Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Review.

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Review.

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Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Description:

Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net - presentationzen.com - shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote. Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making “slide presentations” in today-s world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr shares lessons and perspectives that draw upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business. Combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity, this book will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1206 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-01-04
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 228 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780321525659
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

This should be required reading for all presenters…5
This is everything that I want my presentations to be when I’m up on stage… Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds. This will make you rethink everything you’ve known (and likely done) about how a presentation should be designed.

Contents:
Introduction: Presenting in Today’s World
Preparation: Creativity, Limitations, and Constraints; Planning Analog; Crafting the Story
Design: Simplicity - Why It Matters; Presentation Design - Principles and Techniques; Sample Slides
Delivery: The Art of Being Completely Present; Connecting With an Audience
The Next Step: The Journey Begins
Photo Credits; Index

There’s so much good stuff here that it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Reynolds advocates for a departure from the ordinary style of presentation involving PowerPoint. You’ve all sat through those (or given them)… Pages of slides, chock full of text, gratuitous use of special effects, etc. Presentation Zen is more about simplicity and storytelling. Your slides should support *you*, the speaker. If someone can get all the information from your slides, why do they need you? Your slides should not overwhelm the audience, but should draw their attention to the point that you are making in your talk. Couple this approach with the ability to tell stories rather than recite facts, and you can put together presentations that will be appreciated, remembered, and best of all, acted upon.

He also gets into how best to design appealing and arresting slides. Reynolds uses sites like iStockPhoto to avoid the overused and cheesy clipart that comes part and parcel with PowerPoint. And rather than just pasting a graphic on the screen under some text, the graphic *becomes* the slide, and the minimal text is positioned on the graphic in such a way that the slide becomes a work of art. Since I do technical presentations, my first objection was that this doesn’t give the listener anything to take away in terms of content. But rather than make your slides the take-away, Reynolds suggests that you put together a separate “handout” document that can be given out after the talk (or downloaded). That document can contain the details and facts that you present, without overwhelming the listener during the actual talk. It’s a simple concept, but not one that I’ve seen done often.

The bad thing about a book like this is it points out just how bad I actually am at presenting. The good thing is that it challenges me (as well as shows me) to get a whole lot better. This should be required reading for anyone before they start to put together anything in PowerPoint…

Lacking Gravitas3
Like many others, I have grown (very) weary of the so-called “death by PowerPoint” culture which saturates the IT sector in which I work. I would gladly substitute every minute of mindless suffering sitting through too many presentations by sales persons and various “engineers” with 150% more time at the Dentist’s. Much as I hate visiting my Dentist, at least I’ll be healthier afterwards.

Also like many others, I wager, I found out about Presentation Zen the book from Presentation Zen the blog of which I am a fan. I am sorry to report that I am a bigger fan of the blog than I am of the book. First, the good.

The book itself is pleasing with good binding and great color. It’s easy to read with clear type and an attractive layout. Chapter heading and sub-headings are clear and the flow of the book’s content is harmonious. The reader can tell that good quality work went into the typesetting and publishing–kudos to New Riders.

How about content? Well here a few shortcomings appear and although not enough to dismiss the book outright are enough to cause me wonder. At 230 odd pages, the first impression as I flipped through is how “light” it is, literally and metaphorically. There is a surprising amount of white space and while that’s understandable from a design perspective, from a reader’s however, it falls short of fulfilling the promise of content a similarly priced book should deliver on.

Focused reading reveals surprisingly little that is original. I stopped counting at 12 the number of books by other authors referenced and quoted from; and while that isn’t a crime per se, it’s certainly a shortcoming. At best, it looks like Reynolds did a great job of editing, creating a pastiche of content from other authors and the reader might as well do the same thing: amass a large enough library and perform the acquisition of knowledge himself. That, at least, comes with the advantage that reader will be getting it wholesale from the source instead of the Presentation Zen précis.

There is some practical and usable advice (start with analog brainstorming then proceed to the digital, keep the lights on, use a remote) but it’s inadequately fleshed out. This information is better presented and with a heightened emphasis on practicality in other books–Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson comes to mind, one of the many cited as reference for further instruction.

A possible defense to the accusation of being light is that Reynolds’ wrote the book, as the subtitle hints, as more of a philosophical treatise on presentation design. Fine, but even then, it’s still light on those points as well. Reynolds is content to regurgitate some Japanese aphorisms and quotes from various personages that, while certainly inspirational, possess little value beyond that. The book ends up reading like a “pop psychology” cheer leading tome than what it means to be: a book instructing on presenting information to an audience.

Some of the subtext I noticed from reading is that Reynolds is a dye in the wool fan of Apple products with little if any regard for PC and PC software (from Windows to PowerPoint) including them as an afterthought, perhaps to sell more books. There is also a subtle but discernable thread of condescension toward American society–the number of “fat” Americans appearing in example slides started getting a little tired after a while. I don’t know if this was purposeful and I doubt it, but nevertheless it’s there.

The latter section of the book truly runs out of steam replete as it is with examples (with little to no analysis of them) filling page after page of slideware. It peters out with some feel-good advice from the author about creativity, etc. in what felt like padding.

In summary, Presentation Zen owes its existence (with apologies to Isaac Newton) to standing on the shoulders of giants on which it stands. Amazon has it for sale at a great price so definitely get it from here. Otherwise, there’s no way I see of plunking down full price for this book at your local bookstore.

Useful but disappointing3
I found Presentation Zen disappointing. It seemed to violate in writing style many of the principles it seeks to correct in slide design, reading more like a meandering conversation over drinks than a well-laid-out, step-by-step primer. For example, the book was frustratingly repetitive, with even the simplest points restated through multiple chapters (really, how many times do you have to suggest using post-it notes?). Some central points came and went quietly in sidebars, and others completely lacked explanation or justification (i.e. the rule for using six words maximum per slide). Every time I thought I was about to discover a new and enlightening concrete principle of visual design with valid reasoning, it seemed the point from the previous chapter was repeated instead. Moreover, exceptions or alternate approaches also weren’t considered, such as times when using a whopping seven words on a slide might be useful, or when more complex slide builds and transitions could help an audience grasp a concept. In addition, many of the points made in the book, such as the value of “taking risks,” seemed obvious and trite.

Overall, like many tedious slide shows I’ve endured, I felt the book could have been half as long and made its points with the same clarity, and would have showed more respect for the reader’s time. To its credit, it does offer some useful ideas on slide design, and some excellent graphic examples. It’s also visually appealing, with beautiful slide reprints, tons of “good” and “bad” examples to learn from, and cleanly-designed pages. Still, I’d trade the appealing design for tighter, more solid, more useful content.

Review
“Please don’t buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good. (But if you truly want to learn what works and how to do it right, Garr is the man to learn from.)”
Seth Godin
Speaker and Blogger
Author, Meatball Sundae

“Garr is a beacon of hope for frustrated audiences everywhere. His design philosophy and fundamental principles bring life to messages and can invigorate careers. His principles of simplicity are as much a journey of the soul as they are restraint of the mouse.”
Nancy Duarte
CEO, Duarte Design

“Presentation Zen is just fantastic. Best of all it’s not another recipe book about “how to make slides” — this is about re-imagining how your entire presentation will work together as a persuasive and integrated show, from conception through delivery. Awesome.”
Merlin Mann
43folders.com

About the Author
Garr Reynolds is an internationally acclaimed communications expert, and the creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net: presentationzen.com. A soughtafter speaker and consultant, his clients include many in the Fortune 500. A writer, designer, and musician, he currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Management at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan. Garr is a former corporate trainer for Sumitomo Electric, and once worked in Cupertino, California as the Manager for Worldwide User Group Relations at Apple, Inc. A longtime student of the Zen arts and resident of Japan, he currently lives in Osaka where he is Director of Design Matters Japan.

Buy The Rembrandt Affair Gabriel Allon At Amazon!

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

The Rembrandt Affair Gabriel Allon

Buy The Rembrandt Affair Gabriel Allon At Amazon!

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The Rembrandt Affair Gabriel Allon Description:

Gabriel Allon returns in the spellbinding new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

Two families, one terrible secret, and a painting to die for…

It has been six months since Gabriel’s showdown with Ivan Kharkov. Now, having severed his ties with the Office, Gabriel has retreated to the Cornish coast with only one thing in mind: healing his wife, Chiara, after her encounter with evil. But an unspeakable act of violence once again draws Gabriel into a world of danger when an art restorer is brutally murdered and the newly discovered Rembrandt on which he is working taken. Gabriel is persuaded to use his unique skills to trace the painting and those responsible for the crimes; but, as he investigates, he discovers there are terrible secrets connected to the painting, and terrible men behind them. Before he is done, he will have undertaken a journey through some of the twentieth century’s darkest history-and come face-to-face with some of the same darkness within himself.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #155 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-07-20
  • Released on: 2010-07-20
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 448 pages

Customer Reviews:

About the Author
Daniel Silva is the author of twelve previous novels. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, NBC News Today correspondent Jamie Gangel.

The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance Review.

Friday, February 8th, 2013

The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance. The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance

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Loren Cordain, Ph.D., follows his success of The Paleo Diet with the first book ever to detail the exercise-enhancing effects of a diet similar to that of our Stone Age ancestors.

When The Paleo Diet was published, advocating a return to the diet of our ancestors (high protein, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables), the book received brilliant reviews from the medical and nutritional communities. Jennie Brand-Miller, coauthor of the bestselling Glucose Revolution, called it “without a doubt the most nutritious diet on the planet.” Doctors Michael and Mary Dan Eades, authors of Protein Power, said, “We can’t recommend The Paleo Diet highly enough.”

Now Dr. Cordain joins with USA triathlon and cycling elite coach Joe Friel to adapt the Paleo Diet to the needs of athletes. The authors show:
o Why the typical athletic diet (top-heavy with grains, starches, and refined sugars) is detrimental to recovery, performance, and health
o How the glycemic load and acid-base balance impact performance
o Why consumption of starches and simple sugars is only beneficial in the immediate post-exercise period

At every level of competition, The Paleo Diet for Athletes can maximize performance in a range of endurance sports.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #756 in Books
  • Published on: 2005-09-23
  • Released on: 2005-10-13
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 288 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9781594860898
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

A natural diet with the athlete in mind5
This book changed the way I look at nutrition. I have always been active and eaten a decent diet, but I knew I was too heavy on sugars and carbs in general. When I got into triathlons, I got Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training Bible, and it turned me onto the Paleo Diet.

Since both authors have advanced degrees (Loren Cordain has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and Friel a M.S. in Exercise Science), it is heavy on science. The authors base their claims on numerous sources, and reference these sources throughout.

The basic premise is that the way we currently eat is contrary to how our bodies evolved over the millions of years prior to agriculture. Lean meat, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables should be our staple, with a small twist. Paleolithic man could never have been a high level endurance athlete, as he just wouldn’t have gotten enough carbohydrate to replenish his glycogen stores after a long or very intense workout.

This book, then, makes adjustments to the standard Paleo Diet to include certain types of foods normally not allowed during SPECIFIC periods of the pre and post-exercise window.

Post Script: Though I don’t like to comment on others’ reviews, I feel I must say that I don’t agree with the assertion that the book doesn’t place enough emphasis on when to eat the foods you eat. After the intro, the entire first few chapters are exactly that: What types of food to eat, and EXACTLY when to eat them.

Very helpful, but not perfect3
I bought this book because my diet was already headed in the Paleo direction without anybody’s book telling me to do so, but also because Joe Friel’s web site recommended it. That made me curious about the details of why I should eat that way. I have slightly elevated blood pressure (pre-hypertension), and managed to bring it down from an average of about 129/84 to 124/81 or so just by eating low-sodium (I already was riding my bicycle 150-300 miles a week, so clearly more excercise wasn’t needed). After having real trouble finding low-salt foods, I discovered that the produce section was my best friend, and the fresh meat/seafood section too; that was pretty close to Paleo already. But I was still eating lots of grains and beans, and this book convinced me to go full Paleo for non-sports reasons. Now I seem to be recovering much quicker and no longer have any of those rides where my legs are dog-tired. I’ve also gotten a bit leaner, though I was already at just 8% body fat. I then bought his first Paleo Diet book and read that. I now have pretty much gone completely Paleo, with some intentional lapses, and I don’t really follow this second book so much. I follow his first book with its non-athlete orientation primarily to maintain my health as I get older, but I find that I can eat a Paleo omelette for breakfast, and ride for three hours with no sports drinks or gels (though I do bring dried fruit for any ride over three hours, and sports drink for long races or very hard training rides). Leaves me wondering if this second book was really needed. I strongly recommend his first book, and this one only if you’re in the Ironman Tri, RAAM, or something extreme like that.

Very focused on endurance athletics.4
I was excited to try the Paleo Diet in conjunction with a general fitness improvement plan. However, I was slightly disappointed by the fact that the book is focused almost entirely on endurance athletics. Barely a mention is given of Paleo in conjunction with weight training or general weight loss.

The book does give lots of details for implementing the Paleo way of eating for intense athletes, so it’s a great book if you fit that category.

Regardless of fitness level, there are many tasty sounding Paleo recipes in the book, so it will be a good companion to the original Paleo Diet book even if you’re not a high-volume athlete. But for beginners, I would recommend the original Paleo Diet book first, because it is geared more towards general fitness and weight loss.

And one thing that I like about both of Cordain’s books is that they have an extensive bibliography of references, so you can be sure his research is backed-up with lots of research.

No Mercy Dark-Hunter Novels Discount.

Friday, February 8th, 2013

No Mercy Dark-Hunter Novels. No Mercy Dark-Hunter Novels

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  • Amazon Sales Rank: #345 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-08-03
  • Released on: 2010-08-03
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 448 pages

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Sale-$18.47!

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Sale-$18.47!

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Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Description:

How do we think about money?
What caused bankers to lose sight of the economy?
What caused individuals to take on mortgages that were not within their means?
What irrational forces guided our decisions?
And how can we recover from an economic crisis?

In this revised and expanded edition of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Predictably Irrational, Duke University’s behavioral economist Dan Ariely explores the hidden forces that shape our decisions, including some of the causes responsible for the current economic crisis. Bringing a much-needed dose of sophisticated psychological study to the realm of public policy, Ariely offers his own insights into the irrationalities of everyday life, the decisions that led us to the financial meltdown of 2008, and the general ways we get ourselves into trouble.

Blending common experiences and clever experiments with groundbreaking analysis, Ariely demonstrates how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities. As he explains, our reliance on standard economic theory to design personal, national, and global policies may, in fact, be dangerous. The mistakes that we make as individuals and institutions are not random, and they can aggregate in the market—with devastating results. In light of our current economic crisis, the consequences of these systematic and predictable mistakes have never been clearer.

Packed with new studies and thought-provoking responses to readers’ questions and comments, this revised and expanded edition of Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world—from the small decisions we make in our own lives to the individual and collective choices that shape our economy.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1565 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-06-01
  • Released on: 2009-05-19
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Roughcut
  • 400 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780061854545
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

Made me think through some things I’d overlooked about market behavior5
I have been thinking about economics seriously for nearly 30 years. Classical economics is built to no small degree on the notion that people will generally act in their own best self interest, after rationally and intelligently examining their options. This fit my world view fine in my first career as an engineer (BS and MS in Electrical Engineering).

From my 2nd Career as a Business Development person (MBA), I began to have to deal with people’s tendency to not entirely think things through.

Here in this book, we have a professor who runs socioeconomic tests on his MBA students. These students are smart enough, worldly enough, experienced enough, and educated enough to approximate the standard economic assumptions and produce reasonably rational behavior.

Guess what. Even among broad experiments conducted on multiple MBA classes over time, one can predictably pre-bias the outcome of a particular run of a socioeconomic experiment by what seeds you plant in the class members’ minds before the experiment. For example, in one experiment in estimating prices, the author requires his students to write the last two digits of their social security numbers on the top of the paper. Simply the act of writing a high number (e.g., 88) versus a low number (e.g., 08) produced statistically significant correlatable influences on the students’ later price estimates. Those compelled to write “88″ at the top of their papers would reliably estimate higher prices than those compelled to write “08″ at the top of their papers, to a statistically significant degree.

Extrapolating to “real life.” Watching Fox News will tend to make you more conservative without you knowing it. Watching MSNBC news will tend to make you more liberal without you knowing it.

If you want to understand “real truth,” you are just going to have to do a little more than self-select your news feeds. You are going to have to seriously consider a diversity of viewpoints.

Moreover, if you have Social Darwinist beliefs as I once did, you may need to re-think the concept of the Poverty Trap. Early pre-conditioning really does make a difference.

Here is the way I think of it as an Engineer. Classical Economic Theory is analogous to Classical Newtonian Physics. There is nothing badly wrong with it, and it is a good approximation for most real world problems at the middle of the distribution.

However, General Relativity is indeed more correct that Classical Newtonian Physics, and the additional knowledge makes a real difference in certain special cases. And, those special cases are sometimes the really important ones. Likewise, Behavioral Economics is adding something very valuable to our knowledge of Classical Economics.

Read this only if you are brave enough to contemplate that the world might be a little more complex than we wish it were.

An excellent book which provides valuable insights5
This book and Dan Ariely have recieved a lot of media attention, so I approached the book with some skepticism, thinking that it might be overhyped. I’m pleased to report that my skepticism turned out to be unwarranted.

The book has many strengths, the main one being that it convincingly presents many ways people are wired and/or conditioned to be irrational, usually without even being aware of it. This eye-opening revelation can be a bit disheartening, but the good news is that we can fix at least some of this irrationality by being aware of how it can arise and then making a steady effort to override it or compensate for it. That’s not an easy task, but it can be done. As a simple example, I’ve programmed a realistic exercise schedule into my PDA, and I’ve been very consistent with my exercise because of that. The PDA imposes a discipline on me which I couldn’t otherwise impose on myself (as I know from experience).

The book is also well written, and I would even say enjoyable to read. The many experiments described in the book are presented in a lively way which elicits interest, and Ariely goes into just the right amount of detail — enough to convey the basic experimental designs, results, and plausible interpretations, without boring the reader by getting into esoteric points which are more appropriate for journal papers.

The one criticism I have of the book, which applies to most of Western pscyhology, is that most of the described experiments used US college students as subjects. That raises a serious question regarding the extent to which the results can be generalized to people of the same age who aren’t college students, people of other ages, and people outside the US. Study of cultural psychology reveals that differences due to these factors can be profound, and Ariely himself notes a Korean study where such differences were observed, but he doesn’t really elaborate on the point.

Despite this one criticism, I think this is an excellent and authoritative book, and among the better ones in the “why smart people do dumb things” genre, so I highly recommend it. The insights revealed are both fascinating and practical, if you can muster the discipline to apply them.

Interesting book for the lay audience, less so for the scientist3
A broad survey of how we often make decisions and judgments that ultimately are wrong or not in our best interest, this book is best when it talks about specific issues of economics and rather mundane when it examines general psychological behavior. Mr. Ariely is not a gifted writer, but he is a serviceable one. He also is not shy about citing other people involved in this work. Culturally, he is definitely an Israeli, which means American readers, especially women, may groan when he writes about male/female relationships. The book is front loaded with the interesting material, which focuses on such topics as pricing. Toward the end, the author seems to be out of his depth in his cursory looks at broad topics like dishonesty.

From the standpoint of a scientist, his descriptions of his experiments seem a bit alarming. They seem overly simplistic and more importantly have far too few people surveyed to fully back the conclusions of the work. I can only hope that the author, in trying to make the book more accessible to the lay audience, has left out important information on how his work is done.

Overall, I’d say that there is about 1/2 a book worth of interesting material here. That’s probably better than most books today. It tends to have a fairly engaging and humorous style. It’s very accessible (although my mother-in-law, a very bright woman, said to me that a couple of the chapters were tough going). I’d recommend reading the first four chapters and skipping the rest.

Review
“A delightfully brilliant guide to our irrationality—and how to overcome it—in the marketplace and everyplace.” (Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Dealing with Darwin )

“A fascinating romp through the science of decision-making that unmasks the ways that emotions, social norms, expectations, and context lead us astray.” (Time magazine )

“A marvelous book that is both thought provoking and highly entertaining, ranging from the power of placebos to the pleasures of Pepsi. Ariely unmasks the subtle but powerful tricks that our minds play on us, and shows us how we can prevent being fooled.” (Jerome Groopman, New York Times bestselling author of How Doctors Think )

“A taxonomy of financial folly.” (The New Yorker )

“After reading this book, you will understand the decisions you make in an entirely new way.” (Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT’s Media Lab and founder and chairman of the One Laptop per Child non-profit association )

“An entertaining tour of the many ways people act against their best interests, drawing on Ariely’s own ingeniously designed experiments. . . . Personal and accessible.” (BusinessWeek )

“Ariely’s book addresses some weighty issues . . . with an unexpected dash of humor.” (Entertainment Weekly )

“Ariely’s intelligent, exuberant style and thought-provoking arguments make for a fascinating, eye-opening read.” (Publishers Weekly )

“Dan Ariely is a genius at understanding human behavior: no economist does a better job of uncovering and explaining the hidden reasons for the weird ways we act, in the marketplace and out. PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL will reshape the way you see the world, and yourself, for good.” (James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds )

“Dan Ariely’s ingenious experiments explore deeply how our economic behavior is influenced by irrational forces and social norms. In a charmingly informal style that makes it accessible to a wide audience, PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL provides a standing criticism to the explanatory power of rational egotistic choice.” (Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize in Economics 1972, Professor of Economics Stanford University )

“Freakonomics held that people respond to incentives, perhaps in undesirable ways, but always rationally. Dan Ariely shows you how people are deeply irrational, and predictably so.” (Chip Heath, Co-Author, Made to Stick, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business )

“In creative ways, author Dan Ariely puts rationality to the test. . . . New experiments and optimistic ideas tumble out of him, like water from a fountain.” (Boston Globe )

“Inventive. . . . An accessible account. . . . Ariely is a more than capable storyteller . . . If only more researchers could write like this, the world would be a better place.” (Financial Times )

“PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL is a charmer-filled with clever experiments, engaging ideas, and delightful anecdotes. Dan Ariely is a wise and amusing guide to the foibles, errors, and bloopers of everyday decision-making.” (Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness )

“PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL is a scientific but imminently readable and decidedly insightful look into why we do what we do every day…and why, even though we ‘know better,’ we may never change.” (Wenda Harris Millard, President, Media, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia )

“PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL is wildly original. It shows why—much more often than we usually care to admit—humans make foolish, and sometimes disastrous, mistakes. Ariely not only gives us a great read; he also makes us much wiser.” (George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001 Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley )

“Predictably Irrational is an important book. Full of valuable and entertaining insights that will make an impact on your business, professional, and personal life.” (Jack M Greenberg, Chairman, Western Union Company, Retired Chairman and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation )

“Predictably Irrational is clever, playful,humorous, hard hitting, insightful, and consistently fun and exciting to read.” (Paul Slovic, Founder and President, Decision Research )

“Sly and lucid. . . . Predictably Irrational is a far more revolutionary book than its unthreatening manner lets on.” (New York Times Book Review )

“Surprisingly entertaining. . . . Easy to read. . . . Ariely’s book makes economics and the strange happenings of the human mind fun.” (USA Today )

“The most difficult part of investing is managing your emotions. Dan explains why that is so challenging for all of us, and how recognizing your built-in biases can help you avoid common mistakes.” (Charles Schwab, Chairman and CEO, The Charles Schwab Corporation )

“This is a wonderful, eye-opening book. Deep, readable, and providing refreshing evidence that there are domains and situations in which material incentives work in unexpected ways. We humans are humans, with qualities that can be destroyed by the introduction of economic gains. A must read!” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York Times bestselling author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable )

About the Author

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, with appointments at the Fuqua School of Business, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Department of Economics, and the School of Medicine. Dan earned one Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and another Ph.D. in business administration. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Scientific American, and Science. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller Discount.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller Discount.

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No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller Description:

Bernie Madoff was a king of the financial world and a beloved philanthropist. But very few people knew that he was quietly running the largest hedge fund in the world, a fund that eventually spread to over forty nations and handled tens of billions of dollars.

Harry Markopolos was a little-known number cruncher at a Boston equity derivatives firm analyzing investment products. A marketer for that firm, Frank Casey, handed Harry a prospectus outlining Madoff’s strategy and asked him to create a similar product. Harry sat down and looked at the numbers. The numbers didn’t add up. For the next ten years, the investigative team Markopolos recruited warned the government, the industry, and the financial press that the largest and most successful hedge fund in the industry was a total fraud and that the respected and admired Bernie Madoff was a crook. But no one would listen.

This is the thrilling, complete story of the pursuit of the greatest financial criminal in history. The incredible investigation takes listeners inside the financial industry, revealing the never-before-told stories behind the headlines. No One Would Listen is the frighteningly true story of massive fraud, governmental incompetence, and criminal collusion that has changed thousands of lives forever—as well as the world’s financial system.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #379 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-03-02
  • Released on: 2010-03-02
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 376 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780470553732
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

A true David and Goliath story5
Although I was not an investor, I have been intrigued by the Madoff scandal since it exploded in December 2008. Ever since then, I have spent hours pouring over articles written in the press and documents released by the government and watched (and rewatched) all the hearings on this massive fraud. I even attended one of Harry Markopolos’ speaking events to make sure that my television screen did not conjure up such a noble public servant. Of course, it is only consistent that I would have a copy of “No One Would Listen” in my hands on the first day of its release. Admittedly, I expected the book to be more or less a summary of everything I have learned thus far - I was very wrong. “No One Would Listen, ” a true David and Goliath story, is the most riveting nonfiction I have ever read in my entire life.

In the book, young innocent David is portrayed as a “wildly eccentric quant” from Boston named Harry Markopolos who tried to defend his country from the nine feet tall Philistine giant Goliath, portrayed as Bernie Madoff. King Saul of Israel and his army (the SEC) were terrified of Goliath. “No One Would Listen” is a 10-year first hand account of how Harry and his three friends tried to warn the government, the industry, and the press that the founder of the most successful broker-dealers in the financial industry was actually the biggest crook in history. Unfortunately, “No One Would Listen” does not have the same happy ending as the biblical David v. Goliath battle.

For the past few days, I have been reading reviews on the book and found a lot of derogatory comments about Harry’s character and his book. I have to wonder to myself if these reporters read the same book that I did and why they would want to tag their name with such unsubstantiated assertions. Before I continue on the book, I have to point out some false information printed by some media outlets. These book reviews only reconfirm the financial mediocrity in the press that Harry and his team had to deal with the past 10 years - that is why no one would listen.

First, we know that in its 73 years of existence, the SEC has a history of treating whistleblowers like dirt and has only paid 2 whistleblower bounties. One reward, as told in the book, was in the amount of $3,500. I’m sick and tired of people throwing that Harry only went to the SEC because he was looking for a bounty. He knew from the start that his chance of receiving a bounty was remote. Even if he did receive a bounty, is $3,500 worth hundreds of hours of investigative research while he was most likely making a comfortable 6-figure salary at his previous employment?

Second, some reporters claimed that the reason why no one would listen is because Harry is some sort of nut that rubbed the SEC the wrong way and that he was overly paranoid for fearing that Madoff may come after him. One only has to watch Harry’s Feb. 4, 2009 testimony to Congress to confirm this man’s articulate manner and brilliance. Do your research on his background, and you will see how aware people are of his talents and credibility. The reason why no one would listen is because the fraud was so unbelievable - Bernie Madoff was filthy rich, why would he need to steal? The second reason, as the world now knows, is due to the arrogance, laziness, financial illiteracy, and investigative ineptitude of the SEC and the press. In addressing his fear for Madoff, why wouldn’t he fear Madoff? People have killed for much less. There are pending investigations with the FBI undisclosed to the public. Why would the FBI announce to the bad guys that they’re about to be investigated, unlike the SEC, who called Madoff to give him a heads up on the 2006 investigation.

Third, a major media outlet criticized how Harry had made a career of being “a professional whistleblower facilitator”, turning corporate employees into spies when they should be reporting problems internally. After the collapse of Enron, the SEC was charged with reviewing incidents of financial statement fraud from 1997 to 2002. Of the 515 enforcement actions for financial reporting and disclosure fraud, charges were brought against 466 managers: 75 chairmen of the board, 111 CEOs, 111 presidents, 105 CFOs, 21 COOs, 16 CAOs, and 27 VPs of finance. You tell me how a lonely staff member at the bottom of the totem pole would come up against these big honchos.

Throughout the book, if I was not cracking up laughing at Harry’s oddball sense of humor, I was pounding my fist from mortification at the horrors that Harry and his team had witnessed the past 10 years. “No One Would Listen” is a reflection of the culture of greed infected on Wall Street. One event that stuck to my mind was Neil Chelo’s phone interview with the head of risk management at Fairfield Greenwich Sentry Fund in Chapter 7. I was completely appalled that he could not answer any of Neil’s questions on how Madoff was getting his returns, why he was always holding T-bills at year end, and why the audits only show $160MM worth of T-bills on a $1.47BB portfolio. Where did the remaining $1.31BB go? This is the same egghead that manages the risk of a $7BB fund. It was absurd how he had the gall to follow up with Neil if he still wanted to invest with the fund even after Neil had called him out for an hour straight.

Another event that had me almost vomiting was regarding 20 market-timing scandals that Harry had worked on for 1.5 years and eventually presented to the SEC. The scandals cost investors $20BB, yet the SEC decided that they were done with market timing scandals so the crooks all walk away scotch-free. Keep in mind that this all happened after Peter Scannell already testified against the SEC on how the agency missed the market timing scandal at Putnam Investments even with his repeated warnings. Our tax dollars at work. And we wonder why our country is in the midst of economic meltdown today.

As Frank Casey pointed out, Mother Teresa did not work on Wall Street. Even so, the book details the sacrifices that Harry and his team went through to expose the evil man that is Bernie Madoff, even if it means losing money to a competitor or risk getting shot in the head. These four men are the rare gems in the financial industry. If more people like them exist, perhaps Wall Street would not be such a bad place.

Toward the end, Harry revealed the nature of some of the cases he has been working on the past few years and recommendations on how the SEC could improve. He is truly blessed - a self-taught fraud investigator accomplishing more for our country in five years than the entire SEC staff has done in decades. And for that, we owe him our gratitude.

Go get ‘em, Harry.

The definitive story5
When the SEC was asleep at the wheel, Markopolos was there. It blew my mind when I read just how many times Markopolos tried to contact the SEC and the media, and so many times, he was ignored. To think of the money and the lives that could have been saved! When I wasn’t baffled and educated by the contents of the book, I was laughing. Markopolos has managed to write a TRUE thriller with charm and humor. It comforts me to know that this book is out there, for all to read, and I hope it brings a lot of change to our financial watchdogs. Harry Markopolos is a hero.

Well Written Account of Harry’s Efforts5
Excellent account of the efforts of Harry Markopolos and his team in uncovering Bernie Madoff’s fraud and then trying to expose him and get the government to act. The book is well written and documents the the abysmal failures of an SEC relying too heavily on lawyers and accountants who lack the sophistication to understand how the investment industry works and the investment solutions the industry markets to investors.

Harry’s account of when Noelle Frangipane, a member of the SEC’s Inspector General’s team investigating the SEC’s failings, broke down and cried was indeed a particularly human moment and an account I’m glad Harry put in the book. There are people at the SEC who care. The agency clearly lacks investment professionals and people with investment industry operational experience. Lawyers and accountants have their role, but they are not trained as investment professionals.

Great read! Good job Harry!

Amazon.com Review
Harry Markopolos and his team of financial sleuths discuss first-hand how they cracked the Madoff Ponzi scheme

No One Would Listen is the exclusive story of the Harry Markopolos-lead investigation into Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme. While a lot has been written about Madoff’s scam, few actually know how Markopolos and his team-affectionately called “The Fox Hounds” by Markopolos himself, uncovered what Madoff was doing years before this financial disaster reached its pinnacle. Unfortunately, no one listened, until the damage of the world’s largest financial fraud ever was irreversible.

Since that time, Markopolos openly has testified and questioned the enforcement and fraud investigation capabilities of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), shared a sliver of this page-turning story with 60 Minutes, and become perhaps the world’s most visible and insightful whistleblower on fraud and conflicts of interest in financial markets.

Throughout the book, Markopolos and his Fox Hounds tell their first-hand story of investigating Madoff-with the help of bestselling author David Fisher. They explain how they discovered the fraud, and then how they provided credible and detailed evidence to major newspapers and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) many times between 2000 and 2008, only to have his warnings ignored repeatedly by the SEC.

  • Provides a firsthand account of how Markopolos uncovered Madoff’s scam years before it actually fell apart
  • Discusses how the SEC missed the red flags raised by Markopolos
  • Describes how Madoff was enabled by investors and fiduciaries alike
  • The only book to tell the story of Madoff’s scam and the SEC’s failings by those who saw both first hand

Despite repeated written and verbal warnings to the SEC by Harry Markopolos, Bernie Madoff was allowed to continue his operations. No One Would Listen paints a vivid portrait of Markopolos and his determined team of financial sleuths, and what impact they will have on financial markets and financial regulation for decades to come.

A Timeline of a Take-Down
Amazon-exclusive content from author Harry Markopolos

How long did it take to uncover and expose a $40 billion crook? Ten years.

1998-1999
• 1998: My Firm “discovers” Bernie Madoff
• Late 1999: I am asked to reverse engineer Madoff’s returns

2000
• I knew he was a fraudster in 5 minutes
• May: Submission to SEC Boston Regional Office’s Director of Enforcement with 12 Red Flags

2001
• January: Team Member Frank Casey recruits MAR Hedge investigative journalist Michael Ocrant onto the team during a chance meeting in Barcelona, Spain
• March: My 2nd SEC Submission on how I think Madoff is running the scheme and his investment process
• I offer to go undercover to assist the SEC
• Apr: Michael Ocrant interviews Madoff
• May: MAR Hedge publishes Madoff expose, “Madoff Tops Charts; skeptics ask how”; Barron’s publishes, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Bernie Madoff is so secretive, he even asks investors to keep mum”

2002
• Jun: Key trip to UK, France & Switzerland; met with 20 Fund of Funds & Private Client Banks: 14 have Madoff and report “special access to Madoff”; two have admitted Madoff losses – Dexia Asset Management and Fix Family Office; 12 have not admitted Madoff losses and all 12 were turned into SEC Chairwoman on Feb. 5, 2009; off-Shore funds attract three types of investors who won’t report losses or file SIPC claims with the US government

2003-2004
• E-mail records of investigation lost; attempting to recover data from non-functioning hard drives

2005
• Jun: Frank Casey discovers Madoff attempting to borrow money from European banks (first sign that Madoff scheme is in trouble)
• Oct: Boston SEC’s Ed Manion arranges for 3rd SEC Submission
• Oct: Meeting with Boston SEC Branch Chief Mike Garrity, who quickly investigates, finds irregularities, and forwards my submission to SEC’s New York Office
• Nov: Boston Whistleblower calls NYC Branch Chief Meaghen Cheung and reveals his identity
• Nov: 29 Red Flags submitted
• Dec: I doubt NYC SEC’s ability, fear for my life, and contact Wall Street Journal and go to local law enforcement for protection

2006
• Jan: Integral Partners’ $40 million derivatives Ponzi Scheme goes to trial five years and five months after discovery, causing us to further doubt SEC competence
• Sep: Chicago Board Options Exchange VP tells me that several OEX option traders also think Madoff is a fraudster; if SEC had called the CBOE’s marketing office, they would have cooperated

2007
• Feb 28: Neil Chelo obtains a Madoff portfolio which shows zero ability to earn a return
• Jun: Casey obtains Wickford Fund LP prospectus showing Madoff is short of cash and offering a 3:1 leverage via bank loans, another clear warning sign that Madoff is running short of cash
• Jul: Chelo obtains Fairfield Greenwich Sentry LP financial statements for 2004 – 2006 and discovers three year-end audits with three different auditors in three different countries!
• Aug: Chelo conducts a 45 minute telephone interview with Fairfield Greenwich’s head of risk management; hedge funds all lose money except for Madoff!

2008
• Apr 2: Undelivered e-mail to Sokobin, SEC’s Director of Risk Assessment, entitled, “$30 Billion Equity Derivatives Hedge Fund Fraud in New York”
• Dec 11: Madoff runs out of money, turns himself in
• Dec 12: SEC insider calls me and warns “watch your back, Operation Cover-up has begun.”

2009
• Feb 4: My U.S. House testimony followed by SEC’s senior staff and FINRA acting CEO
• Sep 4: 477-page SEC IG Report on the Madoff Fiasco released
• Sep 10: I testify before US Senate Banking Committee with SEC IG

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Markopolos, the whistleblower who filed five unheeded complaints against Ponzi king Bernie Madoff over nine years, has produced an astonishing true-life whodunit set amidst the personalities, plots, and international intrigue of Wall Street. Having collected damning information on money manager Madoff-the respected co-founder of NASDAQ who ran the largest financial scam in history-since 1999, Markopolos’s work as a chartered financial analyst and certified fraud examiner, aided by an industry journalist and two colleagues from his days as a derivatives portfolio manager, lays bare the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a tragically inept regulating agency that “didn’t give a rat’s ass about protecting investors,” and seemed to consider Madoff “just another guy cutting some corners.” Realizing he had not one but two powerful opponents-”Madoff and this nonfunctioning agency”-Markopolos refused to give up, despite fearing for his life and his family; accordingly, he transmits his team’s determination and fascination in contagious detail. The hows and whys of Madoff’s eventual arrest, Markopolos’s subsequent appearances before Congress, and the carnival of press coverage makes a satisfying conclusion to this strange epic; Markopolos also includes complete documentation of his formal submissions to the SEC, plus his recommendations for much-needed reform at the agency.

Review
[STARRED REVIEW] Markopolos, the whistleblower who filed five unheeded complaints against Ponzi king Bernie Madoff over nine years, has produced an astonishing true-life whodunit set amidst the personalities, plots, and international intrigue of Wall Street. Having collected damning information on money manager Madoff-the respected co-founder of NASDAQ who ran the largest financial scam in history-since 1999, Markopolos’s work as a chartered financial analyst and certified fraud examiner, aided by an industry journalist and two colleagues from his days as a derivatives portfolio manager, lays bare the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a tragically inept regulating agency that “didn’t give a rat’s ass about protecting investors,” and seemed to consider Madoff “just another guy cutting some corners.” Realizing he had not one but two powerful opponents-”Madoff and this nonfunctioning agency”-Markopolos refused to give up, despite fearing for his life and his family; accordingly, he transmits his team’s determination and fascination in contagious detail. The hows and whys of Madoff’s eventual arrest, Markopolos’s subsequent appearances before Congress, and the carnival of press coverage makes a satisfying conclusion to this strange epic; Markopolos also includes complete documentation of his formal submissions to the SEC, plus his recommendations for much-needed reform at the agency. (Mar.) (PublishersWeekly.com, March 29, 2010)

“…a salutary tale and the detailed regulatory lessons offered in the epilogue deserve attention.” (Financial Times, March 2010)

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Lowest Price!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

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Compare Prices on Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

A step-by-step guide to writing and managing the writer’s life covers each portion of a written project, addresses such concerns as writer’s block and getting published, and offers awareness and survival tips. Reprint. Tour. K. NYT.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #806 in Books
  • Published on: 1995-09-01
  • Released on: 1995-09-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 239 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780385480017
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Laughs and Lifelines!5
This is not a how-to book. This is not a New Age manual for freeing your creativity in ethereal ways. This is Anne Lamott, for heaven’s sake…and that means it’s funny! As in, laugh- till-you-can’t-read-the-words-through-the-tears-in-your-eyes funny. (Some call this therapy, and I’m inclined to agree.)

Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you’re a writer–and I claim to be one–it’s more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it’s a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition. Anne makes it clear that writing must be pursued for something other than mere publication. (Though, to be honest, I know she’s just trying to let the majority of us down easy.) Writing is about letting go, growing, facing truths, and holding on.

I’m hooked on Lamott. She slaps me in the face with her startling revelations, nudges me in the ribs with her unpredictable humor, and prods my frozen little writer’s hands back into action with warm compassion. This book won’t solve the mechanical aspects of my writing, or lead me on the path of structural excellence, but it will spark my creativity, free my characters to be true to themselves, and, ultimately, shake me from my doldrums back into the writing mode.

In a society addicted to mindless facts and information, “Bird by Bird” reminds us–writers or otherwise–that it’s all about heart. Heart and mind and soul dancing together, even if they step all over each other’s feet.

Funny, inspiring, & wise–but get your craft elsewhere5
If there’s a better book to read when you’re doubting yourselfand your writing ability, I don’t know what it is. IF YOU WANT TOWRITE by Brenda Ueland may be more profound, but it’s not as funny… I don’t think Lamott copied Ueland at all. Both books are wonders, Ueland’s more spiritual or mystical–i.e. how to express your own unique self and write your truth–and Lamott’s more worldy–how to get your rear in gear and start producing copy. Lamott’s chapter on crumby first drafts lets you know you must start somewhere and can’t do that if you’re constantly criticizng and editing yourself. And she is so right–once you have a beginning, you can make it better..and better…and better. She doesn’t really tell you how to do that in very specific terms, but for that there’s great sourcebooks like SELF EDITING FOR FICTON WRITERS and ON WRITING WELL, which more than cover the job. Bird by Bird may be short on craft, but it’s long on motivation, humor, and practical ways to get yourself writing.

Expert writing advice with a funny and easy style.5
This author is a new find for me, but I will surely read much more of her. She is fabulously funny, incredibly informative, and absolutely generous with her thoughts and feelings and expertise on writing. The book warmed me, and made me feel that I could continue my writing with a stronger and better perspective. For aspiring writer’s everywhere, and for writers published and not, this book will take you on a journey and offer invaluable advice for your hard work. It will help you revive that natural urge to write and keep you plugging away at the keyboard during the very worst of slumps. You will also laugh with Anne Lamott, the author, who is hilarious and honest and very witty. The practical and real life advice will stay with you as you struggle to become the writer you already are.

Buy Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds At Amazon!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

Buy Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds At Amazon!

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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds Description:

The widely anticipated memoir of legendary ace American fighter pilot, Robin Olds

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #175 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-04-13
  • Released on: 2010-04-13
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 416 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780312560232
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

Rockin’ Robin5
This is a substantial book (about 400 pages) about the life of one of the most famous fighter pilots of all time, Robin Olds. It is largely a compilation of Olds’ diaries, documents, letters, articles, etc, put together by his daughter, Christina Olds, after Robin’s death in 2007. Indeed, before he died, Robin and Christina were able to share a fair amount of time together in preparation for the completion of his unfinished memoirs. Appropriately, the book is written in the first person. It’s a well written book, not because it contains highly polished writing (it doesn’t), but rather because it reads as you’d expect it to read coming from a maverick fighter-pilot. (I was fortunate to hear Robin Olds speak a number of times, and this book is true to his rather abrupt style of speaking.)

The book begins right where you’d expect a fighter pilot to begin–in the air, in combat (”We had been taking the war to Hitler…”)–but then settles back to develop Olds’ life story, starting from the beginning. His mother died when he was four, and he grew up the son of an Army officer. (There was no Air Force at that time.) The reader learns about his interest in football (6′ 2″, captain of his high school team, later played for West Point–including once in front of 100,000 fans at an Army - Navy game, back when that game was a big event to all sports fans).

The heart of this book, like the main theme in his life, is flying, especially in conflict. Olds flew P-38s and later transitioned to the marvelous P-51 (with the Merlin engine) during World War II. On his second P-51 training flight he almost crashed the aircraft trying to land (they didn’t call it the Mustang for nothing). His experiences in Europe during World War II and his Air Force career thereafter read almost like a stream-of-consciousness. D-Day. His kills. His eye for women. Taking command of a fighter squadron. V-E Day. His temper. Life in the fast lane. The P-80. His marriage to Hollywood star Ella Raines. Exchange duty with the Royal Air Force, reportedly becoming the only U.S. Air Force officer to command a RAF squadron. The F-86. And so on.

Olds tried hard to get assigned to combat duty during the Korean War, but apparently his wife (and her TV directors) managed to persuade Laurence Rockefeller to use his considerable political influence to get Olds’ name off the Korea assignment list every time it came up. Olds almost resigned his commission in 1952 to become a civilian test pilot, but remained on active duty. Then, more stream-of-consciousness. Libya. An assignment to the Pentagon. And more.

But then there was the Vietnam War. Olds was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, where he (and close friend Chappie James) became a legend. In preparation for this combat assignment in the F-4C, Olds describes wanting to experience the F-4’s noted “adverse yaw” on only his second training flight. In doing so, he lost both engines and almost his life. He wrote, “If I had been a North Vietnamese pilot, I would have been an ace ten times over.” (He was only an ace once in the Vietnam War.) The reason he said that was that while the F-4 could fly at Mach 2, dogfights typically don’t take place at supersonic speeds, and there was no way an F-4 could turn with a MiG-17. On the cover of the book is a famous photo of Olds being carried on the shoulders of his men–tears in his eyes. Robin Olds was seemingly made for commanding men in combat, and he did that very well. His men loved him, and that probably says it all. Speaking of photos, there are about 16 pages of black-and-white photos in the book that bring back lots of memories.

After returning from the Vietnam War, Olds was promoted to Brigadier General and made Commandant of Cadets at the Air Force Academy, after he shaved off his trademark handlebar mustache. (One of his cadets was Sully Sullenberger.) He tells of an experience when an F-105 was brought to the Academy to be dedicated as a reminder of all those who fought in the air above Vietnam. A flight of F-105s flew over the 4,000 cadets assembled before lunch, and these aircraft accidentally broke the sound barrier, resulting in the equivalent of millions of dollars of broken glass (in today’s dollars). I was there at the time, and it was an unforgettable experience.

In closing this review, I’d like to relate one personal experience about Robin Olds. It was during the time he was Commandant of Cadets at the Academy, and he was talking to an auditorium of cadets. While he was speaking, he spotted one cadet with his foot resting on top of a chair. From the stage, Olds proceeded to chew out this cadet for not sitting up straight. When he asked the terrified cadet whether he had anything to say for himself, the cadet responded that his leg was in a cast, and he could not sit up straight. Olds replied, “Well, I’m sure I’ve been embarrassed this much before–but I really can’t remember when.” Everyone laughed, and Olds went back to his lecture as if nothing had happened. That’s the way I’ll remember him: intense, yet human.

Absolutely AWESOME!!!5
In a word-AWESOME!!! This is the incredible story of one of, if not “the” greatest combat flying wing commanders that has ever graced our presence. Robin Olds was a larger-than-life character who flew hard, fought hard and played hard. Imagine a story where a young boy grows up with many of American aviation’s greats (Billy Mitchell, Tooey Spaatz, Hap Arnold, and Jimmy Doolittle) hanging around with his father. With all that influence and exposure, it’s no wonder Robin Olds developed into a great fighter pilot in his own right. Then imagine that young boy being accepted into West Point. He plays football there (offense and defense#, becoming an All-American. Robin then goes to pilot training, goes off to war, becomes an ace in the P-38 Lightning, and becomes an ace in the P-51 Mustang. Let’s not stop there. How about marrying a beautiful movie star, and taking command of a British jet squadron? Robin Olds would go off to Vietnam, but not before fathering two beautiful daughters, and shoot down four MiGs. After fighting his way through 152 missions #plus 107 from WW II), Robin Olds would become Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Sound too good to be true, well not for Robin Olds. Fighter Pilot is action packed from the beginning. Readers will experience the thrill of flying into battle in some of the greatest American fighter planes. And they will learn the finer points of great combat leadership. What a great movie this book would make.

The efforts of Robin’s daughter Christina also cannot be overstated. As Robin Old’s life heared it’s end, Christina spent many long hours discussing the stories in this book with her father. She read through page after page of reports, diaries, letters, articles and stories, in an effort to capture the essence of her father’s story, from her father’s perspective. This was no small undertaking. And the result is simple outstanding. Buy this book. You won’t be able to put it down.

A must read for all members of the US Air Force.5
I arrived at the 8th TAC Fighter Wing at Ubon, Thailand a year after Robin had left the base. People on base would tell me you should have been here when Robin was the Wing Commander. I enjoyed the fact that the writers didn’t try to make the book a PC product, they illustrated the real Robin Olds, crusty words and all. If you love flying and want a good account of what we do in the US Air Force then please buy this book, you will have a hard time putting it down. Chris Cline, MSgt, Ret. USAF, Overland Park, KS

Review

“This volume could not be more appropriately titled, because triple-ace Olds wanted to be a fighter pilot from when he was an air-corps brat just five years old. His daughter and an air-force colleague have assembled a mass of material he left behind at his death in 2007 into a gripping narrative that covers childhood, West Point, WWII, peacetime, and Vietnam as well as his long retirement. Not all the turbulence he encountered was in the air. His marriage to actress Ella Raines had its ups and downs, and he was by his own admission a reluctant staff officer and often a difficult, even wild, subordinate. At the same time, he gives us the portrait of a dedicated air warrior, the men who served with him, and U.S. fighters, both the sworn-by and the sworn-at, throughout a span of 30 years. Compelling reading, likely to become a classic.” Roland Green, Booklist

“Robin Olds is probably the greatest aerial warrior America ever produced.  He is the real deal, a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot, a consummate military professional, a natural, charismatic leader, and a true, heroic servant of our republic.  His autobiography tells it like it was… and provides written proof why the people who served with him made him a legend.  That men like Olds chose to wear our nation’s uniform does high honor to the profession.  I confidently predict that this book will be an instant classic.” –Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Disciple

“Robin Olds was bold, audacious and courageous; truly one of America premier fighter pilots. His captivating story, told in riveting fashion, provides great insights into his life and the attributes that make a great fighter pilot. Warning! If you start to read, you will have trouble putting it down!” –Henry H. Shelton, General, US Army (R), former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“Triple-ace Robin Olds’ legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom have been an inspiration to our nation and our Air Force. He is one of our ‘great captains’ and a pioneer of air power.” –General T. Michael Moseley (Ret.)

“Massively welcomed by his legion of fans.” –Walter J. Boyne, author and former director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“Brigadier General Robin Olds was the Commandant of Cadets at the Air Force Academy when I arrived there in 1968.  As such, he was my commander.  After serving over 34 years in the Air Force, I have encountered no one … repeat no one … who was a better leader, wartime commander, or judge of men.  He was larger than life; a legend.  This book superbly tells a smattering of his accomplishments … and it does so in his own words.  It is a must read for anyone who cares about Airpower or who wants to understand the lessons of the past.” –Michael M. Dunn, Lt General (Ret), USAF, President/CEO Air Force Association

“I just finished reading the draft.   What a remarkable book - I was absolutely riveted! The fascinating details, the way it captured the true maverick spirit of General Olds…his blunt honesty and absolute integrity, his triumphs and tragedies… made for one terrific read! What an amazing man - and one of America’s greatest warriors and leaders.  I was incredibly honored to have known him and to have featured him in my TV series. This is a must read for anyone who wants to get into the mind of a true fighter pilot and a brilliant leader. A truly remarkable book…I highly recommend it!” –Cynthia Harrison, Creator/Executive Producer, Dogfights for The History Channel

“This book is a must-read for all fighter pilots, history buffs, and patriots.  The stories will fascinate the aviation veteran but will be just as interesting to the ‘everyman’. General Olds was a legend, a leader, a hero, a role model, and a genuine Sierra Hotel character.” –T. Allan McArtor, Chairman, Airbus Americas, former FAA Administrator, and fighter pilot

Buy Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific At Amazon!

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific

Buy Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific At Amazon!

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Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific Description:

An unvarnished and moving memoir of a Marine veteran who fought his way across the Pacific Theater of World War II-whose story is featured in the upcoming HBO(r) series The Pacific

This is an eyewitness-and eye-opening-account of some of the most savage and brutal fighting in the war against Japan, told from the perspective of a young Texan who volunteered for the Marine Corps to escape a life as a traveling salesman. R.V. Burgin enlisted at the age of twenty, and with his sharp intelligence and earnest work ethic, climbed the ranks from a green private to a seasoned sergeant. Along the way, he shouldered a rifle as a member of a mortar squad. He saw friends die-and enemies killed. He saw scenes he wanted to forget but never did-from enemy snipers who tied themselves to branches in the highest trees, to ambushes along narrow jungle trails, to the abandoned corpses of hara kiri victims, to the final howling banzai attacks as the Japanese embraced their inevitable defeat.

An unforgettable narrative of a young Marine in combat, Islands of the Damned brings to life the hell that was the Pacific War.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1166 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-03-02
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 304 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780451229908
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

the last of the authentic voices5
R. V. Burgin is in the last wave of World War II memoirists, and just in time. For 35 years, he says, he never talked about the war. It was only recently, in part driven by his involvement with HBO’s dramatic miniseries “The Pacific,” which covers the campaigns he fought in, that he and other veterans felt comfortable opening up. This plainspoken, humble personal account is among the results. It is a valuable first-person narrative and belongs in any history reader’s library.

Burgin doesn’t opine about grand strategy or second-guess commanders. He focuses on what he knew: life as a grunt in a 60mm mortar platoon that saw some of the worst fighting of the war, from Cape Gloucester to Peleliu to Okinawa. The perspective is immediate: “We were fighting uphill now, advancing in a wide arc through the jungle. It was raining, always raining. Every stream was swollen and the ground was gumbo. Moving forward was like trying to walk through oatmeal. I was still carrying around that mortar base plate, but we couldn’t use it much because of the trees, so 90 percent of the time I took my place up front with the riflemen.” Every Marine is a rifleman, including the mortarmen.

Burgin wasn’t spared anything, and doesn’t spare anything in this touching book. Read it during the week, and immerse yourself in HBO’s miniseries on Sunday nights. You’ll learn something important about the humble men who won the War in the Pacific.

BRILLIANTLY DONE5
I was so lucky to to able to pick up aa advanced copy of ISLANDS OF THE DAMNED by R. V. Burin. What a book! It is easy to see why HBO would use it. This is another first hand account of the Pacific Theatre in WWII but don’t just throw it in the pile, it is better than that. Now, I don’t mean to knock the great WWII memoirs out there, check my reviews, I am a big fan. This is just to say Burgin has put together an exceptional book,filled with the human emotions that make war so insane but interesting. We watch him mature and rise in the ranks but more that rank into a tough seasoned Marine. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED whether you are a history buff, a Marine fan like me or just a reader. Go get this book.

Well worth reading4
It was a real pleasure to find another first person account of the Pacific war. As mentioned in other reviews, books like this are far and few between. Especially, since our World War Two veterans are passing away far too quickly.

This book was easy to read, flows very nicely, and isn’t burdened by large amounts of historical data. It’s personal account from the ground by a Marine who was really there. It does however, put into place the importance of the battles the author fought in.

In particular, I enjoyed the descriptions of living and fighting on the South Pacific islands. The book also contains the only example of a man using a bayonet in combat on any book I’ve ever read. Most importantly I think the book puts in perspective ghastly nature of the war in the Pacific, in particular the cave-to-cave fighting common among the campaigns.

Ironically, one of the major themes of the book is a love story. While I don’t normally seek out this type of theme in a history book (or any other book for that matter), the author does a fine job of making his place in history far more personal by doing so. The best part is, it only amplifies this situation, without it distracting from the historical narration.

This book makes for an excellent companion to the classic With the Old Breed by EB Sledge. If you enjoyed this book you would this book and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie…books I understand the mini-series The Pacific are heavily based on.

From Booklist
This well-narrated tale of a marine’s Pacific campaigns on New Britain, Peleliu, and Okinawa inevitably invites comparison with E. B. Sledge’s famed With the Old Breed (1981). Indeed, Sledge was part of Burgin’s mortar platoon in the latter two campaigns. But Burgin’s tale is more plainly told, as he was a Texas farm boy instead of a college student who dropped out of OCS to get into combat. But they were both good marines, who carried their weight through some of the ugliest fighting Americans have ever faced. One reads Burgin’s narrative knowing that he survived and smiles when he comes home to marry his Australian fiancée and settle down to a career in the Postal Service and a retirement of attending First Marine Division reunions. –Roland Green

Review
“An honest, straightforward memoir by an honest, straightforward man. Burgin has written an unforgettable, moving description of his experiences as an infantry Marine, from New Britain to Okinawa. The result is a classic combat account. I highly recommend this book.”
-John C. McManus, author of Alamo in the Ardennes and The Deadly Brotherhood

About the Author
As a Marine in World War II, R.V. Burgin was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.
William Marvel is a retired features writer for the Dallas Morning News.

The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World-Retail $26.95! Sale Only $17.79!

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World

The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World-Retail $26.95! Sale Only $17.79!

Compare & Purchase The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World at Amazon by clicking here!

List Price: $26.95

Amazon Price: $17.79

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The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World Description:

Imagine, if you can, the world of business - without corporate strategy.

Remarkably, fifty years ago that’s the way it was. Businesses made plans, certainly, but without understanding the underlying dynamics of competition, costs, and customers. It was like trying to design a large-scale engineering project without knowing the laws of physics.

But in the 1960s, four mavericks and their posses instigated a profound shift in thinking that turbocharged business as never before, with implications far beyond what even they imagined. In The Lords of Strategy, renowned business journalist and editor Walter Kiechel tells, for the first time, the story of the four men who invented corporate strategy as we know it and set in motion the modern, multibillion-dollar consulting industry:

- Bruce Henderson, founder of Boston Consulting Group
- Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company
- Fred Gluck, longtime Managing Director of McKinsey & Company
-Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor

Providing a window into how to think about strategy today, Kiechel tells their story with novelistic flair. At times inspiring, at times nearly terrifying, this book is a revealing account of how these iconoclasts and the organizations they led revolutionized the way we think about business, changed the very soul of the corporation, and transformed the way we work.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1978 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-04-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 320 pages

Customer Reviews:

A fascinating history of the development of strategic ideas5
Those who have studied business have probably heard of the Boston Consulting Group Matrix, the McKinsey 7-S Framework, Michael Porter’s Value Chain, and various other strategy tools. But where did they all come from, and how did the theory behind them develop? The former managing editor at Fortune Magazine, Walter Kiechel III, explains the history of ideas in the field of strategy over the past 40 years in this book.

This is the most interesting book on strategy that I have read, because it tells the story of the individuals and consulting firms who created the strategy concepts and tools which revolutionised corporations around the world towards the end of the 20th century. The idiosyncrasies of brilliant strategists are described, as are their struggles to have their ideas accepted. The author’s personal knowledge of the major players makes the narrative more compelling.

The author even-handedly discusses both the good points and the bad points of the various strategic ideas, but on the whole he is an admirer of the lords of strategy and tends to exonerate them from blame for the mess the world now finds itself in, whereas others might be inclined to accuse them of encouraging companies to undertake unwise levels of risk in order to maximise short-term shareholder returns. I found some parts of the book a bit dry, but for the most part it was highly engaging.

The True Influencers4
The debate over the value of high-level strategic consultants and academics has waged for decades. I was one such consultant for the better part of ten years who often spent the first part of any conversation defending my profession (I have since moved to advertising and now defend that profession). Kiechel covers the rise of strategy consulting firms–BCG, McKinsey, and Bain–and notable business school professors who contributed to the strategy revolution. His background provides the credibility to do so, he was a former Managing Editor at Fortune magazine and was the Editorial Director of Harvard Business Publishing from 1998 to 2002.

He sees the best strategists as objective intellectuals who see patterns of evidence and put them through conceptual frameworks to produce pragmatic insights. This largely began in the sixties and seventies when strategy began to be systematized and integrated. Cost, customer and competitors were the three primary areas strategists looked for patterns to exploit. In the nineties, the practices were more fad-like including reengineering and total quality management. This was the era I practiced in and I felt like the lone voice extolling the virtue of a simple but robust strategic planning process. I jumped for joy when in June, 1997, BusinessWeek had on their cover, The Return of Strategic Planning: Once More With Feeling. Which was the pivot point for Taylorism-like monitoring and measurement processes becoming more humanistic and holistic in their design.

The author tells some great industry stories but what struck me is just how important the role of strategy and management consultants is to business. The influence that such a small number of people and firms have had on modern business is truly staggering. This is where the subtitle of the book comes from: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World. Just a handful of models and frameworks devised by a small number of minds have been used by countless businesses to generate their strategies - this is what is so amazing.

From my experience, the best strategists retain a child-like wonder and a natural intellectual curiosity that is backed by analytic rigor - an incredibly hard combination of skills to possess in one person. I suggest this book only if you are interested in the history it covers and/or are a follower of the strategist value debate. In other words, this is not a strategy how-to book. Other books in this area I have read are The Management Myth, The McKinsey Mind, Rip-Off!, House of Lies, and Consulting Demons - so you may want to check them out too.

The Must Read Biz Book of 2010 (really)5
In the Lords of Strategy, Walter Kiechel deftly unpacks many of the ideas that many of us take for granted — from competitive advantage to value chain to core competencies — and explains their history, impact, and relevance with insight and wit. He takes material that could have been as dry as day-old toast and instead creates an engaging and compelling read.

Kiechel approaches his subject neither with reverence nor venom: he helps us understand the pioneering thinkers who created the world of “business strategy” by exploring the ways in which they reshaped the corporate landscape, how their personalities influenced their work, and the lasting impact (for better and worse) that they have had. He’s equally prescient about how the Lords bolstered the careers of their client CEOs and enriched shareholders (eventually) — and why, especially for middle managers, a deep consulting engagement can feel more like a rectal exam than an exercise in improving the company. He traces the rising dominance of left-brained analytical thinking in the consulting firm and the executive suite as well as the increasing “fierceness” of capitalism.

I’ve learned more reading this book than in any 10 average business books (and I’ve read a lot of them). It really is a must-read for anyone in business or entering the corporate world. It will explain much, prepare you well, and expand your understanding of contemporary business thinking.

Full disclosure: the author is a former colleague. The principal impact that has had on this review is that I can say unabashedly that in this book he demonstrates the same erudition, wit, and ability to bring together seemingly disparate ideas, people, and events into a thoroughly compelling narrative just as he did when we worked together. I’ve already purchased multiple copies of this book for associates so my money is co-located with my mouth.

About the Author
Walter Kiechel III has been the editorial director of Harvard Business Publishing and the managing editor at Fortune magazine. He has written articles and columns on all aspects of business, and is the author of a previous book, Office Hours: A Guide to the Managerial Life (Little, Brown, 1989). He received AB, MBA, and JD degrees from Harvard, and served five years in the U.S. Navy.