Steve Coll's Private Empire named Business Book of the Year
2nd November 2012 - 10:37am
US journalist and author Steve Coll has won the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012 for his examination of US oil giant Exxon Mobil.
Coll, who is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and a staff writer on the New Yorker, landed the GBP 30,000 prize for Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, beating off stiff competition from biographies of Steve Jobs and economist Paul Volcker, plus three other titles.
The award recognises the book that provides 'the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues'. Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times and chair of the panel of judges, praised Coll's 'forensic, nuanced and extremely well written' book.
The prize was presented by Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’ chief executive, and Barber in New York last night.
Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power focuses on Exxon's development over a 21-year period, from the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, drawing on more than 400 interviews and thousands of previously classified US documents.
Barber said: 'Private Empire is the story of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s most powerful companies. Through a series of compelling narratives, it covers Exxon’s huge geopolitical footprint and its influence.
'No other book on this year’s shortlist exposes so much information that we did not know.'
Private Empire was up against two big-name biographies; Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's account of the Apple founder’s life and career, and Volcker, a portrait of Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, by William Silber.
The other shortlisted titles were Why Nations Fail by James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu, a study of the roots of economic power and prosperity, John Coates' The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, about people's propensity to take risk, and Michael Sandel's What Money Can’t Buy, which questions whether markets are morally neutral.
Previous winners of the award include Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo for Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty and Raghuram G. Rajan for Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy.