The 5 Best Private Equity Books

Last updated: 23 November 2020. Private Equity is an exciting industry, characterised by strategic decisions, bold risk taking and a winner-takes-all mindset. 

Private equity books tend to come in three main forms:

  • Broad books which explain how the industry works
  • Private equity books which attempt to form a cohesive 'model' for a successful deal
  • Case study books which analyse the reasons why real private equity deals succeeded or failed

Beyond my top 5 private equity books, I've also curated some reading lists arranged by different learning needs. Whether you're the founder of a small start-up looking to raise some cash, or you're the principal of a leading firm - there's a reading list here that's right for you. 

The prices of private books can range from £8 for a short & autobiographical paperback, to £70 for a comprehensive textbook which explores most facets of this exciting industry. 

Some of the more expensive titles are included in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial.

Click on any title below to see the latest price from Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases which helps to support this site. This does not impact how I compile the list. Happy reading!

Download all these private equity books for free with Kindle Unlimited

You DON'T even need a Kindle device to download books

Here's a useful tip that will save you £100+ on private equity books. Sign-up to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial, which offers access to all titles for free for 30 days.

  • There's no obligation to continue with a paid subscription.
  • You don't even need a Kindle to enjoy - any device will do.

If you're cost-savvy, you'll already be calculating the savings you could unlock and the knowledge you could gain by downloading 5 books over the next 30 days.


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Introduction to private equity

Books to help you pre-interview, during studies or ahead of a transaction

In-depth private equity books for professionals

The most comprehensive analysis of PE strategies

Financial Expert tip: The hardcover versions of technical private equity books are in high demand! They can recoup up to 80% of their cover price when sold in good used condition.

Therefore if you plan to eventually sell back a title, your net cost could be as low as 20% of the cover price.

Click on the covers below to look at the used prices of these titles on Amazon to understand what cash back you could expect. 

Private equity books filled with case studies

Real examples, real details, real lessons learned

Books for investors in private equity & venture capital

Books to satisfy the curiosity of investors considering an investment in a venture capital trust

The darker side of private equity

Critical or challenging books about private equity to help you form a rounded opinion

My Top 5 Private Equity Books for 2020

Click covers to see latest reviews and prices

1. International Private Equity [Hardcover] Arthur B. Laffer



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Bringing a unique joint practitioner and academic perspective to the topic, this is the only available text on private equity truly international in focus. Examples are drawn from Europe the Middle East, Africa and America with major case studies from a wide range of business sectors, from the prestigious collection of the London Business School’s Coller Institute of Private Equity.

Much more than a simple case book, however, International Private Equity provides a valuable overview of the private equity industry and uses the studies to exemplify all stages of the deal process, and to illustrate such key topics as investing in emerging markets; each chapter guides the reader with an authoritative narrative on the topic treated.

Covering all the main aspects of the private equity model, the book includes treatment of fund raising, fund structuring, fund performance measurement, private equity valuation, due diligence, modeling of leveraged buyout transactions, and harvesting of private equity investments."

Who this book is for:

A comprehensive guide for those who are serious about immersing themselves in private equity transactions and best practice. 

International private equity is the book that brings together all elements of the private equity deal, management and exit process. 

Using real cases with incredible insights, International Private Equity is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to become more knowledge about private equity. 

Steer clear of the Kindle version - it doesn't render the detailed exhibits properly. However the better hardcover edition has a clean sweep of 5 star reviews on Amazon at the time of writing.

Whether you're new to the industry or you're an insider, you'll find a wealth of content in this book.



2. Venture Capital & Private Equity - Josh Lerner et al.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Venture Capital and Private Equity: A Casebook, 5th edition provides an understanding of the ways in which private equity groups work. The casebook builds an understanding of the key distinctions in the industry, and reviews and applies key ideas of corporate finance.

The 5th edition continues to explore a wide variety of valuation approaches; from techniques widely used in practice to methods less frequently seen in practice today but likely to be increasingly important in the future years."

Who this book is for:

Ideal for any student of private equity looking to build up their history of private cases. 

Whether you're pre-interview or looking to polish up on your PE history on the job, this is an excellent (and thick) volume which should deliver juts about as many cases as you wish to read about!

 



3. Barbarians at the Gate - Bryan Burrough and John Helyar



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"The battle for the control of RJR Nabisco in the Autumn of 1988, which became the largest and most dramatic corporate takeover in American history, sent shock-waves through the international business world and became a symbol of the greed, excess and egotism of the eighties.

Barbarians at the Gate recounts this two-month battle with breathtaking pace and flair, and transports back to the Wall Street empire before it crumbled, through the boardroom doors, into the midnight meetings, the betrayals, the deal makers and publicity flaks, into a world where - as Nabisco CEO Ross Johnson put it - 'a few million dollars are lost in the sands of time' "

Who this book is for:

The plot at the heart of Barbarians at the Gate is so shocking, so gripping and so incredible that you would be forgiven for thinking you were reading a fictional novel. 

But no, the shenanigans and plot twists that are detailed in this book did indeed take place during a violent private equity takeover 30 years ago.

Grab this book for an eye-opening and interesting read which will lift the lid on a side of PE you never thought possible.



4. Private Equity Demystified - John Gilligan & Mike Wright



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"This book deals with risk capital provided for established firms outside the stock market, private equity, which has grown rapidly over the last three decades, yet is largely poorly understood. Although it has often been criticized in the public mind as being short termist and having adverse consequences for employment, in reality this is far from the case.

Here, John Gilligan and Mike Wright dispel some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about private equity.

The book provides a unique and authoritative source from a leading practitioner and academic for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers that explains in detail what private equity involves and reviews systematic evidence of what the impact of private equity has been.

Written in a highly accessible style, the book takes the reader through what private equity means, the different actors involved, and issues concerning sourcing, checking out, valuing, and structuring deals."

Who this book is for:

Private Equity Demystified makes this top 5 best private equity book list as it's my favourite introduction to private equity for novices.

This is an excellent book to explain the players, the strategies, the winners and losers from private equity transactions.

Available in an affordable paperback, this title isn't afraid to throw a punch as it analyses the industry.

Expect a balanced and informed view, delivered in an accessible format. 



5. Mastering Private Equity - Claudia Zeisberger



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Mastering Private Equity was written with a professional audience in mind and provides a valuable and unique reference for investors, finance professionals, students and business owners looking to engage with private equity firms or invest in private equity funds.

From deal sourcing to exit, LBOs to responsible investing, operational value creation to risk management, the book systematically distils the essence of private equity into core concepts and explains in detail the dynamics of venture capital, growth equity and buyout transactions.

 

Who this book is for:

Mastering private equity is a book clearly written with a professional audience in mind. 

Blending content from both academics and practitioners in the field gives the book a great combination depth and breadth. 

That's why I'm happy to place this title by Claudia Zeisberger at #5 in my best private equity books ranking. 

 



Download all these private equity books for free with Kindle Unlimited

You DON'T even need a Kindle device to download books

Here's a useful tip that will save you £100+ on private equity books. Sign-up to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial, which offers access to all titles for free for 30 days.

  • There's no obligation to continue with a paid subscription.
  • You don't even need a Kindle to enjoy - any device will do.

If you're cost-savvy, you'll already be calculating the savings you could unlock and the knowledge you could gain by downloading 5 books over the next 30 days.


Get free access

The best private equity books are difficult to find in a crowded market


Private equity books

"Too many choices can overwhelm us and cause us to not choose at all."

Sheena Iyengar

When researching and reading through private equity books for the purposes of bringing this page to you, I noticed a plethora of useless and downright misleading private equity books online. 

Helpfully, their reviews were often lacklustre or downright terrible (such as 2.5/5). Another helpful indicator was if the book had no reviews whatsoever (implying that the author didn't feel invested enough to even ask their own mother to leave a review!). 

Still, filtering out these self-published titles took time and energy, and I sympathise with other students or fellow professionals who are simply trying to get a good book for their money. 

Of course, this page should help, I've done most of the hard part for you. You can't really go wrong with a private equity book on this page - however the perfect target audience for each book or shortlist will vary.