readership.

On the domestic front, Siobh?n Creaton, a former FINANCE journalist, is a popular choice with her book, Ryanair: How A Small Irish Airline Conquered Europe. Charting the success of one of Ireland's leading brands, with one of Ireland's most controversial businessmen, the work gives an insight to the economic development Ireland has experienced in the past decade by looking at one of its brightest examples.

Ivor Kenny's Last Word: A Life Working with Managers, also makes the list. In the book Kenny, who is one of Ireland's resident management experts, describes his experiences working with managers from his appointment at the Irish Management Institute as information officer and editor of Management, through his swift promotion to director general, to his work internationally with companies and boards as a senior research fellow at University College Dublin.

Even JK Rowling's Harry Potter got a mention, with the voter arguing that it is 'more practical than most 'business' books and created a huge industry and vast wealth'. However, despite their popularity, there are many financial services professionals who prefer to avoid business books - one respondent to declared that he didn't read business books, as 'reading is for pleasure only'.

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