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Book reviews: Driven to Succeed, Dynasties of the Sea and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich

New book Driven to Succeed is a rags-to-riches tale, proving that with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work a man can make his fortune.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich
By Chrystia Freeland
Allen Lane; 352 pages

A lot has been written about the 1% and even the 0.1% recently, but not much as insightful as this book by the global editor-at-large of Reuters. There are plenty of vignettes of super-rich life, which are amusing, but more interestingly there’s also a good deal of insightful analysis.

The new plutocrats are bankers and tech geeks, who have profited from globalisation and the internet. Freeland portrays them as a transnational group with more in common with each other than their compatriots, schmoozing at Davos, TED Conferences and Upper East Side dinner parties.

She seems ambivalent about them – their noble philanthropy seems to be all too often driven by an arrogant belief that they can cure the world’s ills. The question left hanging is: what next? Somehow, the plutocrats will have to learn to live with the 99%.

 

Driven to Succeed: How Frank Hasenfratz grew Linamar from Guelph to Global
By Rodd McQueen and Susan Papp
Dundern; 296 pages

If you want a story that proves hard work and a bit of luck can make a man his fortune, then Frank Hasenfratz’s tale is for you. A Hungarian native who fought the invading Russians in 1956, he fled to the town of Guelph in Ontario. There, he started a small engineering business which became Linamar, a multinational and Canada’s second-largest car-parts maker, then handed the baton to his daughter Linda.

 

Dynasties of the Sea: The Shipowners and Financiers who Expanded the Era of Free Trade
By: Lori Ann LaRocco
Marine Money International; 290 pages

In this world of Google maps and killer apps it’s easy to forget what actually makes the modern world go round: shipping. This book is a fascinating corrective, bursting with interviews with some of the masters of the seven seas. One of the big themes is whether the old family shipping business can survive when private equity is increasingly interested in the industry. Interviews with the likes of Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, Norwegian inventor of parcel shipping, and private equity titan Wilbur Ross give the book real oomph.

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