The second year of the coronavirus pandemic showed that the world isn’t slowing down any time soon, and neither is creativity.
From biographies of famous economic leaders to a retrospective of our nation’s response to the pandemic and a deep dive into the scandals of Nixon’s VP Spiro Agnew, there was no shortage of books that captured the attention of the Yahoo Finance staff in 2021.
Here are the top nine books the Yahoo Finance staff read and loved this year.
“This historical biography of economist John Maynard Keynes delves into the life and work of one of the most influential economists over the last century. Economies across the world — the U.S. most of all — have been built on Keynesian economics. The book explains why Keynes’ views on money and democracy play such an important role in how most of society works today.” — David Hollerith, Yahoo Finance cryptocurrency reporter
“It was Milton Friedman, and later Richard Nixon, who said in times of financial turmoil, ‘We’re all Keynesians now.’ After falling out of favor for some time, the ideas of John Maynard Keynes are experiencing something of a resurgence amid the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, making this canny biography of one of the most influential economists all the more compelling.
In ‘The Price of Peace,’ HuffPost senior reporter Zachary Carter tells the story of Keynes’s social life with the Bloomsbury group and his designs for monetary policy. No deep understanding of economic theory is required here to be swept away by the tides of twentieth-century events. Plus, four-day work week proponents will find fellow feeling in the man who predicted his grandkids would clock in for 15 hours a week (a gross miscalculation, as it turned out). A good portion of the book is devoted to tracing the afterlife of Keynes’s work, but Carter doesn’t let us forget the optimism and humanistic ideals that underpin Keynes’s broader vision for society.” — Grace O’Donnell, Yahoo Finance editor
“This is one of those books that has stayed on my mind since I finished it earlier this year. We’ve learned a lot about the Sacklers over the years through reporting, but never in such a comprehensive way like this book. Even if you don’t follow big pharma news, the story behind this family will certainly captivate you.” — Adriana Belmonte, Yahoo Finance reporter and editor
“I’m powering through Empire of Pain. It’s hard to put down. This is first-rate reporting, writing, and insight. Wow, what a saga.” — Andy Serwer, Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief
“Author Max Chafkin takes a deep dive into the life and history of billionaire entrepreneur and Silicon Valley whisperer Peter Thiel. The writer even travels to Thiel’s alma mater Stanford and digs up articles from the library’s basement of the right-wing newspaper he launched, ‘The Stanford Review.’ What’s striking to me about the book is the number of people who chose not to go on the record, out of fear of possible retaliation. A great read if you’re looking to understand the nuances of PayPal’s origin story and Thiel’s contributions to Trump’s 2016 election run.” — McKenzie Stratigopoulos, Yahoo Finance line producer
“As a Boomer, … Bag Man is near and dear [to me], but man, the parallels to now are pretty incredible. Curious how and why Maddow chose the subject [of Spiro Agnew], but who cares. Worth reading.” — Andy Serwer, Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief
“The country has spent a lot of time focused on the opioid crisis (and rightfully so) but as a result, drugs like synthetic opioids and meth have creeped their way to the forefront. Quinones conducts interviews with those in recovery and those who have lost loved ones to these drugs and explains how Chinese fentanyl manufacturers have been able to utilize Mexican drug dealers to get these drugs into America. A sobering look at our next drug crisis in the U.S.” — Adriana Belmonte, Yahoo Finance reporter and editor
“Indra Nooyi is one of the most distinguished corporate leaders of the past 25 years. But the road to reach the peak of her corporate career — chairman and CEO of PepsiCo — wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination as detailed in My Life in Full. In her new memoir, Nooyi recalls her childhood growing up in Madras, India (now Chennai). While Nooyi was always encouraged by her parents to seek out higher education, learning and to pursue her dreams, the social norm in India was the man of the household earns and the woman attends to family and home.
Nooyi chose a different path, however, in large part because of her own inner drive to succeed. Nooyi is quick to say she is thankful for the support structure of friends of family, which allowed her to continue to charge hard in her work.” — Brian Sozzi, Yahoo Finance anchor and editor-at-large
“Madam is amazing because it seems so long ago and yet it really isn’t. Research is fantastic and narrative pulls you through. And on the Upper West Side! Who knew!” — Andy Serwer, Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief
“If you think you know everything about Silicon Valley culture, you could still glean insights into the Valley’s weirdness by reading this memoir. Wiener left a job in the poorly paid publishing industry for life at a hot startup. She doesn’t name the place, but it’s GitHub, and she manages to capture the strange language and behavior of young startup workers without making fun of them. This is almost an anthropological study of the startup scene at a certain moment in time. But it’s also extremely well-written and uses a literary device that wo
rks extremely well. Rather than naming companies, she uses no proper nouns and simply describes what the company does: ‘the search engine,’ ‘the platform to make payments to your friends,’ and of course, ‘the social network.’ This device makes you think about technology in new ways and reevaluate your relationship with it.” — Erin Fuchs, Yahoo Finance deputy managing editor
“If you needed a reminder about how woefully unprepared our country was for a pandemic, look no further than Lewis’ latest book. ‘The Premonition’ features fascinating interviews with public health experts and former government officials and provides insight into the politics that plays into major health situations. It’s infuriating, but also incredibly enlightening.” — Adriana Belmonte, Yahoo Finance reporter and editor