20+ Book Recommendations by Kevin Kwok
From Third World to First
Lee Kuan YewFew gave tiny Singapore much chance of survival when it was granted independence in 1965. How is it, then, that today the former British colonial trading post is a thriving Asian metropolis with not only the world's number one airline, best airport, and busiest port of trade, but also the world's fourth–highest per capita real income? The story of that transformation is told here by Singapore's charismatic, controversial founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. Rising from a legacy of divisive colonialism, the devastation of the Second World War, and general poverty and disorder following the withdrawal of foreign forces, Singapore now is hailed as a city of the future. This miraculous history is dramatically recounted by the man who not only lived through it all but who fearlessly forged ahead and brought about most of these changes. Delving deep into his own meticulous notes, as well as previously unpublished government papers and official records, Lee details the extraordinary efforts it took for an island city–state in Southeast Asia to survive at that time. Lee explains how he and his cabinet colleagues finished off the communist threat to the fledgling state's security and began the arduous process of nation building: forging basic infrastructural roads through a land that still consisted primarily of swamps, creating an army from a hitherto racially and ideologically divided population, stamping out the last vestiges of colonial–era corruption, providing mass public housing, and establishing a national airline and airport. In this illuminating account, Lee writes frankly about his trenchant approach to political opponents and his often unorthodox views on human rights, democracy, and inherited intelligence, aiming always "to be correct, not politically correct." Nothing in Singapore escaped his watchful eye: whether choosing shrubs for the greening of the country, restoring the romance of the historic Raffles Hotel, or openly, unabashedly persuading young men to marry women as well educated as themselves. Today's safe, tidy Singapore bears Lee's unmistakable stamp, for which he is unapologetic: "If this is a nanny state, I am proud to have fostered one." Though Lee's domestic canvas in Singapore was small, his vigor and talent assured him a larger place in world affairs. With inimitable style, he brings history to life with cogent analyses of some of the greatest strategic issues of recent times and reveals how, over the years, he navigated the shifting tides of relations among America, China, and Taiwan, acting as confidant, sounding board, and messenger for them. He also includes candid, sometimes acerbic pen portraits of his political peers, including the indomitable Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the poetry–spouting Jiang Zemin, and ideologues George Bush and Deng Xiaoping. Lee also lifts the veil on his family life and writes tenderly of his wife and stalwart partner, Kwa Geok Choo, and of their pride in their three children –– particularly the eldest son, Hsien Loong, who is now Singapore's deputy prime minister. For more than three decades, Lee Kuan Yew has been praised and vilified in equal measure, and he has established himself as a force impossible to ignore in Asian and international politics. From Third World to First offers readers a compelling glimpse into this visionary's heart, soul, and mind.
Setting the Table
Danny MeyerA landmark, bestselling business book and a fascinating behind-the-scenes history of the creation of Danny's most famous eating establishments, Setting the Table is a treasure trove of valuable, innovative insights applicable to any business or organization.
The Park Chung Hee Era
Byung-Kook KimIn 1961 South Korea was mired in poverty. By 1979, it had a powerful industrial economy and a vibrant civil society that led to democracy eight years later. This volume examines the transformation as a study in the politics of modernization, contextualizing many historical ambiguities in South Korea s trajectory toward sustainable economic growth."
The Years of Lyndon Johnson
Robert A. CaroThe political biography of our time, now available in a four-volume hardcover set. Robert A. Caro's life of Lyndon Johnson is one of the richest, most intensive and most revealing examinations ever undertaken of an American president. It is the magnum opus of a writer perfectly suited to his task: the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer-historian, chronicler also of Robert Moses in The Power Broker, whose inspired research and profound understanding of the nature of ambition and the dynamics of power have made him a peerless explicator of political lives. "Taken together the installments of Mr. Caro's monumental life of Johnson . . . form a revealing prism by which to view the better part of a century in American life and politics during which the country experienced tumultuous and divisive social change. . .Gripping." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "By writing the best presidential biography the country has ever seen, Caro has forever changed the way we think, and read, American history . . . It's his immense talent as a writer that has made his biography of Johnson one of America's most amazing literary achievements . . . As absorbing as a political thriller . . .A masterpiece, unlike any other work of American history published in the past. It's true that there will never be another Lyndon B. Johnson, but there will never be another Robert A. Caro, either." -NPR "One of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. A masterpiece" --The Times (London) The Path to Power reveals the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy, and urge to power that set LBJ apart. Chronicling the startling early emergence of Johnson's political genius, it follows him from his Texas boyhood through the years of the Depression in the Texas Hill Country to the triumph of his congressional debut in New Deal Washington, to his heartbreaking defeat in his first race for the Senate, and his attainment, nonetheless of the national power for which he hungered. National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction Means of Ascent follows Johnson through his service in World War II to the foundation of his long-concealed fortune and the facts behind the myth he created about it. The explosive heart of the book is Caro's revelation of the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election, which Johnson had to win or face certain political death, and which he did win--by "87 votes that changed history." Caro makes us witness to a momentous turning point in American politics; the tragic last stand of the old politics versus the new--the politics of issue versus the politics of image, mass manipulation, money and electronic dazzle. National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography Master of the Senate carries Johnson's story through his twelve remarkable years in the Senate. It is an unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done. In a breathtaking tour de force, Caro details Johnson's amazing triumph in maneuvering to passage the first civil rights legislation since 1875. Pulitzer Prize in Biography Los Angeles Times Book Award in Biography National Book Award in Nonfiction The Passage of Power is an unparalleled account of the battle between Johnson and John Kennedy for the 1960 presidential nomination, of the machinations behind Kennedy's decision to offer Johnson the vice presidency, of Johnson's powerlessness and humiliation in that role, and of the savage animosity between Johnson and Robert Kennedy. In Caro's description of the Kennedy assassination, which The New York Times called "the most riveting ever," we see the events of November 22, 1963, for the first time through Lyndon Johnson's eyes. And we watch as his political genius enables him to grasp the reins of the presidency with total command and, within weeks, make it wholly his own, surmounting unprecedented obstacles in order to fulfill the highest purpose of the office. National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography "Brilliant . . . Important . . . Remarkable ... In sparkling detail, Caro shows Johnson's genius for getting to people--friends, foes, and everyone in between--and how he used it to achieve his goals...With this fascinating and meticulous account, Robert Caro has once again done America a great service."-- President Bill Clinton, The New York Times Book Review (front cover) "The politicians' political book of choice...An encyclopedia of dirty tricks that would make Machiavelli seem naïve." London Literary Review "Making ordinary politics and policymaking riveting and revealing is what makes Caro a genius. Combined with his penetrating insight and fanatical research, Caro's Churchill-like prose elevates the life of a fairly influential president to stuff worthy of Shakespeare. . .Robert Caro stands alone as the unquestioned master of the contemporary American political biography." The Boston Globe
William CrononArgues that the American frontier and city developed together by focusing on Chicago and tracing its roots from Native American habitation to its transformation by white settlement and development
Debt - Updated and Expanded
David GraeberA revised and updated edition of the international bestseller. Graeber, one of the early organisers of Occupy Wall Street and a well regarded academic, presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom; he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods, long before the invention of cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we first see a society divided between debtors and creditors.
Merchants of Debt
George AndersFirst published in 1992 (by Basic Books), this reprint is timely now in the wake of Enron and WorldCom. Anders tells the story of how Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) took advantage of Wall Street's tolerance of debt to finagle massive corporate takeovers of companies that included Safeway, Drexel, and
Christopher LeonardNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2019 * WINNER OF THE J ANTHONY LUKAS WORK-IN-PROGRESS AWARD * FINANCIAL TIMES’ BEST BOOKS OF 2019 * NPR FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2019 * FINALIST FOR THE FINACIAL TIMES/MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF 2019 * KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOKS OF 2019 * SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOKS OF 2019 “Superb…Among the best books ever written about an American corporation.” —Bryan Burrough, The New York Times Book Review Just as Steve Coll told the story of globalization through ExxonMobil and Andrew Ross Sorkin told the story of Wall Street excess through Too Big to Fail, Christopher Leonard’s Kochland uses the extraordinary account of how one of the biggest private companies in the world grew to be that big to tell the story of modern corporate America. The annual revenue of Koch Industries is bigger than that of Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and US Steel combined. Koch is everywhere: from the fertilizers that make our food to the chemicals that make our pipes to the synthetics that make our carpets and diapers to the Wall Street trading in all these commodities. But few people know much about Koch Industries and that’s because the billionaire Koch brothers have wanted it that way. For five decades, CEO Charles Koch has kept Koch Industries quietly operating in deepest secrecy, with a view toward very, very long-term profits. He’s a genius businessman: patient with earnings, able to learn from his mistakes, determined that his employees develop a reverence for free-market ruthlessness, and a master disrupter. These strategies made him and his brother David together richer than Bill Gates. But there’s another side to this story. If you want to understand how we killed the unions in this country, how we widened the income divide, stalled progress on climate change, and how our corporations bought the influence industry, all you have to do is read this book. Seven years in the making, Kochland “is a dazzling feat of investigative reporting and epic narrative writing, a tour de force that takes the reader deep inside the rise of a vastly powerful family corporation that has come to influence American workers, markets, elections, and the very ideas debated in our public square. Leonard’s work is fair and meticulous, even as it reveals the Kochs as industrial Citizens Kane of our time” (Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Private Empire).
The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan DidionAn autobiographical portrait of marriage and motherhood by the acclaimed author details her struggle to come to terms with life and death, illness, sanity, personal upheaval, and grief.
The Color of Law
Richard RothsteinLauded by Ta-Nehisi Coates for his "brilliant" and "fine understanding of the machinery of government policy" (The Atlantic), Richard Rothstein has painstakingly documented how American cities, from San Francisco to Boston, became so racially divided. Rothstein describes how federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning, public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities, subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs, tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation, and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. He demonstrates that such policies still influence tragedies in places like Ferguson and Baltimore. Scholars have separately described many of these policies, but until now, no author has brought them together to explode the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces. Like The New Jim Crow, Rothstein's groundbreaking history forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.
James B. StewartDisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war, told by one of our most acclaimed writers and reporters.
Catch and Kill
Ronan FarrowIn this instant New York Times bestselling account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost. In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood's most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family. All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance they could not explain -- until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood to Washington and beyond. This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it's the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement. Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook our culture. INDIE BOUND #1 BESTSELLERUSA TODAY BESTSELLERWALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER
Caro's Book of Poker Tells
Mike CaroOne of the ten greatest books written on poker, this must-have book should be in every player's library. If you're serious about winning, you'll realize that most of the profit comes from being able to read your opponents. Caro reveals the secrets of interpreting tells - physical reactions that reveal information about a player's cards - such as shrugs, sighs, shaky hands, eye contact, and many more. Learn when opponents are bluffing, when they aren't and why - based solely on their mannerisms. Over 170 photos of players in action and play-by-play examples show the actual tells. These powerful ideas will give you the decisive edge. 320 pages
Robert CoramJohn Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever -- the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country's most legendary fighter aircraft -- the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd as the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu. They know only half the story. Boyd, more than any other person, saved fighter aviation from the predations of the Strategic Air Command. His manual of fighter tactics changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights. He discovered a physical theory that forever altered the way fighter planes were designed. Later in life, he developed a theory of military strategy that has been adopted throughout the world and even applied to business models for maximizing efficiency. And in one of the most startling and unknown stories of modern military history, the Air Force fighter pilot taught the U.S. Marine Corps how to fight war on the ground. His ideas led to America's swift and decisive victory in the Gulf War and foretold the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On a personal level, Boyd rarely met a general he couldn't offend. He was loud, abrasive, and profane. A man of daring, ferocious passion and intractable stubbornness, he was that most American of heroes -- a rebel who cared not for his reputation or fortune but for his country. He was a true patriot, a man who made a career of challenging the shortsighted and self-serving Pentagon bureaucracy. America owes Boyd and his disciples -- the six men known as the "Acolytes" -- a great debt. Robert Coram finally brings to light the remarkable story of a man who polarized all who knew him, but who left a legacy that will influence the military -- and all of America -- for decades to come. ..