I vote for Noble House

Nick Gillespie at Reason asks folks for their favorite business novels.  I vote for Noble House by James Clavell.   Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged has a great deal of influence on me, but that book is ultimately about government making business impossible, not about the conduct of business per se.  Noble House is a sympathetic and hugely entertaining depiction of business people being business people in as close to a libertarian environment as we might find (1960s Hong Kong) in the modern world.  Sure its not real business -- too much deal making, not enough productive investment, but it is a novel for god sakes, and not a seminar on the capital asset pricing model.

PS - Is there anyone out there who has read both novels and would rather hang out in a bar with Hank Reardon than Ian Dunross?  I didn't think so.

PPS- Personally, I think this business novel is good too.


  1. Doug Murray:

    I'm sure I'll get there. Halfway through Tai Pan right now and will probably go on throught the series.

    I made both my boys read Atlas Shrugged but they moved to California anyway.

  2. jon spencer:

    For me King Rat is the best of his books.

  3. Technomad:

    I read all of Clavell's books until _Whirlwind._ I used to adore his work, but since I studied China in considerable depth in college, I can see where he was making things up as he went along. Particularly in _Tai-Pan_ and _Shogun,_ the names he gives his Asian characters mostly aren't correct for the languages they'd be speaking.

    That said, I think Ayn Rand would have _loved_ Dirk Struan and Ian Dunross.

  4. TCO:

    If you expand the scope to include documentary stories, I would vote for When Genius Failed, Burn Rate, Barbarians at the Gates, and The Smartest Guys in the Room. Burn Rate is particularly good. I remember being appalled at the Firm by all the HBS lemmings, not even thinking, mouthing Lowell Bryant platitudes...