BOOK REVIEWS


For the patient do-it-yourself investor, High Returns from Low Risk by Pim Van Vliet is a breakthrough book, in the same league as The Little Book that Beats the Market. In that book, Joel Greenblatt explained how ranking stocks on the basis of high return on capital and low valuation does...

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Srinivas Hebbar 14 April 2017
Professor CNR Rao’s life has been a long and eventful one. He has produced research papers by the dozen, met the doyens in science from around the world, received the highest national awards, including the Bharat Ratna, and a clutch of foreign awards for science. Yet, Indian science has not...

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In the previous issue, I reviewed an interesting new book by Harvard University professor Bharat Anand, The Content Trap. His short point: great products do not guarantee success. It is the connections between users, between products and between different functions that ensure their...

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There are several books on the history of Indian Railways, and they are of two kinds—either academic, heavy-reads, or coffee table books with glossy pictures, peppered with some text. The book is easy to read, quick to finish and to the point, as the present generation wants; yet, it sums up...

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All companies struggle with the simple question: How do you get noticed in a world of increasing clutter, make a sale and, finally, retain customers? Additionally, today, many businesses—from media to retailing — find themselves threatened by the digital storm. How do you fight cheaper, or...

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In India of the late-1800s, there was backbreaking poverty, occasional famines, and age-old cultural practices. But, by the early-1900s, major railway lines linked the ports to the interior as well as to the main cities and towns; steamship moved cargo and people along the coasts; and three...

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In 1997, executives running the debt collection division of Chase Manhattan Bank began wondering why a particular group of employees in Tampa, Florida, were so much more successful than others in convincing people to pay their credit-card bills. Chase was one of the largest credit-card...

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Harsh Desai 20 January 2017
When was the last time that you felt a little breathless after you finished a business book, as if you had just come back from a three-mile run? When was the last time that you felt a distinct urge to go out and buy the product which the book is about and the only thing that stopped you was...

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After Dissenting Diagnosis by Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Abhay Shukla (reviewed in Moneylife, 10 June 2016), The Ethical Doctor is another lucid exposé of the rampant malpractices in the healthcare industry.    The author, Dr Kamal Kumar Mahawar, writes about corrupt practices in India, but...

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Edgar (Ed) Wachenheim, chairman and chief portfolio manager, Greenhaven Associates, has written an unusual book. Common Stocks and Common Sense: The Strategies, Analyses, Decisions, and Emotions of a Particularly Successful Value Investor is a series of investment case studies on specific...

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Which was the best-performing stock in the US in the 25 years, following the Black Monday crash of October 1987? When Bloomberg-Businessweek went searching for the answer, it did not end up in Apple (Silicon Valley), or Microsoft (Redmond) or Berkshire Hathaway (Nebraska). It ended up at...

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SocialCops was founded by Prukalpa Sankar and Varun Banka; they were batch-mates at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. While they were interning with large investment banks, they learnt the importance of ‘big data’ and how “analysts in the financial sector relied on it to...

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Richard Thaler is the world’s foremost theorist on behavioural finance, a field that was developed by Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize-winner in 2002) and Amos Tversky from the 1970s. Most of them, and another top researcher, Cass Sunstein, have worked together at some stage or another to...

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In the late 1960s, the Hungarian psychologist Laszlo Polgar embarked on a strange experiment. He had studied hundreds of people who were considered geniuses in one field or another and had concluded that any child could be turned into a genius with directed coaching and training. He was...

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The first two chapters made me jot down: ‘putdownable’. Thank God, I continued. Sue the Messenger then starts to read like a detective novel. Each Smart-Alec chapter-title is followed by journalistic sleuthing, digging up dirt, exposing the filthy tricks bag of corporates—be they chemicals...

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Many have probably read how Sanjeev Sanyal, a thoughtful historian, economist and urban planner, has torn to shreds, Ashoka’s reputation as a pacifist. In case you didn’t, here is his story of the real Ashoka. In 274BC, Bindusara, son of Chandragupta, died. The crown prince, Sushima, was on...

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Winston Churchill was right when he said that democracy is not a perfect system; but until we find a better one, it is the best we have. The pessimists in all countries, including USA and India (the largest democracies in the world), will keep complaining about the failure of the system. This...

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Sumaira Abdulali 22 August 2016
To Amitav Ghosh, climate change is intensely personal and his own sudden experience of it has been so inexplicable that he hesitates to use it in his fictional writings, for fear of melodrama. Even now, while writing this work, he says, we are in enough self-denial and that The Great...

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Books that are able to describe successful businesses through a common theme or analytical framework are rare in India. This one (The Unusual Billionaires; Saurabh Mukherjea; Penguin Random House India, Rs499; 445 Pages) is an addition to that small collection. It uses the John Kay’s famous IBAS...

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This book is the third and last in the ‘Evolution of a Trader’ series by Thomas Bulkowski. I had reviewed the first two (Trading Basics and Fundamental Analysis and Position Trading) in August-September 2013. The third book is all about swing trading and day trading. Bulkowski is quite a...

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