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The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
by Erik Brynjolfsson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing, 26 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
From the dubious definition of "human social development" and its correlation with technology onwards, this is a glib, shiny and typically messianic product of the new Silicon Valley elite. Most strikingly, it fails to substantiate the central case that explosive computing power will deliver something more than mildly amusing new apps, improvements in your daily commute and even more whizzy social media functionality. This book is to the technologists what "Dow 40,000" was for the late 1990s stockmarket - the latest fandango taken to logical conclusions that will probably be, er, wrong.


Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World
Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World
by William D. Cohan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice try - no cigar (maybe cigars not available), 15 Aug. 2013
After Cohan's utterly compelling Last Tycoons (surely the best business book ever written) and the jaw dropping House of Cards, I was as excited as an investment banking nerd can be when I heard that Goldman was next up for the Cohan treatment. This really had to be the number on Goldman, right?

Alas, for those of you hoping for the real deal, the wait continues. This is a fine read, no doubt, and Cohan really comes as close as you can to understanding how the bank works and some of the tricks of the trade embedded in its wonderful model. But in the end, there just isn't enough inside insight into the personalities, the power struggles and the transactions to really match his earlier reads.

There can be two explanations for this. Conventional wisdom says it's because nobody at Goldman ever talks out of school so the concept of a Michel David Weill spilling the beans over cigars cannot exist in the Goldman diaspora - therefore, the truth is out there but omerta means you won't find out what it is. But I think that conspiracy theory is Goldman's best PR.

An alternative view on why the great work on Goldman hasn't been written is more prosaic: it's boring. There isn't a Bruce Wasserstein or an Andre Meyer or an Ace Greenberg (manufacturing by turn brilliant coups or stunning disasters) in this story. It's a type A machine full of rich people - and that's about it.


Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.31

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly disappointing, 15 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After so much hype, I was really expecting a riveting read here but Apple followers will be a bit let down. The first two thirds of the book cover (obviously) identical ground to iCon (the previous comprehensive biography) and really don't add anything to that. The remaining third is really a whizz through the years of triumph without a lot of the juice, especially in the battles with the music companies which I recall were much more fraught and brutal than depicted here, with not too much fly on the wall dialogue. It's a record - but that's it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2014 9:23 PM BST


What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism
What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism
by Philip Delves Broughton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond received wisdom, 15 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'd kind of understood what went on at HBS before reading Broughton's book - the egos, the artificial competitiveness, the worked up angst over points of business principle and noble protests over matters of School policy are universal features among would be elites (think your University debating society). Meanwhile, on the local council estate.....

But what was most revealing about this one was actually the last third of the book where the HBS graduates start to have contact with the real world of business and on this Broughton is merciless and right on the money in the best de-bunking of received wisdom on professional life I have read in a long time. Some bottom lines: private equity is comprised of bureaucrats with leverage who don't add much value; investment banking pays a lot but stinks as a lifestyle choice, a lot of practitioners hate working in it; venture capital doesn't involve much adventure and tends towards rather conservative groupthink; a lot of digital corporations are an unstructured mess. And the absolute bullseye: most of the graduates from the BRIC emerging markets have no intention of returning home to those brutal places....they'd rather be, er, US corporate executives.

That's not how it looks on CNBC or in the WSJ, is it? But if ever there was a manifesto for NOT going to business school, this comes close. It would be easy to brush off Broughton's analysis as the typical snarky European view of a successful US system. But I am sure even the founding fathers would have at least something to say about the dire state of the entrepreneurial frontier spirit after reading this terrible indictment of what America's best and brightest are being trained up for. Is this really what built the home of the brave? Don't think so.


Margin Call [DVD]
Margin Call [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Spacey
Price: £6.96

5.0 out of 5 stars This is Wall Street, 20 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
Captures brilliantly the soulless, antiseptic brutality of the modern investment banking industry. The only mystery is why anyone wants to work there - but I guess there's an answer to that too.


The Presentation Coach: Bare Knuckle Brilliance For Every Presenter
The Presentation Coach: Bare Knuckle Brilliance For Every Presenter
by Graham Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars By pros for those who would like to be....., 9 April 2013
The Presentation Coach is aptly named. If you are looking for some simple tips on making the best man's speech, you are probably in the wrong place and there are many titles who will supply the necessary in a few pages. If on the other hand you are looking for a way to become a genuinely exciting and effective presenter, this is the book you are seeking. For a start, it treats you like an adult - do you want to do this or not? If so, get serious about the process and understand what the audience wants and how to give it to them. And unlike most business books (which like horoscopes shoot for the lowest common denominator), you feel you are getting the full story and the real deal, not the teaser to make you sign up for the course (or whatever). Compelling, comprehensive, convincing.


Any Given Sunday [DVD] [1999]
Any Given Sunday [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Al Pacino
Price: £3.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Zeitgeist nailed again by Oliver Stone, 22 Dec. 2005
Oliver Stone's ability to deliver the essential movie that also captures the spirit of the times (cf Wall Street, Platoon) is amply demonstrated again here. Surely one of the great sports movies ever, I also loved Any Given Sunday for the way it and its pumping soundtrack captured the spirit of the late 1990s - decadent, frenetic, ruthless, shallow. Watch alongside Chariots of Fire...and see how low we've stooped.


Bombon El Perro [DVD]
Bombon El Perro [DVD]
Dvd ~ Juan Villegas
Price: £8.83

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaggy dog story, 24 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Bombon El Perro [DVD] (DVD)
A very funny gem of a film if you are looking for an antidote to the latest repackaged Hollywood rom-com. In the big bleak country of Argentine patagonia, this is the story of the little guy who gets just a bit bigger with the help of a very large Dogo Argentino (which is a breed actually banned in the UK for its ferocity). Wonderful photography and tremendous Spanish machismo mix with a very funny deadpan script - buy it.


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