Books That I Recommend

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?

OUR ENVIRONMENT:

Climate of Hope,  By Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope. 

As many nations and politicians have dropped the ball on correcting today’s Environmental Dangers, Michael and Carl describe how some 7,000 local governments have stepped-in to fill the void.  They focus on the far-reaching problem from a four-pronged perspective:  Business; Government; Philanthropy and Environmental.  Convincing business that a healthy environment works sure helps!  (A blog post, describing his book, is linked, as follows.)

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.  Related post on this book.

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.  Also:  Ike warned against The Military Industrial Complex!

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.  Why did the Government Bail-Out Wall St, and not Main Street?

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.   Relevant blog post.

NEW ADDITION:  Killers of the Flower Moon:  By David Grann.

This is a true story about a series of murders on the Osage Indian Reservation, in  1920s Oklahoma.  The case had been mishandled by various law enforcement agencies, including the small investigative arm of the U. S. Justice Department.         J. Edgar Hoover, Acting Director of the FBI, called on a former Texas Ranger, who went to work in solving the case.  This was the first major case of the newly formed, and now fabled agency.  An Osage journalist had questioned, at the time, whether the Court would consider the death of an Indian to be murder, or just animal abuse?

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-revie

GRIT:  By Angela Duckworth.

Throughout this book, Professor Duckworth searches for the answer to one of psychology’s most intriguing questions: To what extent are Accomplishments due to Talent, as compared to hard work? Are we born with the capability, or must we practice, or compete to achieve it? In essence, is it: Nature or Nurture?

During her research, Angela Duckworth has worked with, interviewed, visited with, or collaborated with: West Point staff and cadets; Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks; various corporate CEOs; Bill and Melinda Gates; college coaches; Olympic Athletes; other social scientists, and even her own daughters. This is not another of those Self-Help books; however, some of the lessons learned, by Ms. Duckworth, can make you a better: leader; teacher; co-worker; organizer; parent, etc.

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.

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 quickly-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

Foreign Affairs:

NEW ADDITION:  Monsoon: By Robert D. Kaplan.

This would be an excellent read for anyone interested in Foreign Policy, or perhaps Chess. Mr. Kaplan, suggests that today’s Atlantic-Pacific Ocean focus is outdated. A new Two-Ocean Policy is becoming more relevant—one based on the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. Besides China, Kaplan suggests that a rising India will become increasingly evident, as the two Asian Giants counter one another.

The world’s trouble spots—the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia—are all in, or near, the Indian Ocean. Also, with Energy Security currently of the highest importance, the two choke holds in the global transit of Oil and LNG—the Malacca Straits and the Gulf of Hormuz—are both in its path.

NEW ADDITION:  Asia’s Caldron, By Robert D. Kaplan.

This is apparently a follow-up to Mr. Kaplan’s “Monsoon” (cited above), in which he suggested that America’s strategic focus should be on the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, rather than the Atlantic. In Asia’s Caldron, he narrows that focus even further—at least, with regard to where the U. S. Military is most needed—to the South China Sea, which lies between Indonesia and the Philippines.

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.

Feel-Good Stories:

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:

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.

NOTE:  Please leave a Comment, whether you found a recommend book helpful or not, in your quest for rational knowledge.  TKS, CHEEKOS.

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