Giant companies have become inextricably entwined in the way we communicate, order food, buy houses, and travel. But who are the people behind the logos? These new books draw back the curtain to depict the individuals pulling the levers at some of the past century’s most powerful organizations.

Binge Times

Dade Hayes and Dawn Chmielewski. Morrow, Apr. 2022

Netflix and Prime Video are no longer the only streaming games in town. Apple, Comcast Disney, WarnerMedia—even short-lived Quibi—all launched their own services within seven months of one another, and soon thereafter the pandemic hit, shuttering theaters. Two journalists cover this dramatic turnaround, surveying the Hollywood honchos who enabled the move from big screen to small.

Davos Man

Peter S. Goodman. Mariner, Jan. 2022

New York Times global economics correspondent Goodman draws a sobering picture of the billionaire über-class, here named for their attendance at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos in the Swiss Alps. Their distaste for paying taxes and ability to nudge global politics in an advantageous (to them) direction left the world woefully unprepared for the pandemic, he writes, and makes clear the need for a more equitable form of capitalism.

The Founders

Jimmy Soni. Simon & Schuster, Feb. 2022

The founding team at PayPal included such Silicon Valley royalty as Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and Peter Thiel, as well as hundreds of developers and product professionals who went on to high positions at FAANG companies (aka tech’s Big Five), and other software luminaries. Soni describes with “novelistic verve” (per PW’s review) the startup years of a company that ended up being the farm team for much of today’s internet.

The Lords of Easy Money

Christopher Leonard. Simon & Schuster, Jan. 2022

Angry about income inequality? Blame the Fed, suggests New York Times business journalist Leonard. On Nov. 4, 2010, its leaders made the decision to experiment with quantitative easing, a radical step that has contributed to massive individual debt and stagnant wages. PW’s starred review called this history a “timely and persuasive challenge to the Fed’s new economic orthodoxy.”

Nazi Billionaires

David de Jong. Mariner, Apr. 2022

According to journalist de Jong, the dynasties that founded BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen didn’t get all their wealth selling cars, but rather through WWII-era practices of utilizing slave labor, ransacking Jewish businesses, and producing weapons for the Nazis.

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