Book Review: The Innovators

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Author: Walter Issacson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN13: 9781471138799
Genre: Non fiction
Pages: 560
Source: Flipkart

A few decades ago, the very thought of having a world of information at our fingertips was unimaginable. The Internet and computers have changed the world forever, bringing a technological revolution with them to sweep us into the twenty-first century. However, the conception of these magnificent creations was a long process. It took the minds of geniuses whose ideas had the potential to turn heads and garner attention. These men and woman shaped the world into its current form with their ideas and inventions. Walter Isaacson begins with the story of Ada Lovelace, the woman who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He goes on to tell the stories of others like her, giants such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J. C. R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee and Larry Page.

The Innovators is an appropriately modest title, because many of the problems solved seem tiny on their own: a different configuration of electrodes, putting a film on a silicon wafer. Much of this is home cooking, solving everyday puzzles with the tools at hand. The story moves from science to the military to management, and the book is half over before the first lawsuit appears, after which they proliferate. The story also tends to travel from East to West. A subtheme is the overthrow of authoritarian chief executives and their besuited courtiers. The casualizing and revaluing of the business world by Silicon Valley cowboys is a founding myth of the tech industry, even as its CEOs grow ever more powerful.

In The Innovators Isaacson identifies several virtues that were essential to his geeky heroes’ success. The digital pioneers all loathed authority, embraced collaboration and prized art as much as science. Though its lessons may be prosaic, the book is still absorbing and valuable, and Isaacson’s  narrative talents are on full display. Few authors are more adept at translating technical jargon into graceful prose, or at illustrating how hubris and greed can cause geniuses to lose their way.

Walter Isaacson is an American biographer known for his books Kissinger: A Biography, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Einstein: His Life and Universe and Steve Jobs. He graduated from Harvard University and during his stay, he was President of the Signet Society, a member of the Harvard Lampoon and a resident of Lowell House. He later went on to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). He has also served as the Chairman and CEO of CNN and the Managing Editor of Time.

The Innovators is about how a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution. Its a must read for anyone and everyone looking to be inspired.

Rating 5/5

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Book Review: Love among the Bookshelves

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Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Penguin/ Viking
ISBN13: 9780670087341
Genre: non fiction
Pages: 200
Source: Flipkart

“It wasn’t a bookshop, or a library, or a great-aunt’s hoard of romantic novels that made me a reader; it was the week I spent in a forest rest house, in what is now the Rajaji sanctuary, between Haridwar and Dehradun” This is the first line I read and did not stop until I had read it all.
Ruskin Bond’s stories have amazed and inspired generations of readers. In this anthology, he presents the stories he grew up on, and the inspiration that he drew from them. In stories by authors such as P. G. Wodehouse, whose Love Among The Chickens is the inspiration for this book’s title, H. E. Bates, W. Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens and Richard Jeffries, learn how young Ruskin Bond became the writer we all know and love.
Bond speaks out in this part-memoir. He draws readers into his past and reveals a process hidden in plain sight, yet one every non-writer wishes to understand. He gives out his secret to being the brilliant writer in a word: “reading”

The book is divided into chronological sections. From his childhood and school vacations, school days, the time he spent in Jersey with his aunt and his two years in London. Each section has a memory that has stuck by him, a book that belongs to that time of his life and an excerpt from that book. The best thing about the book is a list of Ruskin Bonds favourite books.

Ruskin Bond is a British-Indian writer. He is known best for his children’s stories. Some of his works are: The Room on the Roof, A Flight of Pigeons, The Sensualist, The Blue Umbrella, Angry River and The Parrot Who Wouldn’t Talk. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contributions towards Indian literature. He now lives in in Landour, near Mussoorie with his adopted family.

Love among the Bookshelves is a classic Bond book. Its written simply yet there is something magical about it. It leaves you wanting more, much more.

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Supertraits of Superstars

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Author: Priyanka Singh Jha
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
ISBN13: 9788129129789
Genre: Non Fiction
Pages: 200
Source: Flipkart

Supertraits of Superstars: Success Secrets of Bollywood’s Brightest is a book which describes in detail the various traits of a few Bollywood actors that make them successful.
Priyanka Sinha Jha looks at eleven luminaries from Bollywood, and the attribute that is perhaps most responsible for their success. She details their stories, their struggles, their efforts to overcome setbacks, and what it is about them that made them not just reach the top of their game, but stay there. Be it Amitabh Bachchan’s discipline, Aamir Khan’s perfectionist nature, Salman Khan’s generosity, John Abraham’s enterprise or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s grace each star has one unique quality that others can imbibe to reach greater heights in their own lives. With pithy observations and inspirational conversations, Supertraits of Superstars will show you how to live life star-size.

Each chapter is dedicated to a particular star. The quotes and the caricatures of the artists at the beginning of their chapters is brilliantly done, this is followed by an introduction to their present status, name and fame in India and the world. It cites examples, incidences and dialogues from interviews to underline their distinctive features. It feels like you are reading your favourite Sunday newspaper column.

The author Priyanka Sinha Jha is an Indian journalist and author. She has written on a wide range of subjects starting from celebrities, films, to business. She is currently working as an editor with Screen, an entertainment weekly.

The book is a quick read which you wouldn’t want to put down once you begin.

Rating: 3.5/5