During my forty year career, I hardly ever read a book, and then only an occasional one which was work-related. Approximately six months ago, I began reading books from our County Library. So far, I’ve had great luck in my selections, and I would like to list a few of them. OVER TIME, I WILL MAKE ADDITIONS TO THIS LIST. If you don’t find one that might interest you, perhaps consider another!
GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH—TWO ALL-ROUND FEEL-GOOD STORIES:
Epic Measures: by Jeremy N. Smith.
Christopher Murray, a Harvard-trained M.D, with an Oxford, Ph.D. in Medical Health Economics, challenges the Global Health Establishment and wins. His tool is a data base of virtually every known disease, broken-down by country. The free on-line “GMD Compare” is linked, as follows: http://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: by Tracy Kidder.
Paul Farmer, a fellow resident at “Brigham” with Chris Murray (cited above), and Jim Yong Kim, vowed to “Save the World”, and they are working on it. Farmer and Kim, through their Partners in Health, also challenged the Establishment, and appear to be winning. PIH has taken top-flight health care to the poorest of the poor, in Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, and a Siberian Gulag.
THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM:
Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will improve our terribly complex, blatantly unjust, outrageously expensive, grossly inefficient, error prone system: by Emanuel, Ezekiel J.
Dr. Emanuel is a Professor of Oncology and Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act (derisively called “Obamacare” by the Republicans). program currently provides health insurance to some 25 million previously uninsured Americans. Dr. Emanuel acknowledges that any Health Care, or Insurance, System can always be improved upon.
When Breath Becomes Air: by Paul Kalanithi
A young neurosurgeon, who way about to take the next step, in a most successful career, has the tables turned on him. At age 36, he is diagnosed with lung cancer, and begins to face the hard reality, but as the patient, rather than the physician. Dr. Kalanirh, a lover of Literature, Emailed his best friend to advise him of his terminal cancer, included: “The good news is: I’ve outlived two Brontes, Keats and Stephen Crane. The bad news is that I haven’t written anything'” This book, indeed, is a wonderful, and compelling one!
ORIGINS OF HUMANITY:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari
A great historical and scientific explanation of Who we are, Where we came from, and How we got here. The obvious idea is to understand our past in order to contemplate our future. Namely, what We, as a Species, will become in the future?
The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future: by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
Two scientists have written a science fiction novel, which predicts what the Earth, that Mankind passes on to successive generations, might be like. We must change direction, in order avoid assured destruction.
Three Days in January: by Brett Baier
This book provides a most interesting combination: a biography of President and General Dwight David Eisenhower; the historical “Passing of the Torch”, from “Ike” to President John F. Kennedy; and a treatise in leadership at the very highest levels. Ike’s constant referring to our First President, George Washington, and the intentions of the Framers of our Constitution are provided as context for today’s political reality.
THE FINANCIAL CRISIS (4Q07 TO 1Q09): Two Books
Stress Test: by Timothy F. Geithner
Tim Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the beginning of the crisis and, then, he moved over to take Hank Paulson’s place, as Secretary of the Treasury during the First Obama Administration. The FRB-NY implements the Federal Reserve Board’s Monetary Policy.
Too Big to Fail: the inside story of how Wall Street and Washington fought to save the financial system from crisis–and themselves: by Andrew Ross Sorkin
Respected Wall Street journalist—as a reporter from the NY Times and morning host on CNBC-TV—Mr. Sorkin describes the crises from outside the Government, with numerous excerpts of discussions and interviews with the Wall Street participants
The Many Facets of Racism/Bigotry:
Freeman: by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
In this well-researched historical novel, Mr. Pitts describes life, in the Deep South, given the uncertainty of what life had become in the vanquished south, immediately after the Civil War.
Born A Crime: by Trevor Noah:
Trevor Noah uses the same whit, which he displays on TV’s The Daly Show, to describe the exploits of a Naughty Boy, born illegally in South Africa. He further provides a caustic analysis of the life of Non-Whites under Apartheid. Racism from another angle!
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, by Michael Eric Dyson.
Georgetown University Professor Dyson, who is also a Baptist Minister, explains to White America what it means to be black—truly Black, in America. As a sociologist, Dyson explains that, until we come to terms with our own racism, which has been stewing for 400 years, we will never advance as a Society.
Shoot like a girl : one woman’s dramatic fight in Afghanistan and on the home front:
by Mary Jennings Hegar
This is a very compelling story about one women’s fight, against sexism in the Military, first to become a pilot, then to be recognized for her capabilities in combat and, then, her fight in civilian life for the next generation of females to advance in all military combat assignments. At 5′ 4″, Major Jennings Hegar demonstrated that the little “guy” can, and often will, win.
The Plot Against America: by Philip Roth
Another historical novel, as told through the eyes of eleven year-old “Philip”, growing-up in a Jewish neighborhood, in pre-World War II America. The setting is famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, an avid Nazi-Sympathizer, defeating incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for the Presidency, in Isolationist America. The ironies with the current political environment abound.
Mankind, and our Sense of Humanity:
Tribe–On Homecoming and Belonging: by Sebastian Junger.
Tribe is a wonderful book, that calls on a number of academic fields, in order to describe Mankind’s search for a sense of belonging. Mr. Junger traces this Tribalism from Colonial America, the WWII London Blitz, returning war veterans with PTSD, the lasting psychological effects on rape victims, etc. His book “War” is also an outstanding, sometimes academic, journey into the minds and internal operation of Men in Combat. The outstanding review of Tribe, from the Guardian (UK) is linked, as follows: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/22/tribe-by-sebastian-junger-review.
War and Understanding:
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre, by U. S. Troops in (hen South) Vietnam, and Its Aftermath, by Seymour M. Hersh
Sy Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering, what I believe, was the very darkest hour of the U.S. Army. Elements of the Army’s Americal Division massacred some 550 Vietnamese old men, women, children, even suckling babies—for no other reason, perhaps other than “scoring body counts”. The Courts Marshall went nowhere.
NEW ADDITION: The Coldest Winter, by David Halberstrom
This is about “The Forgotten War” (as some Vets called it)–Korea. The story runs from the highest political offices, Truman, State, the Pentagon, to General MacArthur, who believed that he out-ranked God, and on through the chain-of-command, from generals to grunts in the foxholes. The politics of this War, including MacArthur being relieved–and rightfully so, makes for a compelling story of that Era. I had not been aware of the divisiveness within America–similar to today, which was caused by MacArthur’s quite quickley-deflated political aspirations.
Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union. By Stephen Budiansky
This story begins with the joint British-American Cryptologists during World War II, who broke the Nazis Enigma Code, and follows the feuding military factions, in the Battle of Signals (all electronics) Intelligence, and then some. As NSA was formed, in the 1950s, to coordinate the entire SIGINT effort, the feuding continued, but with another Agency, the newly-formed Central Intelligence Agency. Washington politics and in-fighting at its worst.
Against All Enemies, by Richard A. Clarke
When terrorists attacked America, using jetliners, on September 11, 2001, just think of the questions that Richard Clarke, the “Counterterrorism Czar” had to deal with: close our skies, land all flights, none leave or enter; what about flights in-bound from Europe, low on fuel; where’s the President and where do we take him; First Lady, VP; casualty report; get first responders rolling, and call for back-ups; close harbors; casualty report; etc. And, that’s just part of Chapter One.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
This book tells the stories of a multitude of people—victims of sexual slavery, non-existent health care, decade’s-long civil warfare, etc—who discovered ways out, and had the charity to, then, help others. You might find other, similar books by this husband and wife team of interest.
I Am Malala: by Malala Yousafzai
I actually read this book last year; however, it is just too good not to include. The theme–the importance of Education, especially for young women in the developing world–fits right in with Half the Sky, by the Kristofs, just listed above. Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for literally standing up to the Taliban, in Pakistan, receiving a bullet in the face–and a long hospital stay in London. Buy the book, if you can, and donate it to a school library near your home.
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Samson
A hilarious romantic novel about a middle-aged professor of genetics, with Asperger’s Syndrome, deciding that he needs to find a wife. So, he draws-up a 16 page questionnaire for candidates to complete. Need I say more? Bill Gates’ wife, Melinda, suggested that he read it, since it deals with the focused mind of a logically-focused person.
The Second Machine Age, Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
This book describes how today’s Technological Revolution, the Digital Age, is taking-over where the Industrial Revolution had begun. Now, as then, innovation often doesn’t necessarily precede applications, the two of which might come in either order or simultaneously. And in same cases, intermediate inventions or applications might be required.
Thought Provoking Books:
NEW ADDITION: The Journey That Saved Curious George, ByLouise Borden, and Illustrated by Allan Drummond.
This is the classic instance of the more interesting back-story, about how the little monkey, who always gets into trouble, managed to escape the Nazis. Curious George’s creators, Margret and H. A. Rey, both German Jews, took quite a round-about journey, with the manuscripts, while leaving in Paris. There are generations of older fans of the 76 year-old George, who might enjoy reading the story. My four year-old grandson, Henry, however, will have to read it to himself, when he is ready.
Moneyball: By Michael Lewis
In this story, the little guy wins. Once upon a time, the Oakland A’s, with one of the smallest budgets in Major League Baseball had a better record just about all of the other teams, that had bigger budgets, and paid players much higher salaries. They challenged the Establishment, using statistical analysis, in managing their teams. A great read, even if you’re not a baseball fan.
The Undoing Project: by Michael Lewis
This is quite a hilarious book, about two Israeli Psychologists: Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their ground-breaking work on decision-making theory: created the new field of Behavioral Economics; revolutionized Big-Data studies; advanced evidence-based medicine and more rational government regulation.
Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance
After World War II, many people from Appalachia moved-up, to southern Ohio and Indiana, searching for a better way-of-life. But, they retained their Hillbilly culture—extreme poverty, lacking job skills or a respect for education. Actually, Appalachia moved north with them. This is J. D. Vance’s personal story about how he escaped, gained a good education and began a successful career; but, he still shares many of those same Hillbilly values.
The Rothschilds, a family portrait: by Frederic Morton
The true story of a poor man, who sends his five sons to the major capitals of Europe, creating a global financial dynasty. There are many financial lessons to be gleaned from this book: the origins of global banking; the reasons for some of the most basic securities laws; business intelligence (Intel); and the relationship between commerce and politics.
The Hunt for Red October: by Tom Clancy
Yes, the fiction adventure movie was great, but the book was even better. American naval forces compete with Soviet naval forces to find and “destroy” (retrieve) a run-away technologically state-of-the-art Soviet sub. All the while, the Americans don’t know if the Skipper has gone berserk, or is trying to turn it over to us. Once again, the Pentagon wonders where Clancy gets his spot-on information.
NOTE: Please leave a Comment, whether you found a recommend book helpful or not, in your quest for rational knowledge. TKS, CHEEKOS.