The Goldman Sachs Back-to-School Reading List

Whether you’re back-to-school, back from vacation or just eager to get back to business this fall, learning is a continuum. With this in mind, we asked Goldman Sachs leaders across the firm and across the globe to share which books they recommend reading this fall.


Jeff Currie – Global Investment Research, New York

24 SEP 2015

A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson
Having had the privilege to live, work and travel to many parts of the world for Goldman Sachs and to run a global team that has more nationalities than people, one of the many curiosities these experiences created is how people from other nationalities view the history of other peoples. This book is an interpretation of American history by British historian Paul Johnson. The author is far from balanced, which is the point of reading history interpreted by other nationalities. Even if you dislike history, it is a well-known story told from a different perspective which makes it captivating and enlightening. 

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts
This is a far newer book from late last year which reignited my interest in history by other nationalities. It is a biography of Napoleon by another British historian. Not only is the author a good story teller, but he draws on newly released letters which provide a somewhat more positive picture than I had before.  What I learned was the importance to see the world from another perspective.


Bunty Bohra – CEO of Goldman Sachs India, Bengaluru

23 SEP 2015

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
A colleague gave me a used paperback copy as a gift saying that it profoundly affected his thinking about life. In the book, the author recounts his horrific experience as an inmate in the Auschwitz concentration camp yet ironically strikes an optimistic tone. He then follows with a more theoretical treatment on how people internalize experiences and discover purpose. It’s a short but powerful read.    

Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
After reading the following excerpt from the prologue, I knew this was a must read for our industry: "Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile."


Edith Cooper – Human Capital Management, New York

22 SEP 2015

My Beloved World, By Sonia Sotomayor
I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to learn through other people's experiences. Most recently I was inspired by Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, a candid account of her personal journey from a housing project in the Bronx all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sotomayor’s story is an incredible example of what it means to take charge of your destiny and have the confidence to pursue your dreams.


R. Martin Chavez – Chief Information Officer, New York

21 SEP 2015

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies, by César Hidalgo
I found this book on the FT’s summer reading list. If you’ve ever wanted to understand economic growth in terms of information, networks, and complexity – or learn why order increases in our corner of the Universe, without violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics – read this book. It’s an imperfect synthesis, to be sure, but it’s beautiful and provocative.

The Divine Within: Selected Writings on Enlightenment, by Aldous Huxley.  
Did you know that Aldous Huxley, author of Eyeless in Gaza and Brave New World, became a mystic toward the end of his life? I didn’t. Huxley introduces Western skeptics to Eastern philosophy, synthesizing existentialism without the pessimism.


Pablo Salame – Securities, New York

18 SEP 2015

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel vividly injects life into characters long dead in re-imagining the story of Henry VIII’s pursuit of marriage to Anne Boleyn through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, an outsider who deftly accumulates power and influence in a treacherous insiders’ arena.


Masanori Mochida – President & Representative Director of Goldman Sachs Japan

17 SEP 2015

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Dale Carnegie and Dorothy Carnegie
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie 
The books introduce basic, yet extremely important and valuable advice on how to obtain and maintain the right attitude and frame of mind. This has been extremely helpful to me as a businessperson and as a member of society.


Stephen Scherr – Finance Division, New York

16 SEP 2015

Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
The biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The biography was the inspiration behind the musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda, which appeared at the New York Public Theatre and is now on Broadway. Having seen the new musical biography, Chernow’s book makes Hamilton’s immigrant story even more intriguing.


Susie Scher – Investment Banking Division, New York

15 SEP 2015

Revival, by Stephen King
Stephen King has been one of my favorite authors since I was in middle school. This one in particular reminded me of his earlier novels – The Stand, Cujo, and Pet Sematary. As with many of King’s novels I was drawn to the mix of thrilling darkness, well-defined characters, and building can’t put-it-down suspense.


Gregg Lemkau – Investment Banking Division, New York

14 SEP 2015

Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
Incredibly detailed retelling of the last voyage of the Lusitania.  Erik Larson unveils the story with drama and suspense as if he were a passenger on the fateful ship.  A unique perspective on a key turning point in history.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs
Heartbreaking true story about the incredible rise of a young man from a troubled neighborhood in Newark, NJ to academic success at Yale. Despite overcoming extreme adversity, Robert Peace could never leave his past behind and constantly straddled his two divergent worlds, ultimately ending tragically. Compelling look at race, class and society in modern America.


Joanne Hannaford – Technology Division, London

11 SEP 2015

Moonrise, by Ben Bova
I love Western/Cowboy films and science fiction. This novel has both. A story with interesting science + an epic struggle as the characters try to create a settlement on the moon. A page-turner. 

Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
This is my favourite Thomas Hardy novel. The imagery of the countryside, Egdon Heath is evocative. To such an extent that it is almost a character in this novel. I have read this story multiple times over the years and every time I am transported to this small, English village with the backdrop of the romantic, imposing heath. 


David Lang – Head of the Salt Lake City Office

10 SEP 2015

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, by Peter L. Bernstein 
A friend recommended this book to me knowing my love of history and what I do for a living.

Wrestling: On & Off the Mat, by R. Wayne Baughman (1987)
All 3 of my boys wrestle with the oldest entering his college freshman year as a wrestler this year. As a “wrestling junkie” I’m constantly searching for an “edge” and had heard this book is a must read for all involved in the sport. 


Darren Cohen  Securities Division, New York

09 SEP 2015

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel 
As a successful entrepreneur, Peter Thiel has applied first principles to build several industry defining businesses. Peter effectively challenges conventional wisdoms and redefines characteristics of game-changing startups.

How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt
Eric provides a unique perspective into the culture and design of one of the most innovative companies of our time. Eric’s insights and lessons learned are directly relevant to our business, informing how we recruit, innovate, motivate and evolve.


Sheila Patel  Investment Management Division, Singapore

08 SEP 2015

The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough 
McCullough always writes elegantly about real events in American life, and finds the this case including some fascinating info about the contributions of the Wright sister as well, otherwise lost to history! 

Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson 
I love science fiction and Stephenson's latest is a great beach read for those who like a lot of futuristic technology mixed in with a global crisis with their surf and sand. It is a thought provoking story on how well humankind would really cooperate in an extinction level event.

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