Best business books

All the books listed for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

The Match King by Frank Partnoy

The Match King

Partnoy’s tale of the meteoric rise and bloody end of Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish industrialist who dazzled investors in the US and Europe until his Ponzi scheme disintegrated after the 1929 crash, is an enthralling cautionary tale of the recurring excesses of global finance. — Read the complete FT review


The story opens with the purchase of a 9mm Browning at a small Paris gun shop by a man named Ivar Kreuger. The next morning, the world’s leading bankers nervously waited to ask Ivar about some forged Italian bonds. Hours later, his dead body was discovered and the largest financial empire of the era collapsed.

This book traces Ivar’s meteoric rise from the obscurity of provincial Sweden, to become a construction mogul and then a global business oligarch. Ivar acquired match monopolies throughout the world and usurped J. P. Morgan to become the leading lender to foreign governments. His financial innovations resonate today. A self made media figure, he discovered and promoted Greta Garbo but also advised politicians, including President Hoover.

Was he a financial genius or merely a schemer? Did he really stage his own suicide? This book brings back to life one of the greatest swindlers of all times.