ExxonMobil Profile Tops Steve Jobs Bio as Best Business Book Credit: Photo of LLoyd Blankfein (l), Steve Coll (c) and Lionel Barber courtesy of G. Villamil

It's been a good year for greed and naked ambition. And not just on Wall Street; readers were able to share vicariously in the pursuit for the wealth as well. A book that profiled the largest and most powerful private corporation in the U.S., a notoriously secretive company whose corridors were awash in greed and naked ambition, was named the 2012 business book of the year last night (Nov. 1).

"Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power" (The Penguin Press, 2012) by Steve Coll was named the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year. The award, which recognizes the book that provides "the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues," was presented to Coll by Lional Barber, editor of the Financial Times and chair of the panel of judges, and Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman chairman and CEO.

The book probes the operations of ExxonMobil to reveal the true extent of its powers, tracing its arc of influence from the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska to 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Coll triumphed over a field of strong contenders, including Walter Isaacson's landmark work, "Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography" (Simon & Schuster, 2011), which sold 379,000 copies in its first week on sale.

“'Private Empire’ is forensic, nuanced and extremely well written," Barber said. "It is the story of ExxonMobil, one of the world's most powerful companies. Through a series of compelling narratives, it covers Exxon's huge geopolitical footprint and its influence. No other book on this year's shortlist exposes so much information that we did not know."

Coll was awarded 30,000 pounds (U.S. $48,749), while each of the five runners-up received 10,000 pounds.

 Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.