Books read in 2002...
Reviewed December 29th by Jon. Well-written book by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward on the first 100 days of the Bush administration after 9/11. Woodward clearly had inside access to many of the principals. A good view into the inside of wartime decision making at a very high level. Much like Halberstam, Woodward provides insight into the characters who make the decision (although Bush at War is less tedious than Halberstam's writing. This is an interesting book to read in contrast to Halberstam's book on Clinton's staff. Fairly light, but worth the read. It will be interesting to see how history rates the actions and people described in Bush at War.
Reviewed December 24th by Jon. Friedman, a veteran NY Times foreign policy columnist covers the post 9/11 world. Freidman is quite familiar with the middle east and globalization (see The Lexus and the Olive Tree). This book is largely a collection of his NY Times columns immediately prior to and after 9/11. Friedman has a very definite point of view of the causes of terrorism and prescriptions to address it. The book is a bit repetitive (probably due to the nature of his columns), but is worth a read.
Reviewed December 21st by Jon. Timely and interesting book about biological warefare. Many characters in the book are in the new today as the debate over biological warefare and terrorism intensifies. A bit tedious at times but worth the read.
Reviewed December 21st by Jon. Michael Connelly meets Michael Creighton. This is an attempt by Connelly to combine a high tech business thriller with a traditional LA detective novel. It does not feature Harry Bosch - although it has some obscure references to Bosch characters and cases. An OK read. Not stellar but entertaining nevertheless.
Reviewed November 9th by Jon. Written by the son of aviator Wolfgang Langeweishe, author of Stick and Rudder, this is a very readable set of essays on flying. Langeweische has been a pilot since a very young age and he talks about a variety of topics - weather flying, ATC, accidents, etc. An easy read and interesting for anyone curious about aviation.
Reviewed August 24th by Jon. A very readable book by David Lamb, a newspaper writer who moved to Hanoi as the LA Times foreign correspondent. Lamb had also been in Vietnam for UPI in the 1960s. The book is about Vietnam today. It is nonfiction and is an account of Vietnam through Lamb's eyes. He describes the people, culture, and countryside and paints a vivid picture of the country. He also provides some historical perspective and a view of post-war Vietnam. This is a particularly interesting book to read following Up-Country - which also gives a flavor of modern-day Vietnam in a fictional way.
Reviewed August 17th by Care. This is a typical Halberstam book - thoroughly researched with lots of insight into the people who shaped a particular period of history. The book is about the 1990s and the Clinton administration. Halberstam describes the people behind the events in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosavo, etc. A good sense of a confusing time and an interesting picture of the people and attitudes that shape foreign policy. Reasonably good read, although tedious at times.
Reviewed July 27 by Care. Although written by a very capable author, this novel demonstrates an uneven experience of readership. While some of the characters and scenes in the book are totally captivating, this was not the case throughout the novel. Initially Enid and Alfred - husband and wife of fifty years- and their children: Gary, Chip and Denise are presented masterfully in a rich, truly believable and humorous manner. The unraveling of this family is not interpreted with the same focus and creative handling as they respond to the changes of their lives. The author hand-picked themes of the new world for awareness (do-it-yourself mental health care, home surveillance, parenting or lack thereof) yet these ring hollow given the superficial treatment of other areas within the story. The glimpses of brilliance are worth reading; however, as a whole the book did not maintain the equivalent creative standard.
Reviewed July 27 by Care. "Papa explains the war like this: 'When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.' The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens..."
This is a well written book and an excellent story told by a first time author. It follows the lives of the Karangalan family and neighbors struggling through the last days of WWII as the Japanese and the Americans engage in battle for the possession of the Philippine Islands. Three narrators each tell their own perspective of how this family survives the brutal circumstances which their family and friends are forced to endure. The rich Philippine culture is illuminated through the storytelling within the story as shared by the family members.
Reviewed June 24 by Jon. A good Harry Bosch story. Classic Bosch - about a 20 year old murder mystery in LA. Some of the old favorite Connelly characters. A bit light but a good summer read
Reviewed June 24 by Jon. Collins's "prequel" to "Built to Last". A good, common-sense management book about focusing on your business and driving outstanding performance. In retrospect, this is a very simple book. It is based on an emperical study of many businesses and tries to identify the factors that drive greatness. A must read.
Comments by Care. A refreshing prioritization of the value of having the 'Right' people in place.
Reviewed June 13 by Jon. A classic DeMille mystery. The book, however is more about the protagonist's journey up the coast of modern-day Vietnam and his recollections of serving in Vietnam than it is about the story itself. Nevertheless it is a good read. A must for those interested in modern-day Vietnam.
Warriers: Inside the Special Forces
Reviewed June 16 by Jon. A book about the Special Forces. Partially a Steiner autobiography and partially a Clancy book about the special forces. The book is interesting but it does neither job well. Some interesting content but could have been much better written. The book gives the impression of having been rushed into press after Sept. 11.
Reviewed May 25 by Jon. Bob Buck was an aviator his whole life. This is his autobigraphy and he describes his career from the early days of aviation. He flew DC-2, DC-3's etc across the atlantic, did weather research during WWII, and ultimately retired as TWA 747 captain. This is a very readable book and very entertaining. It is very interesting from an aviation perspective. Buck describes a career he loved and is infectious in his enthusiasm for flying. A great read for those involved in aviation or those just looing for a good page-turner.
Destruction: Why companies that are built to last
underperform the market -- and how to successfully transform them
Reviewed April 14 by Jon. This book is a modern popularized discussion of Joseph Schumpeter's concept of creative destruction. The central theme of the book is that societies advance by destroying the old and creating the new through the vehicle of capital markets. Foster claims that companies destroy and create at a slower rate than the market. He draws upon research as a McKinsey consultant and looking at private equity for insights into how to structure companies to operate in a more market-like way - i.e. to create and destroy at the same rate as the market. Very readable and some very germaine ideas.
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