Download The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return Audiobook

The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return Audiobook, by Mihir A. Desai Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Mihir A. Desai Narrator: Mihir A. Desai, Mihir A. Desai Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2017 ISBN: 9781538427859
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In 1688, essayist Josef de la Vega described finance as both “the fairest and most deceitful business…the noblest and the most infamous in the world, the finest and most vulgar on earth.”

The characterization of finance as deceitful, infamous, and vulgar still rings true today—particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But what happened to the fairest, noblest, and finest profession that de la Vega saw?

De la Vega hit on an essential truth that has been forgotten: finance can be just as principled, life-affirming, and worthy as it can be fraught with questionable practices. Today, finance is shrouded in mystery for outsiders, while many insiders are uneasy with the disrepute of their profession. How can finance become more accessible and also recover its nobility?

Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai, in his “last lecture” to the graduating Harvard MBA class of 2015, took up the cause of restoring humanity to finance. With incisive wit and irony, his lecture drew upon a rich knowledge of literature, film, history, and philosophy to explain the inner workings of finance in a manner that has never been seen before.

This book captures Desai’s lucid exploration of the ideas of finance as seen through the unusual prism of the humanities. Through this novel, creative approach, Desai shows that outsiders can access the underlying ideas easily and that insiders can reacquaint themselves with the core humanity of their profession.

The mix of finance and the humanities creates unusual pairings: Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope are guides to risk management; Jeff Koons becomes an advocate of leverage; and Mel Brooks’ The Producers teaches us about fiduciary responsibility. In Desai’s vision, the principles of finance also provide answers to critical questions in our lives. Among many surprising parallels, bankruptcy teaches us how to react to failure, the lessons of mergers apply to marriages, and the capital asset pricing model demonstrates the true value of relationships.

The Wisdom of Finance is a wholly unique book offering a refreshing new perspective on one of the world’s most complex and misunderstood professions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Author–narrator Mihir Desai reads with appealing style and emotional engagement and uses rich narratives from film, literature, history, and culture to illustrate how interwoven finance is with the human condition. The audiobook is a primer on basic economic principles, but…will reshape your views of financial practices that are too often misunderstood or dismissed as immoral.”


  • “This is a charming, provocative, and readable book. For non-financiers, it can be a great teaching tool; for financiers, it is a badly needed rap on the knuckles and perhaps an inspiration.”

    Financial Times (London)

  • “Desai gives humanists explanations of basic financial principles, such as value creation and leverage, with nary a numeral…A scene from Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon is used to explain randomness and chance.…Does valuable work toward demystifying finance for laypeople and deepening the art for practitioners…Will broaden and enrich any perspective.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Those familiar with the world of finance will have their perspective shifted, and for the rest of us, Desai provides a welcome entry.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A fascinating new perspective on modern finance, showing how the main concepts have parallels in literature and the arts. Students of finance will learn literature, students of literature will learn finance, and everybody will learn something.”

    Oliver Hart, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Economics

  • Longlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

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About the Author

Mihir A. Desai is an award-winning professor of finance at Harvard Business School and a professor of law at Harvard Law School. His areas of expertise include international finance, corporate finance, and tax policy, and his academic publications have appeared in leading journals. His opinion pieces have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Harvard Business Review, and he has testified several times before congressional bodies.