Good Reading -- January 2021
Philip C. Ordway
“I try to have nothing in the room that’s not about writing. It’s hard enough to concentrate.” — Robert Caro
“In a cable to Washington in 1944, George F. Kennan, counselor at the United States Embassy in Stalin’s Moscow, warned of the occult power held by lies, noting that Soviet rule ‘has proved some strange and disturbing things about human nature.’ Foremost among these, he wrote, is that in the case of many people, ‘it is possible to make them feel and believe practically anything.’ No matter how untrue something might be, he wrote, ‘for the people who believe it, it becomes true. It attains validity and all the powers of truth.’” (Source: history.state.gov)
Facts and Figures
There are more corporate communications personnel at Amazon (969) than there are journalists at the Washington Post (798). — Source: LinkedIn research in Post Corona by Scott Galloway
Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (And Many Others You Will Find Interesting) — This book fits well with the Pinker/Ridley/Rosling books of recent years in fighting our pessimism with actual data that supports optimism. This is also a beautiful book and one that is much needed these days. (This was a holiday gift from Bill L — thank you!)
Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity — I skimmed Scott Galloway’s other book, “The Four” about a year ago and I also read his blog, “No Mercy / No Malice” from time to time. This material repeats much of the material found there, and it would have made a better blog post than book. That said, it’s impressive that he cranked this out in a few short weeks during the summer of 2020, and it does have several thought-provoking passages. (This book was also a holiday gift — thanks, Mom!)
The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations — Daniel Yergin’s prior masterpieces on oil (The Quest and The Prize) deserved their accolades, and this book is very good too. It is stunning to think about how much changed in just a few years. There is excellent, readable history and analysis here. (Yet another gift — thank you Adam S.!)
What We Found in Robert Caro’s Yellowed Files — This series is the gift that keeps on giving. These articles — and the collection in his book “Working” is the best treatment of deep, expert-level work I’ve ever found. “The only thing that matters is what is on this page.”
Steph Curry Got Red Hot and Torched the “Hot Hand Fallacy” — Agree or disagree with these assumptions and assertions, the video (and the concept) are mesmerizing.
How Stephen Curry’s ‘organized chaos’ fuels his record-breaking career - and the Golden State Warriors’ rebuild — More Steph Curry material that will blow your mind here. Great micro-analysis of what makes it all work and what it takes to get to that super-high level.
What Happens if We’re Wrong? — This is Peter Bernstein essay from 2008 is another exceptional article from the archives (NYT, $).
How I lost my 25-year battle against corporate claptrap — One last classic from the archives. It goes well with the related and timeless classic by Harry Frankfurt.