Felix Crux

Technology & Miscellanea 

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I just dug up a couple of book reviews (on The Senate of the Roman Republic, Execution, and Economics for Everyone) I wrote on a flight a while ago and forgot to post. The recent moniker doesn't really apply anymore, though.

The Senate of the Roman Republic

A superb and easy to follow account of the political history of Rome, with particular emphasis on the early days. It is rendered all the more remarkable by the fact that it is a transcript of a series of lectures given without the aid of notes or slides by the late U.S. Senator Robert Byrd in response to his perception of a lack of historical education in Congress. Naturally such a relatively slim volume cannot cover such a massive subject in great detail, but the chosen highlights provide a cohesive and logical narrative that elucidates the key themes of the political development of Roman society. The book's primary weakness is unfortunately it's stated goal: it does not provide much in the way of direct analogy to modern political issues, beyond very general themes of integrity, separation of powers, checks and balances, and their changes over time. Well worth reading as a political history, even if you have to draw your own conclusions about the present.

( Amazon.com )

Execution

A sadly disappointing collection of platitudes. Although convincingly describing execution of ideas as the key driver of success, it offers little in the way of advice on actually executing, focusing instead on knowing yourself and putting the right people in the right place. There is too much attention paid to the executives themselves (and their strategic retreats in Boca Raton), and too little to the people who actually do the front-line work. In fact, the workers are treated with contempt: in a particularly chilling anecdote, an engineering manager is harshly chastised for standing up for his employees who did not want to be re-assigned to report to a sales department, and the engineers are shipped off against their will. The authors present this as an example of successful conflict management, despite not even asking why the engineers were unhappy. Overall, not much more than a high-level pep talk.

( Amazon.com · Amazon.com Kindle · Amazon.ca )

Economics for Everyone

A solid but highly slanted description of basic economic principles. Rather than a straightforward description of how economic systems function, it supplements every section with critiques of capitalism and hypotheses for alternative arrangements. If you want to theorize about alternatives, it is an intriguing book, but if you just want to know how the modern economy functions, look elsewhere.

( Amazon.com · Amazon.ca )


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