October 28th 2019

Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How. The real story of west coast rum running. Rick James.

Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How. The real story of west coast rum running. Rick James. 2018.  The author of Westcoast Chronicles has put together a good local history book, a history that was kept very secret.  I grew up in Fort Langley and knew of Harry Reifel  with his nearby  three Bellavista Farms  one of which had a covered thoroughbred race track.  Harry, who became immensely rich at it along with the Bronfmans,  plays a pretty key role in the commercialization of the West Coast rum running, which had its financial centre in Vancouver and operated out of many islands, and bays in the West Coast.  The Chief Skugat, one of two famous boats left from the run running days is now moored near Fort Langley.  Some of the other boats from those days I have seen cruising in BC over the years as luxury vessels.  A great story and very meaningful in how the West Coast survived the Depression. Rum running supported a host of businesses pouring jobs and money into the local economy.  It was a hoot to read that many of the mansions of Victoria’s Oak Bay were built with rum running proceeds.

October 21st 2019

1963 – The Man in the High Castle. Philip K. Dick

1963 – The Man in the High Castle. Philip K. Dick. Picked this up after seeing the TV Series.  The Nazi’s and Japanese won WWII and carved up the world.  The story takes place in North America  which is German/Reich on the East Coast and Japanese on the West Coast with a neutral zone between.  Its quite a well done tale with lots of complex characters, plot twists and serious philosophical thoughts.   But it is just tenuously related *( with the original premise and most characters)  to the TV shows. Which makes the book a more interesting and different read.  Consider this quite intelligent science fiction.

October 14th 2019

why does E-mc²? (and why should we care?) Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw.

why does E-mc²? (and why should we care?) Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw. 2009.  Two English physicists/instructors (PhD)  have written an introductory text on the present theories of the elementary particles. They have been ingenious through starting with work of Newton, Faraday and Maxwell et al, then developing with Einstein  and the successive researchers taking the reader right up to the Higgs Bosun particle work. It is not a book to rush through but if you follow along the whole series of theory and relevant equations makes much more sense than before. They are clever enough to give the reader breathing space when getting into more detail.  Despite knowing the ending, you are pulled through just to see how this all came about.  Well worth the read.

October 14th 2019

The Prosperity Paradox. How Innovations Can Life Nations Our of Poverty. Clayton M. Christensen

The Prosperity Paradox. How Innovations Can Life Nations Our of Poverty. Clayton M. Christensen. 2019.  ISBN 9780062851826.    Christensen is the most respected name in  any discussion of innovation with numerous relevant books to his name.  ( E.g. The Innovators Dilemma). He turns his attention to how can you turn around poverty . Using his theory of Jobs That Need to Be Done, he reverses our view from providing infrastructure first ( Banking, Ports, water systems  justice, anticorruption etc) to what inhibits the day to day life of the common man. He provides many case studies from American history and modern third world entrepreneurs who had to “do it all ” in order to build their companies, and put in place the infrastructure needed.  and examples of huge failed projects.   His point of view just makes so much sense, his chapter of corruption shining a fresh light on the subject.   Very readable with his detailed  footnotes that are as valuable as the text.

October 7th 2019

Letters to My Daughters. Business advice for entrepreneurs. Linda Hollyer.

Letters to My Daughters. Business advice for entrepreneurs. Linda Hollyer. 2018. ISBN 9781775393207.  I was gifted this book and am so glad to have received it.  The lessons are familiar but they all bear repeating. For any business person the key insight is the woman to woman view, whether it is the questions or the clarity of the answers.  The book is inspiring (as the author intended) and a very easy read. But it is still powerful.

September 30th 2019

The Fifth Risk. Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk. Michael Lewis. 2018. ISBN 9781324002642. From the highly acclaimed author of books such Moneyball comes a revealing discussion of how and where the Trump administration is creating huge risks inside the US Federal Government. The fifth risk is project management and in department after department the no nothing attitudes of political appointments is weakening those institutions that guard the safety of Americans every day.  The book starts by showing how little the Trump administration was interested in finding out how each department ran, what it was responsible for and its impact.  You learn about how the Department of Energy oversees the vast volumes of nuclear waste in the US and how much the safety of residents depends on this work.  A really big part of the Department of Commerce manages the US weather service and how it has now been put under the thumb of commercial companies vs public safety.  The list goes on and on.  This is a problem of the administrations own creation and it only gets worse. Problems do not go away if you chose to ignore and not learn about them.  As ever the author writes a very readable book that makes sense and draws you right through it.  I was astonished to find that the bulk of Americans really know so little about the hard work that these departments do.

September 23rd 2019

the four. The hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google. Scott Galloway.

the four. The hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google. Scott Galloway. 2017. ISBN 9780735213661. The author has been around the tech block ,  building and selling companies ( with some failures too), consulting and teaching  This is one of the clearer analysis of what is driving the growth of these four companies, where it is going ( has gone) and what might the future bring, not always good.  The book will bring no joy to the fanboys of these particular companies ( Or will they, when facing ideas/facts that dispute their beliefs cause them to double down?). However if you wish to be enlightened/learn about the major “winners” in the tech world, you should read this book   Concise, well written and organized ( well until the very end when the author goes into ideas of what you could/might do) I stuck with the book in about two sittings.

September 9th 2019

Fear. Trump in the White House. Bob Woodward.

Fear. Trump in the White House. Bob Woodward. 2018.  After all the interviews and TV news about this book , I was pleasantly surprised to still find a lot of info that was not made into sound bite fodder. As a journalist the author writes a clear and concise story that pulls you through to the end.   I have always had respect for Woodward’s work, his credentials and impact. Nothing has dissuaded me that that this book is not speaking the truth.  Trump comes off exactly as he is in public, an egotistic lying sociopath,  perfect for today’s politician and in many ways his own worst enemy.  As watchers in Canada we were always concerned from  Day 1 that this administration was not prepared for the job that was taken on and  Trump was way out of his depth. The book does not dissuade you from this.  This book will not bring you peace or comfort, but I still suggest one needs to read it.

September 2nd 2019

Dewey Andreas Series. Ben Coes

Dewey Andreas Series. Ben Coes.  Current thriller/espionage series ( 8 in all) in the style of Michael Flynn and others.  Power  Down sets the stage and the backstory and the series adds on from there. America is under attack and each book covers a different key actor who is driving it. From Muslim , Iran, China , Russia , North Korea, and even some internal US players pretty well everyone gets into the act.  And always in the end, All American Seal, Delta Dewey Andreas saves the day  while getting in and out of serious death defying situations. There seems an unending appetite for these rah rah America home and builder of the tough warrior novels where the weapons are described in agonizing detail as are  the planes, helios and what have you.  The yarns move  quickly and just stretch beyond credibility. But the stories will hold your attention and are an escape from business books.  Be warned that the point of view of all the books is that there are bad actors including jihadists around every corner that need to be terminated with bullets, knives and explosives.

August 26th 2019

Neil Gaiman . American Gods and Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman . American Gods and Neverwhere. And now for something completely different. American Gods was a tv series that was a more than a bit on the weird side.  Gaiman has taken quite an interest in the old Gods and posed questions like what if they were real, never left and now reside beside us or live underground and are somewhat diabolical still. Somewhat tongue in cheek dialogue with pretty good pacing to the stories. Not everyone’s cup of tea but if you liked Lovecraft in days past you may enjoy these tales.  Gaiman has several books along these lines plus a good treatise on Norse mythology.