Maksim Stepanenko

Maksim Stepanenko

co-founder @primer past: @coinbase, @MIT

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30+ Book Recommendations by Maksim Stepanenko

  • "Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students' skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity--in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. [He examines] why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy"--Dust jacket flap.

    Recommended reading at Primer. If you're seriously looking at doing something in education, this is *the* book to read on systemic problems in the space. https://t.co/EntFU70ism

  • Describes how Faraday and Maxwell discovered the electromagnetic field and devised a radical new theory which overturned the strictly mechanical view of the world that had prevailed since Newton's time.

    Enjoyed this book. A few things that stood out: - Faraday's lack of a strong math foundation - how non-consensus his ideas were despite all the experimental evidence - both Faraday and Maxwell's focus on proving everything experimentally for themselves https://t.co/asCdJnceVi

  • Watch this stream with your kids and then buy this book for them https://t.co/SIX22WEjCW https://t.co/0flWDftjd1

  • omg @stripepress is republishing The Art of Doing Science and Engineering! This is one of my all-time favorite books. I even printed it myself through https://t.co/oDGSM3y0AF, because I couldn't find a physical copy. Some of my notes are here: https://t.co/yvT1KWWhiK https://t.co/kSzm6Ullzn

  • The Timeless Way of Building

    Christopher Alexander

    This introductory volume to Alexander's other works, A Pattern of Language and The Oregon Experiment, explains concepts fundamental to his original approaches to the theory and application of architecture

    @tjrwriting https://t.co/Rlv87xr0mp

  • The 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

    Finished reading the first 2. Among many other things, this bio is a primer on what it means to “will things into existence” and to be “relentlessly resourceful”. Written by Caro, there probably isn’t a more detailed study of the subject out there 😅 https://t.co/dhsn0nGm8L

  • "Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students' skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity--in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. [He examines] why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy"--Dust jacket flap.

    Source: https://t.co/F02J4lJFN5

  • Bringing Montessori to America tells the little known story of the collaboration and clash between the indomitable educator Maria Montessori and the American publisher S. S. McClure over the launch of Montessori education in the United States.

    @jasoncrawford @spakhm @raygirn @mbateman that's interesting! Looks like this book has the history https://t.co/NaYNDNtNJF https://t.co/eDO3GE9lkB

  • Few 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.

    @tilek @spakhm It was conscious. His memoir has an entire chapter on how communists lost in Singapore. I was very surprised about how intentional he was about everything (ofc memoir is a biased account, but still). Highly recommend the book https://t.co/v2zCcrquwR

  • Education in a Time Between Worlds seeks to reframe this historical moment as an opportunity to create a global society of educational abundance. Educational systems must be transformed beyond recognition if humanity is to survive the planetary crises currently underway.

    @Parents_Nook https://t.co/KTc7yRohqD

  • Why the Internet was designed to be the way it is, and how it could be different, now and in the future. How do you design an internet? The architecture of the current Internet is the product of basic design decisions made early in its history. What would an internet look like if it were designed, today, from the ground up? In this book, MIT computer scientist David Clark explains how the Internet is actually put together, what requirements it was designed to meet, and why different design decisions would create different internets. He does not take today's Internet as a given but tries to learn from it, and from alternative proposals for what an internet might be, in order to draw some general conclusions about network architecture. Clark discusses the history of the Internet, and how a range of potentially conflicting requirements—including longevity, security, availability, economic viability, management, and meeting the needs of society—shaped its character. He addresses both the technical aspects of the Internet and its broader social and economic contexts. He describes basic design approaches and explains, in terms accessible to nonspecialists, how networks are designed to carry out their functions. (An appendix offers a more technical discussion of network functions for readers who want the details.) He considers a range of alternative proposals for how to design an internet, examines in detail the key requirements a successful design must meet, and then imagines how to design a future internet from scratch. It's not that we should expect anyone to do this; but, perhaps, by conceiving a better future, we can push toward it.

    This sounds like an interesting read. Might be of special interest to people working on designing new crypto networks. https://t.co/lzjI7fC2RL https://t.co/nI97NpSLoh

  • Tuxedo Park

    Jennet Conant

    Presents the story of financier Alfred Lee Loomis and his role in the American victory during World War II, discussing Tuxedo Park, the lavish safe haven he created for some of the world's greatest scientists to meet and share ideas.

    Really enjoyed reading this book. A lot more people should know about Alfred Loomis https://t.co/lGhoZbg0zz

  • A pioneer in the field of quantum computation explores the nature and progress of knowledge in the universe, arguing that humans are subject to the laws of physics but unlimited by what can be understood, controlled, and achieved.

    @jessedonoe @patrickc https://t.co/iEMvMzporq

  • Organizing Genius

    Warren Bennis

    @asteroid_saku I’m reading this book right now on a similar’ish topic and loving it so far. Disney, xerox parc, manhattan project, and skunk works in one book 💙https://t.co/DjgZjzCpBk

  • The Power Broker

    Robert A. Caro

    Moses is pictured as idealist reformer and political manipulator as his rise to power and eventual domination of New York State politics is documented

    @kevinakwok @calcsam read “The Power Broker” and “Working” - thanks to you! LBJ books are on deck

  • Working

    Robert A. Caro

    "Short autobiography about author's processes of researching, interviewing, and writing his books"--

    @kevinakwok @calcsam read “The Power Broker” and “Working” - thanks to you! LBJ books are on deck

  • A dazzling group biography of the early twentieth-century thinkers who transformed the way the world thought about math and science Inspired by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and Bertrand Russell and David Hilbert's pursuit of the fundamental rules of mathematics, some of the most brilliant minds of the generation came together in post-World War I Vienna to present the latest theories in mathematics, science, and philosophy and to build a strong foundation for scientific investigation. Composed of such luminaries as Kurt Gödel and Rudolf Carnap, and stimulated by the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper, the Vienna Circle left an indelible mark on science. Exact Thinking in Demented Times tells the often outrageous, sometimes tragic, and never boring stories of the men who transformed scientific thought. A revealing work of history, this landmark book pays tribute to those who dared to reinvent knowledge from the ground up.

    @kevinakwok @eugenewei @KevinSimler @patrickc I have this one on deck https://t.co/pRkjYm3ZZb

  • The Dream Machine

    M. Mitchell Waldrop

    At a time when computers were a short step removed from mechanical data processors, Licklider was writing treatises on "human-computer symbiosis," "computers as communication devices," and a now not-so-unfamiliar "Intergalactic Network." His ideas became so influential, his passion so contagious, that Waldrop coined him "computing's Johnny Appleseed." In a simultaneously compelling personal narrative and comprehensive historical exposition, Waldrop tells the story of the man who not only instigated the work that led to the internet, but also shifted our understanding of what computers were and could be.

    @dwr https://t.co/Fjm4ZVkIQU

  • Genentech

    Sally Smith Hughes

    In the fall of 1980, Genentech, Inc., a little-known California genetic engineering company, became the overnight darling of Wall Street, raising over $38 million in its initial public stock offering. Lacking marketed products or substantial profit, the firm nonetheless saw its share price escalate from $35 to $89 in the first few minutes of trading, at that point the largest gain in stock market history. Coming at a time of economic recession and declining technological competitiveness in the United States, the event provoked banner headlines and ignited a period of speculative frenzy over biotechnology as a revolutionary means for creating new and better kinds of pharmaceuticals, untold profit, and a possible solution to national economic malaise. Drawing from an unparalleled collection of interviews with early biotech players, Sally Smith Hughes offers the first book-length history of this pioneering company, depicting Genentech’s improbable creation, precarious youth, and ascent to immense prosperity. Hughes provides intimate portraits of the people significant to Genentech’s science and business, including cofounders Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson, and in doing so sheds new light on how personality affects the growth of science. By placing Genentech’s founders, followers, opponents, victims, and beneficiaries in context, Hughes also demonstrates how science interacts with commercial and legal interests and university research, and with government regulation, venture capital, and commercial profits. Integrating the scientific, the corporate, the contextual, and the personal, Genentech tells the story of biotechnology as it is not often told, as a risky and improbable entrepreneurial venture that had to overcome a number of powerful forces working against it.

    This was a fun read about the early days of biotech. With the exception of one company founded in 1944, there were no new pharma companies since 1920s in the US. Genentech opened the floodgates with their success at the end of 1970s https://t.co/tI1dPsar3D https://t.co/eBA01Bv1aa

  • Working

    Robert A. Caro

    "Short autobiography about author's processes of researching, interviewing, and writing his books"--

    @brian_armstrong It’s the inside cover of this book https://t.co/pDvEbp3BDO

  • Masters of Doom

    David Kushner

    Presents a dual biography of John Carmack and John Romero, the creators of the video games Doom and Quake, assessing the impact of their creation on American pop culture and revealing how their success eventually destroyed their relationship.

    @dwr “Masters of Doom” is a really fun read https://t.co/kVJ8lAJMmu. Still reading “The Power Broker”, but it’s also in top 3 for this year

  • From Beethoven and Kafka to George Sand, Picasso and Agatha Christie, this compilation of letters, diaries and interviews reveals the profound fusion of discipline and dissipation through which the artistic temperament is allowed to evolve, recharge and emerge. 20,000 first printing.

    Even better: “Daily Rituals” but about people’s personal productivity setups https://t.co/k14Dc39YaL

  • @kevinakwok @narayanarjun "The Story of Civilization" series by Will and Ariel Durant. 11-books-series sounds intimidating, so my current plan is to read 1 or 2 a year starting in 2019 :D

  • Stephen Hawking was recognized as one of the greatest minds of our time and a figure of inspiration after defying his ALS diagnosis at age twenty-one. He is known for both his breakthroughs in theoretical physics as well as his ability to make complex concepts accessible for all, and was beloved for his mischievous sense of humor. At the time of his death, Hawking was working on a final project: a book compiling his answers to the "big" questions that he was so often posed--questions that ranged beyond his academic field. Within these pages, he provides his personal views on our biggest challenges as a human race, and where we, as a planet, are heading next. Each section will be introduced by a leading thinker offering his or her own insight into Professor Hawking's contribution to our understanding. The book will also feature a foreword from Academy Award winning actor Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything, and an afterword by Hawking's daughter, Lucy Hawking, as well as personal photographs and additional archival material.

    @BrianTHeligman first chapter is exactly about that https://t.co/tkLGdGfB28

  • Contends that randomness and probability have a large impact on life, claims that people regularly fail to recognize that role, and tells how to differentiate between randomness in general and the financial markets in particular.

    @dwr @libovness Antifragile > the black swan > SITG > fooled by randomness

  • Masters of Doom

    David Kushner

    Presents a dual biography of John Carmack and John Romero, the creators of the video games Doom and Quake, assessing the impact of their creation on American pop culture and revealing how their success eventually destroyed their relationship.

    Fun read about the history of the gaming industry. It’s mind-blowing how a John Carmack or Jeff Dean level programmer can singlehandedly push an entire field forward https://t.co/FLeZU2N3M7

  • The Dream Machine

    M. Mitchell Waldrop

    At a time when computers were a short step removed from mechanical data processors, Licklider was writing treatises on "human-computer symbiosis," "computers as communication devices," and a now not-so-unfamiliar "Intergalactic Network." His ideas became so influential, his passion so contagious, that Waldrop coined him "computing's Johnny Appleseed." In a simultaneously compelling personal narrative and comprehensive historical exposition, Waldrop tells the story of the man who not only instigated the work that led to the internet, but also shifted our understanding of what computers were and could be.

    If👇 sounds really interesting, I highly recommend reading The Dream Machine. I got obsessed with reading the papers discussed in this thread after I read that book https://t.co/FZXk9QpGAT

  • A "recasting of the turning points in world history, including the one we're living through, as a struggle between old power hierarchies and new social networks"--Dust jacket.

    @rkarabukaev https://t.co/UrxcFnV1fP

  • Strong +1 on this one. I couldn’t find a reasonably priced copy of it last year, so ended up printing @worrydream’s pdf on https://t.co/oDGSM3PBsd https://t.co/g1EJB3e7mU https://t.co/3X8cNSwdDN

  • The Sovereign Individual

    James Dale Davidson

    The authors identify both the likely disasters and the potential for prosperity inherent in the advent of the information age.

    https://t.co/gxxu0VgTUg

  • The second volume of the bestselling landmark work on the history of the modern state Writing in The Wall Street Journal, David Gress called Francis Fukuyama's Origins of Political Order "magisterial in its learning and admirably immodest in its ambition." In The New York Times Book Review, Michael Lind described the book as "a major achievement by one of the leading public intellectuals of our time." And in The Washington Post, Gerard DeGrott exclaimed "this is a book that will be remembered. Bring on volume two." Volume two is finally here, completing the most important work of political thought in at least a generation. Taking up the essential question of how societies develop strong, impersonal, and accountable political institutions, Fukuyama follows the story from the French Revolution to the so-called Arab Spring and the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. He examines the effects of corruption on governance, and why some societies have been successful at rooting it out. He explores the different legacies of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and offers a clear-eyed account of why some regions have thrived and developed more quickly than others. And he boldly reckons with the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West. A sweeping, masterful account of the struggle to create a well-functioning modern state, Political Order and Political Decay is destined to be a classic.

    @socrates1024 The origins of political order by francis fukuyama

  • An introduction to Noam Chomsky's views on the politics of power discusses third-party politics in the United States, the suppression of dissent, U.S. foreign and domestic policy, and the role of the media.

    @michael_nielsen @juliagalef +1 on "Understanding Power". One of my all time favorites

  • Alibaba

    Duncan Clark

    An engrossing, insider’s account of how a teacher built one of the world’s most valuable companies—rivaling Walmart & Amazon—and forever reshaped the global economy. In just a decade and half Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and Presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China’s booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle class consumers. Duncan Clark first met Jack in 1999 in the small apartment where Jack founded Alibaba. Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own experience as an early advisor to Alibaba and two decades in China chronicling the Internet’s impact on the country to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of Alibaba’s rise. How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80% market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions? How does the Chinese government view its rise? Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the U.S.? Clark tells Alibaba’s tale in the context of China’s momentous economic and social changes, illuminating an unlikely corporate titan as never before.

    @vvoyer https://t.co/ht2C2BlB03