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Month: July 2010

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

I find Andrew Carnegie was a fascinating man, born into poverty in Scotland during a time of economic upheaval to a hardworking mother and a father who was not. In his lifetime he made and gave away millions of dollars. I learned that he was a very hard worker who appeared to intuitively know what he needed to do to take himself to the next level of success.

I bought this book from Audible and found its 32 hour and 45 minute length to be way to long. I began the book with a high level of interest and really enjoyed the first third of the book, but the remainder of the book just seemed to drone on and on. The reading of letters written by Carnegie and the people in his life held no interest for me.

Andrew’s later life of marriage and fatherhood are not covered well by this book, but that is probably because there is not a lot of information available about that part of his life. The information that is available focuses on his philanthropic pursuits, business dealings and political machinations.

I have to admit that I fast forwarded through most of this book playing it at 2x speed and toward the end I scrubbed past chunks of it that were boring me to tears.

From the publisher:

The Scottish-born son of a failed weaver and a mother who supported the family by binding shoes, Andrew Carnegie was the embodiment of the American dream. In his rise from a job as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory to being the richest man in the world, he was single-minded, relentless, and a major player in some of the most violent and notorious labor strikes of the time. The prototype of today’s billionaire, he was a visionary in the way he earned his money and in the way he gave it away.

I rate this book a 4 out of 10 as a whole, but I would rate the first third of the book a 7 out of 10. If you are interested in Andrew Carnegie and have an available credit on Audible I think the first third of this book is worth listening to or reading and then scrubbing through the rest.


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without by Malcolm Gladwell

I enjoyed the side stories and insight into the way we make decisions and form opinions. I found this book interesting but it really didn’t excite me. I had a hard time writing this review because the book left me with no strong feelings about it.

There are some insights into human nature in this book, but nothing that really jumped out at me and changed the way way I think or challenged my perceptions.

From the publisher:

In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of “blink”: the election of Warren Harding; “New Coke”; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of “thin-slicing”, filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it while painting our nursery.

I give the book a 5 out of 10, right in the middle.


iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Along the Way

This book is the personal memoir of Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple Computers.

Woz fascinates me, he is an engineer at heart but he is also a teacher, a humanitarian, and a jokester. In this book he recounts his childhood experiences at science fairs, his teenage years with neighborhood friends plying practical jokes and making cool electronics, on to college, the creation of Apple, creating the US festival, becoming a 5th grade teacher, having children, and everything in between.

I got this book from Audible and Patrick Lawlor does a great job inserting passion and excitement into the text narrates the book. My limited knowledge of Woz is that he is a very excitable guy with huge passions for what he does, and that really comes across in the book.

From the publisher:
Wozniak’s life before and after Apple is a “home-brew” mix of brilliant discovery and adventure, as an engineer, a concert promoter, a fifth-grade teacher, a philanthropist, and an irrepressible prankster. From the invention of the first personal computer to the rise of Apple as an industry giant, iWoz presents a no-holds-barred, rollicking, firsthand account of the humanist inventor who ignited the computer revolution.

I rate this book a 7 out of 10 because I am a fan of Woz, but if you do not know who Woz is or have a deep interest in computers and electronics I am not sure you would enjoy this book.


The Callahan Chronicals by Spider Robinson

The audiobook is made up of the novels Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan’s Secret. These three books contain the stories of Mike Callahan and the visitors to his bar somewhere in the Northeast. It is the type of place with the type of people that all of us would like to find. Where no one is a stranger for long and people are willing to lend a helping hand.

I first read paperback versions of these books years ago and could not get enough of Spider Robinson’s writing after that. His sense of humor fits perfectly into what I find funny and the audiobook does a great job of conveying it.

Warning: if you do not like dry humor and puns, this series is not for you.

I give this book, as an audiobook are as a printed book a 9 out of 10 and recommend to those who enjoy a dry sense of humor, science fiction from the late 60’s, and short stories.