September 21, 2005

FT: Why bother?

As Lance Knobel will surely attest, the Financial Times is the newspaper you hate to hate. It has a great reputation, and everybody's read wonderful stories in it, but all too often it's thin and underreported. Recently the US edition lavished half a page on a profile of a famous-for-15-seconds reality-TV star in the UK, and today things get worse with the annoucement of the shortlist for the inaugural Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. Let's just look at the first three, shall we?

  • THE SEARCH: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture. By John Battelle.
    Excerpted, at length, in the FT. There's objectivity!
  • THE WORLD IS FLAT: A Brief History if the Globalized World in the 21st Century. By Thomas Friedman.
    'Nuff said.
  • FREAKONOMICS: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. By Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
    A classic case of great author, meretricious book.

I don't want my FT to push high-profile middlebrow books like these: I want it to go out and find something much more interesting and much less well known. Both Dubner and Friedman work for the New York Times: do they really need the FT's boost?

Posted by Felix at 02:20 AM GMT
Comments
#1

And why on earth was the award's longlist of 17 books kept confidential? Was it because they were even drearier?

There's a bizarrely high correlation between middlebrow taste and high achievement in the corporate world. The Davos crowd were always clamoring to invite Phil Collins for the soirČe.

Posted by: Lance Knobel on September 21, 2005 05:50 AM
#2

That Freakonomics is the most overrated book in history! And the authors are so amazingly immodest that it makes it difficult to read. The book begins "The most brilliant young economist in America..." speaking of one of the authors! and continues with lines like "Levitt is considered a demigod... he represents something that everyone thinks they will be when the go to grad school ..." I would be embarassed to read something like that about myself, but to actually write it is incredible.

"The Search" is pretty poor as well, and I wouldn't read anything written by Thomas Friedman.

Posted by: Andrew on September 21, 2005 06:09 PM
#3

...is considered a demigod... he represents something that everyone thinks they will be when the go to grad school ...

it's really difficult when people introduce you at cocktail parties this way...

Posted by: mike on September 21, 2005 08:05 PM
#4

- ah but you see this is French politics -

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on September 21, 2005 09:11 PM