Nicholas Lemann is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he also served as dean. It takes a very erudite scholar to navigate us through the tangled and troubled waters of America's economic history from the World War II era through contemporary times.

Lemann focuses on three grand conceptions by Adolf Berle, one of the architects of the New Deal; Michael Jensen, who had a huge impact on the power plays of the financial world and the chaos it brought to millions of citizens; and Reid Hoffman, who founded the online professional network LinkedIn. The author says of them: "All three of these people have been primarily concerned with how business works and how capital is allotted."

Lemann also shines a light on the institutions, transactions, and networks that have altered and changed the ways in which government, businesses, and people work. He concludes that "the economy we have now is not doing a good job of generating social trust, political calm, or widely shared prosperity." We hope that Lemann will help usher us through the next grand conceptions and their important repercussions — perhaps even ones that do right by people, which he sees as an urgent need.