Recent Books — The Legacy of the Civil War, The Power, Reinventing Capitalism, Imperial Twilight

  • The Legacy of the Civil War by Robert Penn Warren.  The book is almost 60 years old and still super relevant.  And demands careful reading, he doesn’t cater to the reader who isn’t willing to think or work.
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman.  No real surprise here — absolute power corrupts absolutely, regardless of who has it.  The book is solid but over-hyped.
  • Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data by Viktoe Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge.  Ok the very first example in this book pissed me off and I set the book down.  Talking about a cookware purchase, the author describes a magical future where some system knows all your preferences and purchase history and just magically selects the right item for you in seconds.  And this seems like horseshit as it completely devalues design, ignores the fact that some people like shopping, ignores the value of the shopping process itself, etc.  I just didn’t care enough to read another page.  The book gets nice reviews tho.
  • Imperial Twilight by Stephen R. Platt.   The story of the Opium War.  Well written and much to learn here.  And what a great contrast to the book above.  The pop business book spins some BS tale about how humans will behave.  The deep history book examines exactly how humans did behave and reasons about how that will apply in the future.  The history book is way more insightful.