Manifesto For A Moral Revolution: Practices To Build A Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz

A compelling call for the leadership the world needs in these challenging times to be grounded in personal principles and practices that emphasise service and a commitment to dignify each of our fellow humans. Written by the founder of Acumen Fund, which as invested in many purpose-driven companies solving problems around the world, this book is full of insight and inspiration along with evidence that losing sight of these moral principles are the fastest way to drive good intentions onto the highway to hell. 

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Open: The Story Of Human Progress by Johan Norberg

Openness to others – meeting them, trading with them, learning with them – has always held the key to human progress, argues economist Norberg. What is particularly useful about this new book is his exploration of the rise of a populism that is based on becoming less open to others. He explores how many of the things that are now defended by these populists were themselves the product of openness, and sets out some bold ideas for building support for reopening the world.

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Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired By A Life On The Move by Nanjala Nyabola

The Kenyan writer, political analyst and activists looks at the world from the perspective of a traveler constantly pulled out of immigration lines for further screening because of the color of her skin. Full of powerful non-American insights that could not be more timely in a year when #blacklivesmatter has lifted fighting racism towards the top of the global policy agenda.

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Impact: Reshaping Capitalism To Drive Real Change by Sir Ronald Cohen 

Credited as the father of Britain’s private equity industry, in this terrific new book he envisages a world where “inequality is shrinking, natural resources are regenerated and people can benefit from shared prosperity”. If getting to that nirvana via impact investment seems far-fetched, he at least has an enviable track record, having been a venture capital pioneer when the UK sector was a tiny cottage industry. If nothing else, Sir Ronald believes impact investment will become a dominant force purely because it is a better way of investing and can provide superior, sustainable returns. On a granular basis, he details how the “impact revolution” can foment, reshaping our economic system, transforming government spending and the private sector through the creation of “outcomes markets” and distributing opportunity more fairly. A compelling read. 

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Reimagining Capitalism In A World On Fire by Rebecca Henderson

Even hedge fund billionaires and oil company bosses are now calling for reforms of capitalism so that it promotes greater equality rather than inequality, and environmental sustainability rather than catastrophe. Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson has written a timely overview of what this new capitalism might look like and what policy reforms are needed to get it there.

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The Nature Of Nature: Why We Need The Wild by Enric Sala 

As we increasingly understand the interconnectedness of planetary ecosystems, the value of conserving the wilder parts of our world is becoming as crystal clear as the most unpolluted water. Enric Sala, explorer in residence at the National Geographical Society, has dedicated his life to saving the world’s virgin lands and waters, and in this brilliant book he explains why it matters and how to do it. 

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A Promised Land by Barack Obama

A beautifully written memoir of the first years of his presidency. One-sided, of course, but with insights both on how to get things done in Washington DC but also how hard it can be to drive change even in the aftermath of a global crisis.

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Trust: America’s Best Chance by Pete Buttigieg  

One of the Democrat contenders to emerge with an enhanced reputation from the 2020 primaries, Buttigieg has written a forward-looking book that previews themes that are likely to become top of the policymaking agenda in the coming decade, and not just in America. The need to rebuild trust in institutions is increasingly recognised and the book is full of interesting ideas for doing it, including by promoting policies to increase everyone’s sense of belonging in ways that unite rather than divide us. Practical in ways you would expect from a former mayor, and Joe Biden’s nominee for Transport Secretary.

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The New Elites: A Career In The Masses by George Walden

The fish rots from the head. Former UK Conservative government minister George Walden argues in his memoir that the country’s woes can be traced to the tiny demographic group from which Britain’s leaders are chosen. Pointing at the seven major private schools whose products “pretend to be the common man,” pushing aside highly-gifted people of more humble backgrounds, this impeccably well-informed insider declares that Britain is “far from a functioning meritocracy,” dominated instead by a small coterie of well-born men. Their aim, he contends, is “not to raise popular aspirations but to exploit mass taste, mass gullibility and mass spending power for their own intellectual amusement, until they lose interest or something better comes along.” Walden, who describes himself as “lower-middle class) then goes further, proclaiming that Britain failed in addressing its two biggest problems of the year – COVID19 and Brexit – for “no better reason than that this caste is in charge”.

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Post-Pandemic: 12 Lessons In Crisis Management by Jonathan McMahon

Stand by for a tsunami of books about COVID-19 and the “new normal” in 2021. Jonathan McMahon, a former director of Ireland’s central bank, has got in early with his mostly insightful crisis-management book. McMahon, who had a ringside seat to the financial effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as private secretary to Financial Services Authority chairman Sir Howard Davies, formulated his book plan while crossing the Western Sahara on foot. Some of his 12 lessons may seem trite, starting with “No-one knows what is going to happen” and climaxing with “When we fix one crisis, we always create another”. Yet he sets the scene well for many books to come, utilising the author’s policy experience to offer key lessons from the pandemic for acting quickly before problems become unmanageable. 

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Post Corona: From Crisis To Opportunity by Scott Galloway

By contrast, Galloway has written a visionary book about life after the pandemic, full of bold predictions – many of which may prove wrong but will at least have helped us think through the big issues ahead. The business professor and serial entrepreneur is always worth reading, and this new book certainly hits the bullseye by describing the pandemic as the Great Accelerator, turbo-charging all the major trends that were already disrupting the world before the pandemic, from soaring inequality to the fourth (or is it fifth?) industrial revolution. A great read for any policymaker wanting to get ahead of the curve. 

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