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Satellites of the Outer Planets: Worlds in Their Own Right
Satellites of the Outer Planets: Worlds in Their Own Right
by David A. Rothery
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geology Meets Space Exploration, 19 Jan 2014
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I really enjoyed this book. I read it for fun and got as lot from it. It explains what scientists saw on these moons of the outer planets and how they have endeavoured to interpret them. Some are simple, but important - impact craters. Some are a little more subtle - plate tectonics where the solid plates are methane and nitrogen ice.

As someone who works in research on a completely different subject, it got me thinking about how I observe data and interpret it. The satellites of the outer planets is based on small machines flying past large objects and immense speeds often only gaining fleeting glimpses from which whole concepts are built. Also, the classic problem of just a few more observations and we will know ...


Global Tectonics
Global Tectonics
by Philip Kearey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 35.96

3.0 out of 5 stars A Hard Read That Blew My Mind, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Global Tectonics (Paperback)
This is a review of the second edition.

Although I too picked this up because it was listed in an Open University course as a good read, I read it for fun. I thought I understood plate tectonics but this book really opened my eyes. There is a lot more going on under my feet than I realised!

The book does come across as a bit "jumpy". It describes the history of geological thinking about a particular puzzle and so takes the reader from "wrong" answers to "right" ones backed up with lots of diagrams illustrating lots of ideas and possibilities (e.g. 12 types of transform faults in one diagram). Some of the writing was hard reading and even though the diagrams look great they took some thought.

I suspect that this book merits deeper study than I gave it. I also think its disjointed nature reflects the enormous complexity of the topic. I came away with the impression that it is very hard to generalise. Every plate boundary is different - because of their history, size and age (how do you compare the Himalayas with the Caribbean?). Maybe that's the wrong lesson but it was mine.

If you are looking for a fun read about geology, this isn't it. If you want to chew through a lot of ideas, this might be for you.


Management and Motivation (Penguin business)
Management and Motivation (Penguin business)
by Victor H. Vroom
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Too Old Now, 19 Jan 2014
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I hate giving this three stars. But I think it is too out of date now to be taken too seriously as a book. The ideas it contains are another matter.

This is a collection of articles from the 1940s to the 1960s published in 1970. It summarises the classic texts on motivational theories at the time and covers a range of thought from the psychological, sociological and economic - touchy-feely to hard nosed "show me the money". In that sense, it is an essential read for the serious student of management history.

If a reader wants to know more modern approaches, read a more modern organizational behaviour text - there are many! They will, almost always, refer to the works in this book, summarise them and offer more modern approaches and distillations of these ideas.

I enjoyed this book as a piece of history, as a paperback to read through quickly and enjoy, rather than study and seek guidance from for today.


What I Didn't Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World
What I Didn't Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World
by Jay Barney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Reality Bites!, 19 Jan 2014
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I love novelised management books. Love them. This one is a little cracker. Young person, new job, out on assignment, tricky customers, new technology, doing research, crunching numbers ... sounds ... tedious. But it was really good. It was about that gap between education and application.

I would recommend this book to any young professional or people who work with them and watch them go into shock when working life is not like the books. The transition is hard. It can feel hurtful and personal. But, old so-and-sos like me (in engineering, not management consulting in my case) are not trying to slay young upstarts but rather help them develop into the great professionals that they can be.

I got a lot from this book - much of it reflecting upon the secondary characters rather than the main one. My only complaint is that the main character seemed more naive than I think a fresh MBA would really be and his new firm not as supportive as I think a firm would really be. Then again, that's an important part of the story.


A Sense of Urgency
A Sense of Urgency
by John P Kotter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: A Sense of Urgency (Hardcover)
Other reviewers all make fair points. John Kotter is one of the greats at studying leading and managing change. His ideas are therefore of great value. He has come to the view that the key is that the people involved feel the necessary urgency of change. That can read like a very simplistic thought (compare with personal change such as weight loss or stopping smoking). However, it is still a powerful thought. The book is short and to the point and worth a read for anyone interested in leadership and change. It backs up the main point with techniques to get people thinking that urgency matters and anecdotes as to how others have managed it. My experience in my firm is that until they think they are about to lose their jobs they don't see any need; and then all they want to do is lash out and blame.

I found it inspiring stuff. Perhaps having the unabridged audio in the car for long journeys would have been better for me.


Becoming the Best: How to Gain Company-wide Commitment to Total Quality
Becoming the Best: How to Gain Company-wide Commitment to Total Quality
by Barry Popplewell
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars 1980s TQM Told as a Novel, 19 Jan 2014
This book feels so out of date and yet it still applies. I like novelised business and management books that explain ideas through the stories of characters involved in (almost always) change. This one, like them all, is a little light and simplistic, but at the same time, makes the necessary points about what is needed to become a better (best) company. The good thing about this book is the economic reality (well, perhaps accountancy reality) that forces the changes across the board.

In 1988 (when this book came out) a rule in the sales and accounts dept. caused chaos. In 2014 (as I write) a service dept. in my co. is causing chaos by simply being ... unhelpful. (Reminds me of the book "Empowered").

If you work in a modern, enlightened company you will regard this book as a historic anachronism. If you work in an organisation with unenlightened regions you will find this book so resonant. I can only hope that in another 25 years this book is funny for being out of date instead being sad that so little has changed in so many places.


Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First Three Million Years
Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First Three Million Years
by Robert J. Wenke
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Story of Human Social Development, 19 Jan 2014
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book (4th edition). It was informative, interesting, entertaining and uplifting. It does what it says on the cover. It describes how we developed - agriculture, religion, social forms - over vast periods of time and across the whole planet.

My only personal disappointment was the last quarter of the book which describes societies one by one around the world rather than the underlying themes. For me - perhaps it is just me - the book fizzled out a bit towards the end. I would still recommend it for any human who wonders how we ended up like we are.


Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business
Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business
by Josh Bernoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.35

3.0 out of 5 stars Re-engineering 2?, 19 Jan 2014
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This book is a description of some of the facts of new technological, social and economic realities. The power that customers (clients? victims?) can wield over company reputations through the interweb is laid out with delightful clarity. I am not a young man, but even I knew that. It also pointed out that the Pareto principle (the 80:20 rule) is alive and well. It then suggests that business needs good people who want to serve customers (clients) and use modern IT to do so. The overall message reminded me so much of the principles of re-engineering outlined 20+ years ago: only a small portion of what you do matters, do it better (time and money) and you will do better (the classic example being purchasing in a large motor manufacturer making big savings both on the purchases and the processes to make them). The emphasis in this book is more on quality/service than time and money but the implication is that will come if you get the service/quality right. It further talks about supporting those good people - with IT - to support customers.

Perhaps it's me. I work in a big, stodgy engineering company. It is almost our mission statement that "customers don't know squat". So, perhaps I just don't see what this book stands for. The other reviews are so positive - life changing! - but for me, it was a bunch of (interesting and useful) stuff that has been around for a long time.


Vulcan (Star Trek)
Vulcan (Star Trek)
by Kathleen Sky
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars 1970s Star Trek Paperback, 19 Jan 2014
It is a Star Trek adventure from the 1970s. One of the earliest original stories. It was a pleasant way to while away 4 hours. If you are a hard core Trekkie some of the imagined story lines don't work. Ho hum! It's science fiction. Enjoy!


Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World: The Secret History of the New Corporate World
Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World: The Secret History of the New Corporate World
by Walter Kiechel Iii
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.08

4.0 out of 5 stars A history of Management Ideas - More Please!, 19 Jan 2014
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This is a very interesting book about how the concept of business strategy evolved from the 1960s to the present day. It talks about the gurus - consultants and intellectuals - of business strategy and how their ideas (and egos!) developed over time. It talked about the problems with the ideas and the difficulties people had delivering them in the "real world".

It made me think about all of the hours I spent reading the books talked about ... not necessarily wasted but ... perhaps not the best preparation for a managerial career.

My only disappointment with the book was towards the end. The most recent events in business history were described briefly and the strategic component lost a little among all the financial chaos. But, to be honest, that is nit picking on my part. This is a cracking book and I would recommend it for anyone embarking on an MBA or who is just interested in ideas about business, management and economics. It makes you think about other ideas and trends that "come and go" - remember TQM anyone?


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