Culture

Disrupt Your Thinking Summer Reading List

The summer vacation period provides valuable time to spend with family, friends and to re-charge our batteries. One of the favorite summer activities is reading a good book. I have the great pleasure of recommending five books that will provide valuable lessons, enjoyment and insights.

 

Grant by Ron Chernow was selected as it represents the finest example of the importance leadership and character. The current sexual harassment crisis highlights the importance of character in business and government.

 

Raven Rock by Garrett Graff was selected as it highlights a sixty-year effort by the government to protect itself from nuclear disaster. Innovations in construction, telecommunications, computer science and organization were created as a result. Today’s challenge is superiority in quantum computing. How the government responded in Raven Rock provides insight into how the government will approach quantum computing.

 

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann. Much of what we know about America before Columbus is limited or inaccurate. Like Grant, it is important to know where we came from to know where we are going.

 

A World Without Mind by Franklin Foer highlights the threat created by big tech which is already integrated into every aspect of our business and private lives.

 

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert points to the five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly ended. Experts around the world are monitoring when the sixth extinction may occur. The predictions call for the devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

 

Grant by Ron Chernow

Grant is one of the most important figures in American history. He was one of the most successful generals in the history of warfare. It was Grant’s focus and character as President that healed the wounds of the Civil War. Grant was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow, author of Hamilton.

The author states that “Ulysses S. Grant’s life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don’t come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.”

 

Raven Rock by Garrett Graff

The shocking truth about the government’s secret plans to survive a catastrophic attack on US soil. Graff highlights “the eye-opening true story of the government’s secret plans to survive and rebuild after a catastrophic attack on US soil — a narrative that spans from the dawn of the nuclear age to today.

For sixty years, the US government has been developing secret Doomsday plans to protect itself, and the multibillion-dollar Continuity of Government (COG) program takes numerous forms — from its plans to evacuate the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia and our most precious documents from the National Archives to the plans to launch nuclear missiles from a Boeing 747 jet flying high over Nebraska.”

 

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann

In this book this Charles C. Mann alters our basic understanding of the America before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

Mann adds “Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand.

 

A World Without Mind by Franklin Foer reviews what would happen if ideas were extinguished?

Foer sees “in the past few decades there has been a revolution in terms of who controls knowledge and information. This rapid change has imperiled the way we think. Without pausing to consider the cost, the world has rushed to embrace the products and services of four titanic corporations. We shop with Amazon; socialize on Facebook; turn to Apple for entertainment; and rely on Google for information. These firms sell their efficiency and purport to make the world a better place, but what they have done instead is to enable an intoxicating level of daily convenience. As these companies have expanded, marketing themselves as champions of individuality and pluralism, their algorithms have pressed us into conformity and laid waste to privacy. They have produced an unstable and narrow culture of misinformation and put us on a path to a world without private contemplation, autonomous thought, or solitary introspection — a world without mind. In order to restore our inner lives, we must avoid being coopted by these gigantic companies, and understand the ideas that underpin their success.”

 

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The author highlights “why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept.