The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

The Making of the Atomic BombThe Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Great book mixing science, history and politics. The story goes back to understand the science (and the struggle to find the right path and understanding). It also helps you appreciate the way scientists work. It is a thick book, but very rewarding for its insights.

This was a major development in science, but Rhodes downplays it’s military importance. During the way it was speculation on how far along the various countries were in developing an atomic weapon. When the war ended it was clearer that the countries were much farther behind. Rhodes also writes about that time when only Japan is still fighting and the leaders in the U.S. are trying to decide how to bring the war to a quick end.

The atomic bond was terrible but so was the incendiary bombing in cities such as Dresden and Tokyo. Those bombings killed tens of thousands of people too. In the decisions of which cities might be bombed with an atomic bomb, those targets were chosen partially on cities that had not been bombed with incendiaries.

Rhodes book stop with the bombing of Nagasaki, but the book discusses how the scientists were already far along on the development of the thermonuclear bomb. The development of atomic weapons shows just how terrible the rise of Hitler and Nazism was viewed across the world. It was evil that must be stopped.

Books — Aug 2015

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Because this book was so groundbreaking when it published and it has inspired others, it’s hard to appreciate it. The story is told in a powerful voice over a shocking crime by two people who also have an interesting back story. It doesn’t excuse what they did, but shows this crime was the result of bad information, misguided ideas and dreams. The murder of the Clutter forever changed many lives. One should read the book as based on a true story, since there have been questions about the license Capote took in improving the storytelling. Despite the reservations it is still a great book

Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild Frontier

Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America’s Wild Frontier by Stephen E. Ambrose

It’s a wonderful adventure tale. It’s hard to believe how Lewis & Clark’s expedition had faded from history the first 100 years

Reamde

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

The story moved too slowly for me, but it was still compelling enough to get to the end. I put it down for awhile, but was so close to the end, that it didn’t matter if I mixed up the characters at the end

Good overview of some risks modern armies face against today’s technology and cyberwar. I always appreciate a book that offers readers ways to learn more about the topics.

I’m more used to this genre thanks to Tom Clancy, so it’s harder to get as excited about a book following that path. But it does remind us that regardless of the technology, in the end it comes down to people, sometimes acting independently.

At the end of the book, I felt unsettled, because the threats so strongly identified in the book still exist today.

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by P.W. Singer

Good overview of some risks modern armies face against today’s technology and cyberwar. I always appreciate a book that offers readers ways to learn more about the topics.

I’m more used to this genre thanks to Tom Clancy, so it’s harder to get as excited about a book following that path. But it does remind us that regardless of the technology, in the end it comes down to people, sometimes acting independently.

At the end of the book, I felt unsettled, because the threats so strongly identified in the book still exist today

The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The story of what the Wright Brothers did in 1903 is well known, but McCullough tells more. Especially interesting was the time after their first flight. They did not build a huge corporation after their flight. Their actions show being first to market does not always guarantee success. Business is very different than solving the issues of powered flight.


Books — July 2015

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful book. It makes me appreciate the talent of the movie makers more because they captured so much of the wonderful stuff and weren’t tempted by some of the minor stories in the book.

  

Dance of the Reptiles: Selected ColumnsDance of the Reptiles: Selected Columns by Carl Hiaasen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

  
  
  
  
  

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s eerie how this book’s tale feels as if it could happen so easily. A little nudge here or an overreaction there and you find yourself in this world. Readers should find strength in the book as it shows how easy it is to control others is to remove their ability to read. how on of the ways to control is to remove their ability to learn to read or remove the need to read.

  

Books — June 2015

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural HistoryThe Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initially this sounds like a depressing book, but then you realize that humans are also the only group trying to do something. It’s yet to be seen if it can be successful.

  
  

Lock In (Lock In, #1)Lock In by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating concept. Enjoyed the book and thinking about the technology. Threeps are one way of making transports.

  
  

Lots of Candles, Plenty of CakeLots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  
  
  
  
  
  

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your WorldData and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books — May 2015

AmnesiaAmnesia by Peter Carey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Read about two-thirds of the book. I had trouble following the story, but I enjoyed the images of Melbourne

  
  

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finished Atkins’s 3-book trilogy of World War II in Europe. I learned a lot more than I knew before and the narrative was interesting throughout the book. It’s still from a U.S./U.K. perspective. Great reading for someone who only studied the war in school.

  
  

On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent SpringOn a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring by William Souder
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a did not finish book for me. Just couldn’t stay focused on the book. The path of this book may have been too wandering for my interest at this time. I’m putting the book down, and I doubt I’ll return.

Books read — April 2015

March Violets (Bernie Gunther, #1)March Violets by Philip Kerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s set in a fascinating time to me — the days before and just after Hitler took power. This was Kerr’s first book in this series and I’m looking forward to reading more of his books to get a sense of what it was like to live in Germany during that time.

    

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical ExaminerWorking Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Medical examiners are portrayed as big crime solvers in TVs and movies, but Judy Melinek shows that it’s a lot of routine work with an occasional insight, but few dramatic breakthroughs.

The book was interesting in the intersection of routine life, such as taking the children to the park, in the afternoon after a doing an autopsy after some grisly death.

Melinek also recounts what it was like working in the NY medical examiners office in the months after then 9-11 tragedy and how the suicide of her father impacted her

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going HomeMennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Way outside what I would typically pick, but I enjoyed the book. That’s what trips are for.

    
    
    

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (The Liberation Trilogy - 2)The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a detailed look at America’s role against the Gernmany and Italy in World War II. This phase looks at the some of the tensions between the United States and U.K., and also looks at how important this phase of the war was even though it’s importance fades after D-Day. But which phase of the war isn’t critical to the other?

Books read — March 2015

Toms River: A Story of Science and SalvationToms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin

“Toms River” is frustrating because it shows how slow it takes to determine if there is a problem and the delays in implementing a solution. Fifty years my be a short time for new scientific research, but it’s a lifetime for people impacted and the businesses that could be held accountable.

 

Rage Against the Dying (Brigid Quinn, #1)Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

Masterman gave me different views of characters and place, which is one reason I chose it. It had some rough edges, but still enjoyable. This one is set in Arizona and the main character is a former FBI agent, in her late 50s.

 

 

Capital in the Twenty-First CenturyCapital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

“Capital” is a very long-term look at wealth that argues that wealth is becoming more concentrated, contradicting the common outlook.

The book looks at the situation in several countries, and reaches the same consequence. Hi recommendation of a one-time tax to redistribute wealth is not likely to be enacted anytime soon.

The Story of My LifeThe Story of My Life by Helen Keller

A very different view of Helen Keller than from the movie “Miracle Worker”. Her life into college and later was also very interesting and the support of Anne Sullivan and others give a more enjoyable and broader view.

 

Books read — January 2015

Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet AgeInformation Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow

A good introduction to the issues of DRM. It helps you understand the issues, but I didn’t feel capable of deciding on new issues and this is an ever-changing frontier now. I am a big fan of Doctorow and enjoy his writings.

 

 

Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme CourtOut of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O’Connor

Interesting facts about the Supreme Court, but that was about the extent of the book. I had no pre-knowledge of the books, and I was expecting more.

 

 

Skink--No SurrenderSkink–No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Hiaasen is a wonderfully funny writer. This is a book aimed at Young Adults. It was good, but his earlier books were funnier and more enjoyable.

Books read — December 2014

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1)An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson

The best parts of this book were the stories of how the U.S. learned to fight World War II. It took until 1943 for the U.S. to get its war effort and war smarts developed. The book helps you understand why this theater of the war was so important. Winston Churchill captured the importance of the War in North Africa with this quote: Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

So often we focus on U.S. history of the war starting at D-Day. Atkinson’s book show how D-Day was more the beginning of the last phase of World War II.

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front DoorSpam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door by Brian Krebs

Krebs writes some of the most readable pieces on cybersecurity being published these days. I look forward every day to reading his latest posts.

This books takes a deep and focused view. The pacing of the story is different, but it covers the issue better. It’s a business story and whether legal or illegal, it was interesting to hear how the issues are the same.
Business AdventuresBusiness Adventures by John Brooks

These are old stories from the 50s and 60s, but Brooks’ reporting and writing is as fresh now as it was then. The story about the Ford Edsel was the best.