Private Empire (Penguin Press, $36) is Steve Coll’s masterful study of ExxonMobil, the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States. The company functions as “a corporate state within the American state,” Coll writes, and many of its inner workings are exposed in the book. Still, for all the book’s investigatory rigor and insight, it avoids coming across as an anti-corporate screed, instead offering a fair-minded, extensively researched and elegantly written report on ExxonMobil’s behavior.
In End This Depression Now! (W.W. Norton, $24.95), Paul Krugman addresses our current disastrous economic situation, explaining in blunt, often witty and always engaging prose what should be done to alleviate the suffering. Much has already been written about how we got into this mess, but Krugman’s focus is, “What do we do now?” Any regular reader of his New York Times column will not be surprised by his arguments. He thinks the government should be spending more, with a renewed focus on job creation, until the private sector is better able to carry the economy forward again.