A well researched, well read book. I almost passed on this book based on the couple of reviews that pan the reader. How glad I am that I listened anyway. The book is well researched and, accordingly, has numerous quotations, even "starting in mid-sentence." The reader's change of voice makes it crystal clear what material is the author's and what belongs to the historical characters. I can't imagine listening without such a reading. An audio listener would miss much that the reader would know from the printed page. Just perfect.
Regarding the content, Thomas is masterful. Good biographies put the reader "there." Great ones put the reader "inside the subject." The best ones let the author's understanding of the subject explain how and what the subject was thinking, and the author lays out the rationale so the explanation is real and not mere conjecture. This is true throughout this book, from Bobby's childhood to his actions throughout the complex relationship with Hoover.
Nothing about Knight's background, what made him who he is. I was looking forward to hearing his thoughts given his success. This is a lot of "Know when to fold 'em", "Know thyself", "Prepare to win", "Sweat is better than hope" trite crap. And, even worse, clearly the publisher tries to aim at the business market, so the book is replete with attempts to draw parallels between "Knight's Nuggets" and the business world - just in case you're too stupid to draw the parallel on your own. Just kind of silly.
Mike Leach's book Swing Your Sword is much better and succeeds not only as being interesting to the football fan but also as being relevant to anyone's goal of leading a group. It was after reading Leach's book I started looking for books by and about coaches. The Landry Lombardi book wasn't as good, and neither is this one. Next up: Summitt's.
Excellent history from an incredibly capable manager and public servant. This man understands and demonstrates that strategic direction flows from a myriad of individual details. He is rare in that he finds a passion for both.
This book takes you into his thinking and the information on which he based his decisions without being defensive or trying to convince: It is what it is, here is what it was at the time, and here is what that led me to do.
His attention to detail and commitment to thoroughness gets a bit tedious at times for the casual reader, but I suspect future leaders and students will be glad the details of so many incidents are included. His assessment of others is pointed and frank but respectful.
This man has been vilified in the press. Read this and decide for yourself: villainous tyrant or patriot to whom the US owes much for his decades of public service?
Downside: A right wing rant that rehashes the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and goes behind the scenes with the Acorn affair.
Upside: Chapter 6 provides some interesting beginning points for more reading into the origins of the left in the US. I listened to that Chapter again after reading more about the Frankfurt School, Markuse, and Saul Alinsky. He doesn't say that everyone on the Left is a Marxist --- not quite.
Maybe it was the punctuated drama of the reader, maybe it was Breitbart's words, but this just comes across as a right-wing rant against anything left. Left is evil, therefore we on the Right must oppose that evil with all our might, using the media, the arts, all social outlets - just like they do - or they will win.
I prefer a little less hyperventilating against the Left, but I'm likely the kind of conservative that Breitbart would think is losing the war he is waging. He might be right.
A terrific book detailing the early personal relationship between Ike and Patton, the later personal relationship between Bradley and Ike, Bradley and Patton, the African campaign, and the European theater's operations. Drawn from scores of diary entries, personal conversations, the book gives a personal description the pre-war lives of each, of the time in North Africa, of the Sicilian campaign, of the Normandy invasion without Patton, of Bradley's Cobra push using Patton, and of crossing of the Rhine with unbelievable infighting among the allied generals, including especially Monty. What a complex love-hate-love-despise-admire-denigrate-on again-off again-on again relationship among these three (and other minor characters in this book, e.g. Montgomery, Smith, Hodges, Churchill, Roosevelt, et al.). Personal spats, tirades against one another, two against one, then a different two against the other one. The book gets a little tedious with the hammering on Patton's ego, and may make a few points a couple times too many, but what an insight into the personal relationships and into the personal experience of each of these generals in theater.
Compared to "Too Big to Fail", I found "On the Brink" a superficial recounting of the financial markets meltdown of 2008. It has none of the color and context of TBTF, none of the behind the scenes flavor. Paulson criticizes no one and walks on eggshells when discussing the actions of others. Even if you sensed some disagreement, his words carefully pulled punches: "Sheila understandably defended her agency." Read TBTF to know what the players *really* thought of other players.
I am glad I read this, though. It confirmed what I felt from reading the press accounts and TBTF: The Lehman bankruptcy was not the root cause of the financial meltdown, but avoiding it would certainly have mitigated the impact on the world markets. And it *could* have been avoided. Paulson to this day says it couldn't have been avoided, but it's clear even in this book that Geitner and Paulson expected early in the crisis that the government would have to rescue/bail out (depending on your political persuasion) Lehman. At the end, though, Paulson had so publicly said the government would *not*, that he painted himself into a corner, and he *could* not. At the time I felt we were lucky to have Paulson at Treasury. I think history will confirm that is not true. He worked hard, tried hard, but in the end, because (I believe) Dick Fuld was running Lehman, Hank Paulson let it go under. That wreaked havoc around the world. Too bad.
The book did have interesting insights into Paulson's interactions with both Obama and McCain, as well as the House and Senate leaders. Again, no insight into how he really felt about most of them, but interesting, matter-of-fact retelling of those interactions.
And I found the Afterword to be the best part of the book. Paulson thoughfully outlines the key issues facing the smooth operation of global financial markets.
In short, listen to this. But to get the "real" story of what was going on behind the scenes, listen to "Too Big to Fail."
As usual with Gladwell's stuff, a few interesting anecdotes and observations gussied up as "cutting edge" psychology. He certainly has a knack for turning a two page article into a book. Synopsis: we have an unconscious mind, it makes very quick decisions (in a "blink"), some are good, some aren't. Uh, ok, got it.
Non-chronological, meandering, and tedious. Read Ted Turner's instead, or Gerstner's, or Weill's. No insight into Murdoch's business style, approach, views. No real behind the scenes intrigue. Just a hatchet job on the man; none of his perspective. A real disappointment. I wish I had listened to the abridged version, though I see even it is over 6 hours long. Two would have probably been about right.
Fantastic business book. The deal comes second, first is a no nonsense, non-academic articulation of what business combinations make sense and why. So many businessmen end up successful through high energy, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time. Not so with "Ted". He is a natural strategic thinker, and he's brilliant at it. The personal side is also very insightful. An engaging book, full of humor and strategic insight.
In my opinion not as good as his first book. Post-American World rambles a bit, making first the main point covered much more insightfully in FZ's first book (capitalism, not democracy, is the path of successful nations' development), then moving on to a macro description of China (interesting), India (not so much), and the United States (very interesting). His fundamental point is more intuitive than profound: America is and will remain a great power, but other nations (especially China, India) will rise in relative importance. FZ has a rare ability to quote facts and data that support/refute such typically unsupported macro descriptions such as level of centralization / socialism, and one can't finish a book of his without learning some very interesting things about our world and the U.S. I always wish, however, that he would build on his detailed understanding to give some practical prescriptions for policy makers. He attempts to do so at the end of this book, but his list of "rules for a new age" is academic (go figure) and therefore seems more interesting than actionable, for example "Choose - set priorities," "Be Bismark not Britain," "Legitimacy is Power." Overall, I'd recommend the book, and I would strongly recommend his first, "The Future of Freedom."
Slow moving, manufactured drama, and often prose that is straight out of a junior college fiction writing course. Never realized are constant expectations that something big is about to happen. It never does. By the way, the title indicates only a subject of "oil". There is no exchange malfeasance here. Many things that could be interesting are never explained. Descriptions of the traders and action in the pits on the NYMEX are interesting but much too brief. Really, it's a simple story about how a commodities exchange got started in Dubai, certainly unusual but so are hundreds of other business deals that happen every year. The book just hypes up the action with banal treatments of beautiful women ("porcelain features", I was waiting for "heaving breasts" but luckily spared that one), private jets with paper shredders (wow), BMW limos (six of them!), champagne (Cristal no less!), mysterious photographs (oooh, someone's watching!!). With the exception of the traders' description and the Dubai description, just kind of silly.
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