…and these are the best books I read in the second half of 2016:
The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson shows why Churchill was the right man at the right time. No one else in Britain could take on Hitler. Churchill knew that Hitler was someone who could not be stopped with words and treaties. He knew appeasement would not work. Without Churchill, the WWII may have turned out very different. Written with British brio by Johnson, who was mayor of London at the time he wrote it.
Swan King – Ludwig II of Bavaria by Christopher McIntosh
When I was walking through the Alps this summer I passed Neuschwannstein and Linderhof – two amazing monuments of the reign of Ludwig II, the last Bavarian king. This biography about Ludwig is well written. Besides Ludwig himself, I found so many interesting things: the relationship between Ludwig and Wagner, how Bavaria lost its independence to Germany.
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
This book is so much fun to read! Compelling portrait of an amazing woman who tried to make Russia a modern country. She embodies the enlightenment and corresponded with Voltaire and Diderot. Ultimately, however, she did not believe in democracy (in Russia at least) and was scared by the French revolution at the end of her reign.
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Amazing history of the American brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who mastered the first airplanes. This book is a thrill to read, and shows why innovation happens because of the perseverance of just a few driven individuals. I found it amazing to see that even years after they achieved succesfull flights, most people would still not believe it actually happened.
The Ancient Greeks by Edith Hall
This well written book places the Athenian Greeks of the 5th century BC in the context of their past and future. The Greeks loved pleasure, and were inquiring and open. This book reminded me again of the importance of culture – in a country as well as a company. It makes all the difference.
Pattern on the stone by Daniel Hillis
This is THE BEST introduction that I know of to how computers actually work down to their foundations. Very, very readable for non-programmers. Introduced me to the logic behind “universal computers”. This book also has a mind blowing episode about recursive algoritms. The simplicity and power of a recursive algoritm is a thing of beauty for me now.