Reviews: Best Business Books 2022 – The Times

The Sunday Times book of the year

Butler to the World: How Britain Became the Servant of Tycoons, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals by Oliver Bullough

Britain, according to this damning book, is a land of dirty money. It has become the country of choice for dictators wanting to hide their cash, and oligarchs wishing to launder their reputations. Yet instead of waging war on this illicit finance, we’re helping it to propagate. Our national debasement is a sordid story, but Oliver Bullough canters through it with wit and such a colourful set of case studies that it is at least a little easier to stomach. His account begins with the Suez crisis in 1956, which Bullough pinpoints as the moment when Britain’s imperial power crumbled and the nation searched for a new role in the world. The job we chose? Playing Jeeves to kleptocrats. Since the Brexit vote there has been a lengthy debate about what kind of country Britain should strive to be; Bullough argues convincingly that we haven’t spent enough time scrutinising what it has already become. Ros Urwin
Profile, £20
Buy a copy of Butler to the World here

Megathreats: The Ten Trends that Imperil Our Future, and How to Survive Them by Nouriel Roubini

Nouriel Roubini is not known as “Dr Doom” for nothing, and this book from the economist who predicted the 2008 financial crisis is a bleak look at some of the horrible threats facing our survival on Earth, from economic collapse to a new cold war and the rise of artificial intelligence. But it is also an important wake-up call to how fragile modern civilisation is. Roubini lucidly lays out the challenges we face. Maybe save reading this until after the festive period. TK
John Murray, £20
Buy a copy of Megathreats here

A Pipeline Runs Through It: The Story of Oil from Ancient Times to the First World War by Keith Fisher

In this epic, deeply researched history of oil, Keith Fisher, who spent 15 years on the book, takes us from the Byzantine era to the US oil boom of the 19th century and the rise of barons such as John D Rockfeller, and ends with the First World War. He unsparingly shows what a great but terrible industry oil exploration has been. No one comes out well, but the brutality involved in clearing indigenous communities to open up areas for exploitation are harrowing, especially the cruelty from what would become Royal Dutch Shell. TK
Allen Lane, £35
Buy a copy of A Pipeline Runs Through It here

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