Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Non-Fiction Reading of 2012

It turns out I have two favorite books for five different categories...

Big Picture (Life and Death)

Winter Journal
By Paul Auster
I loved this book! I am four years older than the author so I understood all his ruminations, regrets and sorrows as he reviewed his life. I have not led half of an interesting life as Auster but I identified with so much of his childhood and adolescent experiences.

By Christopher Hitchens
An author describing the end of his life usually makes for a very depressing book. However Hitchens faced his death with courage and perspective. A book that very few, if any authors, could easily write.

Current Events
End This Depression Now
By Paul Krugman
Generally I find books about economics very daunting to read. However you won't need a MBA from Wharton to understand this book. Krugman explains, in plain language, what happened during the economic meltdown and his ideas on how to resolve unemployment and improve the U.S. economy.

Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent
By Edward Luce
Sobering view of the economic, education, government and culture status of the United States. In many ways, a depressing book as our leaders and ourselves have done a very poor job in addressing crushing problems now and more coming in the future.

Economic Meltdown
The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual-The Biggest Bank Failure in American History
By Kirsten Grind
Excellent storytelling and research around the demise of Washington Mutual. The demise can be laid to the housing crisis, subprime lending, poor management and inadequate risk management. Maybe the best business book I read this year.

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers
By Lawrence McDonald
Excellent inside story of the fall of Lehman Brothers. Anyone who is involved in Risk Management should read this book as a cautionary tale.

Inferno The World War: 1939-1945
By Max Hastings
Best book about the events, people and horrors of World War II that I have read! Many fascinating personal stories!

500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars
By Kurt Eichenwald
Excellently researched and written. Gripping personal stories of people involved in national security events after 9-11. But a very depressing story about the missteps and failures of the Bush Administration after 9-11, particularly as it related to Iraq and our handling of potential terrorists.

One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game
By John Feinstein
Feinstein is a great storyteller. He describes his experiences and feelings about various sports luminaries like Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and more.

Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever By Jack McCallum
Inside story about the selection and play of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team that is being called as the Greatest Basketball Team ever assembled. McCallum covered the team closely and saw its strengths and warts. He also provides details about the intrasquad game between the team headed by Michael Jordan vs. team headed by Magic Johnson

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Excerpts:Revenge of the Reality-Based Community | The American Conservative

"All during the summer of that year, an expansion of Medicare to pay for prescription drugs for seniors was under discussion. I thought this was a dreadful idea since Medicare was already broke, but I understood that it was very popular politically. I talked myself into believing that Karl Rove was so smart that he had concocted an extremely clever plan—Bush would endorse the new benefit but do nothing to bring competing House and Senate versions of the legislation together. That way he could get credit for supporting a popular new spending program, but it would never actually be enacted.
I was shocked beyond belief when it turned out that Bush really wanted a massive, budget-busting new entitlement program after all, apparently to buy himself re-election in 2004." It’s worth remembering that Paul Ryan, among other so-called fiscal hawks, voted for this irresponsible, unfunded expansion of government.

"As we know, McCain took a sharp right turn after Obama won the Democratic nomination. The Arizona senator abandoned any pretense of being a moderate or “maverick” and spent the campaign pandering to the Republican Party’s lowest common denominator. His decision to put the grossly unqualified Sarah Palin on his ticket was nothing short of irresponsible. Perhaps more importantly, it didn’t work, and Obama won easily."

"The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he’s barely a liberal—and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right."

"The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day. People will long remember Mitt Romney’s politically tone-deaf attack on half the nation’s population for being losers, leeches, and moochers because he accurately articulated the right-wing worldview."