March 10th 2020

The Lost Girls of Paris. Pam Jenoff

The Lost Girls of Paris. Pam Jenoff. 2019. ISBN 139781460398760.   Twelve female agents of the SOE (UK) are deployed to France in the months preceding D Day.  The author uses another woman in New York just after the end of the war who starts to find out what happened to these women. You walk through their lives and families, their training and then a series of adventures in France leading up to their betrayal in The UK, then capture and execution by the Nazis. Clear, concise and gripping this is a fine tale.

Bristol shops

March 3rd 2020

A Man Called Ove. Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove. Fredrik Backman. 2014. ISBN 1476738031.  A grumpy curmudgeon and how his life is turned upside down with new neighbours moving in. He is not social, is principled and helps others despite his leanings.  His Swedishness is evident and the humour is dry and timeless. Recommed this as a great holiday laugh.

February 28th 2020

Fall, or, Dodge in Hell. Neil Stephenson.

Fall, or, Dodge in Hell. Neil Stephenson. 2019. ISBN 9780062458735.   A story within a story.  The short story asks and answers what would happen if you just deluged/overwhelmed the Internet with masses of “fake news” with the intent to make readers more discerning.  That one does not end so well as it appears that readers, just did not care enough to separate “truth’ from items that reinforced their prejudices. The US breaks down into “civilized” liberal leaning areas and vast territories ,”Ameristan”,  full of survivalists, gun toting freedom protectors.  The larger story the author pursues is what if we are able to scan a person and upload it successfully to a “cloud ” so their “soul” continues after death?  He carries this thesis through to what would that “cloud’ existence look and feel like. How would this new society evolve in Bitspace?  What happens in and to our “Meatspace?  Lots to chew on in this part in truth Stephenson style.

February 21st 2020

The Hero. Lee Child

The Hero. Lee Child. 2019.  ISBN 9780008355784.  The author of many books including the Jack Reacher series has penned a thoughtful small essay on the hero.  He goes through some historical reasons why and how heroes emerge. Also he poses thoughts on how the hero story “improves/embellishes” over time. It is interesting to read how very similar hero stories reoccur in ancient through to popular literature as well as movies etc.  For those who follow the using stories as  methods in marketing , oratory, politics this essay will prove useful.

February 14th 2020

The Peripheral. William Gibson

The Peripheral. William Gibson. 2014. ISBN 9780698170704.  I recently “found” this book by our “local” but world famous sci fi author.  It reads well but as ever has lots of interwoven bits. It is very prescient of the world leaders and behavior we see today. Gibson does his usual job of drawing you into a dystopian future where the present is being affected by players in the future. Those who like Gibson will enjoy this. If you are unfamiliar with his work, this one is worth wading into.

February 7th 2020

Trillion Dollar Coach . The leadership playbook from silicon valley’s Bill Campbell. Eric Schmidt. Jonathan Rosenberg. Alan Eagle.

Trillion Dollar Coach . The leadership playbook from silicon valley’s Bill Campbell. Eric Schmidt. Jonathan Rosenberg. Alan Eagle.  2019. ISBN 9780062839268. A very timely book. Its a book that should be the basis of  every leadership seminar and a well read reference on all leader’s bookshelves.  As sports coaches ourselves, my partners and I see the applicability of high performance sports coaching to technology companies. Whether if its in a non profit board community committee or a business, these “lessons’ are applicable and very useful.  This book is deserving of the kudos it has been receiving.  I enjoyed it so much I read it in two session and intend to reread it often.

January 27th 2020

Play Bigger. How pirates, dreamers, and innovators create and dominate markets. Alan Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead.

Play Bigger. How pirates, dreamers, and innovators create and dominate markets. Alan Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead.   2016.  ISBN 9780062407610.   This book was referenced in Traversing the Traction Gap so I had to read it.  It is very good and specifically addresses category creation, which is something that wildly successful companies do over and over. The authors take you through a proven  methodology of becoming a category kind. ( For many types to organizations and individuals). You will appreciate the highly specific and recognizable examples used by the authors.  Unlike other books in this genre , it has the benefits of depth and thought coming from the experiences of four individuals.  It could be a life changing book for executives and individuals.  But you need to want to be more than better, you want to be recognized as different  ( Apple is not just better, it is different)

January 20th 2020

breaking and entering. the extraordinary story of a hacker called “alien”. Jeremy n. Smith

breaking and entering. the extraordinary story of a hacker called “alien”. Jeremy n. Smith. 2019. ISBN 9780544911222.  The fascinating story of a young woman , with ability, finding her way to conquer the world of hacking.  Follow her early days at MIT through employment by the US govt, then security contractor to forming her own successful security company.  The author weaves very interesting and educational book out of this life.  I really enjoy it when, a journalist does a great job like this.  You will learn a lot and get some great insights into building a company whats here  and whats coming wrto security issues.  Good cross country read.

January 14th 2020

The Body. A Guide for Occupants. Bill Bryson

The Body. A Guide for Occupants. Bill Bryson. 2019. ISBN 9780385539319.  The latest from one of my favorite authors.  As ever Bryson’s breezy readable style makes for delightful times.  He goes from head to toe and  giving just that amount of detail to keep your interest but not to bore you.  I was very interested (who knew) in his description of infectious diseases and all the trials and tribulations of the pioneers in that field of medicine. He has interviewed many knowledgeable people in order to give you the most up to date info.  Highly recommend this one.

January 13th 2020

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. John Perkins.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. John Perkins.  2016. ISBN 9781626566750.  If you don’t read about the international crooks you will not recognize them at home.  The author worked many years as an EHM. He was trained to go into third world or struggling countries to inflate growth projections from large infrastructure projects  ( Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Panama etc). These projects would then be funded by the World Bank and others and the country would be loaded up with debt.  . The money lent would go to US firms to do the work (of course some $  would find its way into select in country pockets).  The US engineering/construction company owners would pocket huge profits.

The projects would under deliver and the country would not be able to pay even the interest on these huge loans.  The US would pressure the govts to take on more debt, vote certain ways at the UN , buy more US products and so on.. The peoples’ lives would get worse not better. ( shades of the banana king and 1MDB )  If the govts did not play ball with US plans, regime change, assassination etc. would happen (Chile, Honduras, Ecuador, Panama.  Wrap a large disinformation campaign about this all.   You could not make this stuff up.  The author points out now that the same tricks are going on in US states with big projects and perhaps even in Canada.

A potent read, albeit the author is not concise enough for me. The story speaks very loud about the dangers of these large US companies, the military industrial complex and US policy.  Evidently China is following the same US playbook.