2020 Archive

December

Billion Dollar Loser

THE EPIC RISE AND SPECTACULAR FALL OF ADAM NEUMANN AND WEWORK
Reeves Wiedeman

An enjoyable read of a well-written book, I still spent most of my time reading it just dumbfounded at the set of circumstances that ever allowed this story to take place. A magnetic and charismatic leader who kicked off most meetings with tequila shots, WeWork was believed by some of the smartest institutional investors in the world to be the next multi-billion dollar star. It proved to be yet another over-leveraged shared office space real estate play. But the story is not about people believing a questionable business model could be something different than it was; the real story is how FOMO can lead to people believing the unbelievable, even from totally not-credible people.

Wall Street Meat

Andy Kessler

I could read this book ten more times, I enjoyed it so much. Not only is Kessler one of the great contemporary defenders of markets, but this book (written in 2003) about his ride on Wall Street from 1985 through the blow-up of the dotcom tech bubble is gripping drama, providing readers a remarkable glimpse into the old relationships between analysts, traders, and deal bankers. Written in defense of the need for Wall Street to provide capital access to businesses, it is neither self-righteous, defensive, or naive. Rather, it is a splendid bit of history juxtaposed with commentary – and that commentary has only grown in its relevance and urgency since 2003.

The Maker Versus the Takers

Jerry Bowyer

I don’t know that I will ever read a more exegetically sound defense of private property and free enterprise than this masterful and well-researched book by my dear friend, Jerry Bowyer, one of the most impressive economic minds I have ever been around. A careful and proficient talent for textual study leads Jerry to successfully make the case that what you are often told is the gospel view on riches is wildly off the mark.

November

America on Trial:

A Defense of the Founding
Robert Reilly

In a day and age where the true historicity of the American founding, and particularly the philosophical commitments that underlie it, is perverted by the establishment press and secular academy, Reilly’s book digs deep into the epistemological and moral-intellectual commitments that serve as the foundation for the American experiment.

Divided We Fall

David French

It would take a special kind of blindness to not see how divided our nation is right now – politically, culturally, ideologically, socially. David’s book maintains a commitment to the classical liberal order on which our country was founded, but suggests tangible and thoughtful ways to cope with our current divides, for the sake of preserving the union.

Blood and Oil

Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck

The last book I read by Bradley Hope I practically read cover to cover (on the infamous 1MDB scandal) – I just couldn’t put it down. Here, we get an equally gripping tale of Mohammed bin Salman’s grip on power in Saudi Arabia, his determination to secularize Saudi society, and the tension between his embrace of much of western culture, all the while relying on the status quo tools of violence and authoritarianism to enact his agenda. A no-miss book for those wanting to better understand world oil markets

The Upswing

Robert Putnam

A historical run through past periods of cultural and economic divide in America, and past periods of cohesion and reunification. It turns out, the values of community and institutions are a huge part of the prescription historically, and are sure to be a part of the prescription in the future.

October

AMERICAN ICON

Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company
Bryce G. Hoffman

When Bill Ford decided that Bill Ford was not the right man to lead the company his great-grandfather started a century earlier, he turned to the man who had pulled Boeing out of the ashes post-9/11, Alan Mulally. This decision would lead to Ford being the only of the big three automakers to avoid bankruptcy during the economic collapse. The automakers are back in the fire during this COVID economic moment, but from 2006-2014 what Alan Mulally did at Ford is a story of corporate leadership and wisdom that trumps almost any corporate executive biography I have ever read.

COUNTDOWN 1945

The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days that Changed the World
Chris Wallace

The passing of Franklin Roosevelt before World War 2 had come to an end did something that many people do not know – it left Harry Truman in the position of having to end the war, despite having been totally left out of the discussions as to how that may happen. What resulted in the months thereafter would, indeed, end the war, and also change the world.

TRIUMPH OF THE CITY

How our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
Edward Glaeser

Harvard economist and scholar, Ed Glaeser, penned this masterful work in 2011 on the greatness of urban life, and the economic, ecological, and cultural opportunities “cities” represent. The COVID era seemed like an appropriate time to re-visit this delightful treatise.