Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets: Sudhir Venkatesh
This is a great book. If you read Freakonomics, you might remember Sudhir Venkatesh’s collaboration with Steven Levitt on the gang leader’s books. Venkatesh got the books after spending six years in the worst Chicago projects working with the Black Kings gang.
This is a story that shows the vicious circle many of our youth are trapped in. and the self-reflection of Venkatesh — at the time a poor sociology grad student.
Marc Andreessen suggested I read this book. I bought it 100% due to his recommendation and now I heartedly endorse it to others.
Finally completed House of Rothschild – Money’s Prophets (1798 – 1848) by Niall Ferguson. This is another of a long line of great books by Ferguson (I’ll pretty much read anything he writes — I find all his books pushing me to think in new ways).
Like most Ferguson books, House of Rothschild is not a book that can be read quickly. and it is big and fat … so it is hard to take with you on a trip (this is the book that makes me want to have a kindle). But i highly recommend it as it details the raise of the Rothschilds — the most important banking house in the 1800s.
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
By Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
Ori Brafman’s last book, Starfish and the Spider, captured how decentralized organizations work. it was a really interesting book and a good business read.
Sway is even better. I got an advanced copy from Ori and I highly recommend reading it when it is out (June 3, 2008). Sway gives you a sense of how people make decisions and how most decisions are highly irrational. In fact, Sway is a really good book for debunking the myth that we should trust our gut. In Sway, we learn that the gut is right about as often as throwing darts.
Sway is also a quick read and extremely well written (in true Malcolm Gladwell-esque form). I highly recommend this book.
just finished: Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson via Audible.
a book about a rebel and nonconformist who changed the world. while the extreme of going-against-the-grain (a la Unabomber) is bad for society, sometimes the extreme conformist (a la Nazi soldier) can be just as bad. einstein did his best to think for himself and not let others think for him. this, in my opinion, is one of the most important and admirable traits someone can have.
Isaacson does a great job of bringing Einstein to life. I haven’t yet read Isaacson’s book on Ben Franklin but a long time ago i read The Wise Men — a book he wrote with Evan Thomas (about six people in post WWII America that changed our foreign policy outlook — two of those six people (Lovett and McCloy) remain heroes of mine today) which is one of my all-time favorites.
The Math Gene
How Mathematical Thinking Evolved and Why Numbers Are Like Gossip
by Keith Devlin
Professor Keith Devlin is really interesting. i’ve gotten to know him over the last two years and have always enjoyed his analysis of science, math, and public policy. Devlin’s book, The Math Gene, is a joy. (it is also a small book … very easy for plane travel)
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan
finally finished this book. the second half was definitely better than the autobiographical first half. it is especially interesting to see what one of the world’s most influential people over the last two decades thinks.
King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild
this is a must read for anyone that wants to understand Africa. The book is about the forming of the Congo and one man’s (King Leopold of Belgium) narcissistic quest, following all Machiavelli’s rules, to build himself an empire.