Capital Ideas : The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street. This was the first of Peter Bernstein’s readable and interesting books. A 2nd edition is on the way.
Aaron Brown, The Poker Face of Wall Street. Gambling, life on Wall Street, poker culture, and how gambling lies at the heart of economic ideas and institutions.
Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance . The rise of modern finance in the age of the Robber Barons.
Nicholas Dunbar. Inventing Money : The Story of Long-Term Capital Management and the Legends Behind It. “A substantial primer on the history of financial theory” and the best book on LTCM.
Tom Harford, The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor–and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car! Amusing applications of microeconomics to everyday life.
Charles P. Kindleberger et al. Manias, Panics, and Crashes : A History of Financial Crises. A classic, funny, “the best history of financial pathologies.”
Jonathan A. Knee, The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street. “The goal was to do deals, generate revenue, and be noticed. … whatever the cost, particularly when someone else bore that cost.” Are bankers the “greediest people in the world?” Is an MBA one of the “poorest educational choices?”
Burton G. Malkiel, A Random Walk Down Wall Street: Completely Revised and Updated Edition. Updated edition of an investment classic.
Michael Mauboussin. More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places. Short essays describing fascinating scientific findings, then develops and applies them to personal investing.
Perry Mehrling, Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance. “The best currently available general history of the revolution in finance that took place between 1960 and 1990: the essential ideas and disputes are explained clearly, with a minimum of mathematics and jargon.”
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I haven’t yet read Donald MacKenzie, An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets. It looks interesting, but I can’t recommend it till I have read it. It is on how the emergence of modern finance theory has affected financial markets in fundamental ways–as an engine that shapes them rather than a camera that reproduces their details.
Barton Biggs, Hedgehogging. War stories from the hedge fund industry.
Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance. 2nd edition. Bull and bear markets, though often based initially on sound reasoning, feed upon themselves to go beyond what facts justify.