[April 09, 2014] Two really good books for our readers. It is no surprise that I’m still catching up on my reading after a couple of months with a heavy overseas travel schedule. These books are excellent reads any time. The first by Dale Carnegie is an oldie but goodie – it’s the type you can pick up at any point. Taleb’s book takes some mental concentration but is a great book worth perhaps reading and then re-reading someday.
Lincoln the Unknown. Dale Carnegie
First published in 1932 this is an old book with lessons for senior leaders today. Dale Carnegie, of course, is famous for his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The Lincoln book is similar to a bibliography that focuses much of the story on his younger days. Carnegie puts the book on a good foundation because it shows how Lincoln developed from being abysmally poor and having so many problems to eventually become President of the United States. From the book, it seems like we get to know Lincoln as a person, and better than we would have known him. We can see how his leadership character develops throughout. It’s hard to find a hardback edition but I read the 1959 copy right edition signed as a gift to my father from his Dale Carnegie class on April 20, 1982.
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Probably the best book I’ve read in over two years. Taleb presents a number of original ideas that help explain why many common events occur yet we have been unable to predict them with any success nor prepare for them in any meaningful way. One of his main points is that people and systems are made better by disorder and varied experiences (the antifragile) yet society attempts to remove all them (which makes us fragile to change). It is interesting that cultures have a word for “fragile” (meaning easily broken) but not for the opposite “antifragile” (which means improved under stress). Robustness is antifragile but only a part because robustness does not describe improvement. Many thought provoking ideas of interest and a worthwhile read.
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