The Prince

The Prince by Machiavelli is is a great book with a terrible reputation. Essentially the book is about leadership and it has some really practical recommendations for anyone who finds themselves in charge of people, including how to effectively manage workplace politics. I know what you’re thinking, “isn’t this the guy who said that it’s better to be feared than loved?” Yeah, but the part of that quote that everyone has forgotten is that it also says “so long as you’re not hated” and then discusses why you shouldn’t be a tyrant. In effect, the author was saying that you shouldn’t be excessively chummy with people who work for you because they won’t respect you if you are, which is true. He also says that you shouldn’t be a jerk and spends as much time on this subject as he does with his more famous advice.

This is a short book that is easily listened to in the car on audiobook (how I listened to it) and it is both historical and highly relevant to management today. I highly recommend this great work for anyone with an interest in history or who is in a position of leadership in the workplace.

Dr. Leonardo Noto

Author: The Life of a Colonial Fugitive, Intrusive Memory, and The Cannabinoid Hypothesis.

Link to my books: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Leonardo+Noto

Stalking the Red Bear

Stalking the Red Bear: The True Story of a U.S. Cold War Submarine’s Covert Operations Against the Soviet Union, by Peter T. Sasgen, is a fast-paced Cold War thriller that happens to also be a true story. The book is written and reads like a novel, an impressive accomplishment for what is, in effect, a memoir of a pseudo-war. Peter Sasgen’s writing really paints the claustrophobic, paranoid, sterile environment of the submarine in your mind and the story about tapping Soviet wire cables, and what these guys went through to accomplish their mission, is absolutely remarkable. I highly recommend this book; it will make you even more glad than you were before that the Cold War is over and that it ended without a nuclear holocaust as the final act.

Dr. Leonardo Noto

My Books (linked to Amazon)!

The Real History of the American Revolution/Cold War

The Real History of the American Revolution and The Real History of the Cold War are two concisely written and easily readable historical accounts of their respective subjects. Both books are fast paced, yet informative, and both are peppered with excellent illustrations that greatly complement the text. If you are looking for a concise, nonideological, guide to either the American Revolution or the Cold War, I highly recommend the you check out these books. Neither is comprehensive — if they were they would not be easy reads — but both books are historically accurate and good reviews for the well-informed and good previews for newcomers.

Dr. Leonardo Noto

My Books (click on image to be taken to Amazon)!

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson is one of the better biographies that I have ever read. Written by the author of the best-selling biography of Steve Jobs (I haven’t read that one yet, but it is on the “to do” list), this biography of America’s first great author, scientist, and foreign statesman (in addition to a lot of other things) is both highly informative and highly entertaining.

The book starts by examining Franklin’s early life, a life that was marked by his amazing entrepreneurial drive that began before the boy was even a teenager. Before he had hit the age of majority, Ben Franklin had established himself as a potent author of politics and satire and was well on the road to becoming the greatest printer in The Colonies. In spite of these domestic accomplishments, Franklin also found the time to journey to Britain, the first in a series of foreign forays that would make him contacts that would serve his nascent country well during the Revolution half a century later.

The book does not skimp on Franklin’s sometimes ambiguous morality (although his morality was not nearly as coldly practical as many of his detractors later claimed) and the author also devotes a fair amount of time to Franklin-the-scientist, a role which would have earned Franklin a place in history in and of itself.

I highly recommend this engaging and informative biography of a man who was truly a great American, a title which is thrown out to often nowdays but is completely true of Ben Franklin. I personally listened to this book in its audiobook format and I found the narrator’s voice to be pleasant and easy on the ears.

Dr. Leonardo Noto

My books (click on the links to be taken to Amazon)!

Great Promotional This Weekend

Well folks, I’m happy to say that this weekends promotional giveaway went really well. I gave away 1500 books and the reviews are already coming in on Amazon. Thanks to everyone for your help with getting my work out there. I’m busy typing away at Book #4 and researching Book #5–I hope to release Three Years in the Army: A Doctor’s Journey in the Green Uniform (memoir) next month and Cadaveric Constitution (a novel) by the end of the year. Now back to work!

Dr. Leonardo Noto

Europa Universalis 3

In the spirit of the weekend, let’s take a break from reviewing nonfiction books and spend some time with the good ole’ videogames. Europa Universalis 3 is a turned-based strategy game in which you can play virtually any country in the world from 1399-to-The Napoleonic Wars. That’s right, it lets you choose both your start date and what country you want to play as. Our definition of what consists of victory is up to you (reunite Italy, conquer Europe, conquer the world–good luck with that last one).

The game is incredibly detailed and historically accurate but also manages to be easy to learn how to play, a rare combination in the world of turn-based strategy, where historical accuracy and ease-of-play tend to be inversely proportional. The simulation of the American Revolution (start the game in 1776 and select The Colonies as your country) is solidly constructed as is every other starting period that I’ve tried (I’ve reunifed Italy twice before the year 1500–once with Venice and once with Naples). I’ve yet to try the Napoleonic Wars scenario, but now that I think on it, that sounds like a great armchair general war for tonight!

Dr. Leonardo Noto

My Books (click on image to be taken to Amazon)!

 

The World is Flat and Hot, Flat, and Crowded (Book Review)

The World is Flat and Hot, Flat, and Crowded are geopolitical books by New York Times and Foreign Affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman. The World is Flat, which is currently available in its 3rd edition, is about globalization and the current and probable future effects of the “flattening” of the world that is being brought about by advances in communication (particularly via the internet) and transportation (particularly massive container ships). Hot, Flat, and Crowded is the sequel to The World is Flat and it examines the environmental consequences of billions of people being brought up to a Western style of lifestyle by the “flattening” effects of globalization.

The second book is highly political, but it contains ideas that will offend both the right and the left (American political spectrum). For instance, one of the reasons that the author strongly advocates for getting away from a petroleum-based economy is his argument (which is convincing) that oil exporting nations tend to be substantially less democratic than oil poor nations and that nations even tend to regress democratically when oil is newly discovered. Similarly, the book harps on the idea that humans are essentially destroying our environment, a theory that is contentious in the United States. However, given that several “Chinas” worth of people will be moving into a Western-style of middle class lifestyle in the decades to come, it is hard to argue with many of the author’s conclusions regardless of your political views.

I highly recommend both The World is Flat and Hot, Flat, and Crowded. I listened to both of these works on audiobook and the narrator had a good voice that was not boring or sleep-inducing. Both are excellent books either for at home or in the car.

Dr. Leonardo Noto

My Books (click on the images and it takes you to Amazon)!