Book Review:Blindspot

This post is in continuation of my book review series (see here)

Blindspot” by Banaji/Greenwald is a book that covers the hidden biases of people.

All of us who drive cars know that every car has a blindspot-we just can’t see things that are in the car’s blindspot.

In a similar fashion,as humans, our biases ensure that we can’t see things that are plainly obvious to others.

This has quite a few implications and analogies in the investing world.

For instance, one chapter in the book is “The hidden costs of stereotypes” i.e. how our brains are misled by stereotypes.For example,in the Indian context, one would assume that a multinational would handle its tax affairs with integrity and probity.And yet, some of the biggest tax cases are against these august names (Cadbury,Nokia etc)

This book was the outcome of research conducted at Harvard and other Universities.As such, it has a slight textbook feel to it.

Would recommend this book to readers who have an interest in behavioral psychology.

Book Review:A bank for the buck

This is in continuation of my book review series (see here)

A bank for the buck” by Tamal Bandyopadhyay is a book on the birth and growth of HDFC Bank

I have admired Tamal for his incisive newspaper columns and he has covered the Indian financial industry for a long time (see this).

This book contains lots of interesting anecdotes (see this) which gives one a ringside view of the making of HDFC Bank.

One thing that stuck me while reading this book is how much “an old boy’s network” the Indian banking industry is.Everybody seems to know everybody else in the Indian banking sector.

Would strongly recommend this book to readers who want to know more about HDFC Bank and the Indian banking industry.

Book Review:Return of a King

This post is in continuation of my book review series (see here).

William Dalrymple is one of my favorite authors and his latest book on the First Anglo-Afgan war “The Return of a King” underscores again why he is considered as a master of his craft.

The book covers the events leading upto the First Ango-Afghan war, the massacre of the British Army (which included thousands of Indians) and subsequently the revenge inflicted on the Afghans by the ominous sounding Army of Retribution.

The book is extremely well researched and lucidly written.Its full of interesting factoids and anecdotes.For example, did you know that Ahmad Shah Durrani (who fought the third battle of Panipat against the Marathas) was invited to India by Tipu Sultan from Mysore?

There are quite a few tidbits of Raja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Sikhs.In a strange irony of events, he was the one who captured Peshawar from the Afghans.When the British annexed the Sikh empire, Peshawar came along and hence is now a part of Pakistan.

If there ever was a book which proves “History repeats itself”, this is it.There are disturbing parallels between the Anglo wars of yesteryears and what is happening in Afghanistan today.If history is a guide, it would be difficult for Karzai to hold on to power after the Americans leave.

Would strongly recommend this book to readers who love history.

Book Review:Tata Log

This post is in continuation of my book review series (see here)

Tata Log is a book on the various aspects of the Tata Group.It covers various events in the Tata Group such as the launch of Tanishq,the path breaking SCIP program,the tribulations of Tata Finance, the making of Tata Indica etc

Written in a very easygoing and informal style,this makes for a good light read and I was able to finish it in one go.

The author of the book is Harish Bhat,the Managing Director of Tata Global Beverages Ltd.Mr. Bhat is widely regarded as an inspiring leader and a terrific person.Courteous to a fault and chivalrous to the extreme, I had the good fortune to listen to him at the book launch.

I would strongly recommend this book for those readers who want to know more about the Tata group.