Book Lists

Reading Recommendations from Andrew Ross Sorkin, Larry Summers, and Nassim Taleb

Last week I posted book recommendations from six tech CEOs. This week, I also I curated book recommendations, but this group is different. Andrew Ross Sorkin is the author of Too Big to Fail and the founder and editor of Dealbook, a New York Times column dedicated to financial news. Earlier this week, Sorkin published an article detailing his summer reading list. He mentioned six books: “The Shifts and the Shocks” by Martin Wolf, “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson, “Money and Tough Love” by Liaquat Ahamed, “Age of Ambition” by Evan Osnos, “Overwhelmed” by Brigid Schulte, and “So Much to Do” by Richard Ravitch. I’ve highlighted two books below.

At The Boston Globe, Larry Summers answered questions about his summer reading list. Summers is reading eight books:“Sleepwalkers,” by Christopher Clark, “The Director” by David Ignatius, “Every Shot Counts” by Mark Broadie, “The Second Machine Age” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray, “The Rise of Meritocracy” by Michael Young, “House of Debt” by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, and “Lords of Finance” by Liaquat Ahamed. (Summers also revealed that he enjoys reading Brian Greene and Steve Pinker.) I’ve also highlighted two books from Summers’ list below.

Finally, Farnam Street posted reading recommendations from Nassim Taleb a few months ago. The list contains dozens of books, and I picked two. Enjoy.

[Sorkin] The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned-and Have Still to Learn-From the Financial Crisis

1[Sorkin] The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned-and Have Still to Learn-From the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

"The book, to be published on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the week of the financial crisis in 2008, is a surprisingly refreshing look at the biggest financial calamity since the Great Depression. Just when you thought everything that could be said about the crisis had been said, Mr. Wolf adds something new. This isn’t a tick-tock — the journalistic term for a play-by-play — version of the crisis. It’s more of an academic book. Nonetheless, Mr. Wolf deftly weaves together the components of the crisis, examining it from 10,000 feet up: globalization, monetary policy, banking architecture."

[Sorkin] Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

2[Sorkin] Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

Judith Shapiro, in a review in The New York Times, called it “a riveting and troubling portrait of a people in a state of extreme anxiety about their identity, values and future,” and that’s exactly what it is. The book helped me fully appreciate the Chinese aspiration for great wealth and power as well as the challenges and corruption that pervade the political system.

[Summers] Every Shot Counts: Using the Revolutionary Strokes Gained Approach to Improve Your Golf Performance and Strategy

3[Summers] Every Shot Counts: Using the Revolutionary Strokes Gained Approach to Improve Your Golf Performance and Strategy by Mark Broadie

[A] “Money Ball” type analysis of the game of golf. I’ve learned that it matters less than I thought it did to hit the ball far, and that I need to work more on my irons and less on my putting.

[Summers] The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

4[Summers] The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark

When the Globe asked Summers why he picked Sleepwalkers, he responded, "I thought it was this historically pregnant year with anniversaries. It’s the 100th anniversary of World War I , the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and the 25th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. I wanted to learn more of each of those events. I’m a strong believer in the farther forward you want to look the farther back you need to look."

[Taleb] The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

5[Taleb] The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly

The point that top-down development methods are great on paper but have not produced benefits ("so far") is a point Easterly has made before, heavily influencing yours truly in the formation his own argument against naive interventionism and the collection of "humanitarians" fulfilling their personal growth and shielding themselves from their conscience... This is more powerful: the West has been putting development ahead of moral issues, patronizingly setting aside the right of the people to decide their own fate, including whether they want these "improvements", hence compounding failure and turning much of development into an agenda that benefits the careers (and angst) of "humanitarians", imperial policies, and, not least, local autocrats *without* any moral contribution. Talking about a sucker problem. To put it in an aphorism, they didn't ask the people if they would rather get respect and no aid rather than aid and no respect.

[Taleb] A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes

6[Taleb] A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes by Peter Bevelin

We Sherlock Holmes fans, readers, and secret imitators need a map. Here it is. Peter Bevelin is one of the wisest people on the planet. He went through the books and pulled out sections from Conan Doyle's stories that are relevant to us moderns, a guide to both wisdom and Sherlock Holmes. It makes you both wiser and eager to reread Sherlock Holmes.

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