Guy Kawasaki’s new Book: Enchantment

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and ActionsEnchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Full Disclosure: Guy sent me a free review copy but I would still say the same things even if I had paid for it. I did feel obligated to read the book and write a review before the book hits the stores. I’m glad that I pushed it up on my reading list.

In short, its great book and everyone who deals with people in one way or the other should read it. Which, I guess, means pretty much everyone. Guy has put together advice taken from several great sources: books, blogs, people he knows and his personal experience and put it together in a very accessible way. Just the sheer wealth of insights/advice collated together makes this book worthwhile. Furthermore, Guy has put it together in the usual Guy Kawasaki way: conversational and bullet pointed. Thus, it makes for easy reading. I also noticed that the Contents page is presented as a checklist which incidentally is one technique that Guy advocates in the book.

The strong point of the book is its weak point too. The advice sounds quite simple and easy to use. On the positive side, its easy to start using it the next day. On the negative side, if one falters, there isn’t much to incorporate the feedback as the matter is condensed into crispy bullets. For deeper understanding and better chances of success, one is better off reading the books and other sources that Guy refers to. I think Guy does realise that and he has done his job through extensive attribution and Bibliography. The rest is up to the reader.

There are parts where the research looks thin. For example, I don’t know in which Indian language Tata means Grandfather and I’ve traveled/lived fairly all over the country. It just makes one a bit more skeptical of other parts of the book. But given that Guy’s been here only twice, I’m inclined to overlook it.

Overall: Great compendium of great advice. Well put together. Saves a lot of effort in reading a lot more material written in a far more tedious way. Don’t stop at this book though and get into the books that Guy refers to.

Review: The Grand Design

The Grand DesignThe Grand Design by Stephen W. Hawking

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book makes for a very easy reading in spite of the topic involved. The authors do not get into any maths or more complex arguments. Also there are a no of pictures/illustrations which smoothen the reader’s flow and provide welcome breaks. Thus, its easy to understand.

The key takeaway is the concept of model-dependent reality. Its a concept more out of a psychology or Buddhism/Hinduism or existentialism rather than hard core physics. The M Theory is not really described in any detail or with rigor. Counterarguments and supporting data is also missing though the authors claim that the theory is testable. Thus, it would be more interesting to see if other physicists adopt the idea of model-dependent reality and come up with other theories rather than to see how they respond to M Theory.

On the whole a very readable book. Well worth the read just for its description of works of Einstein and Feynman. The authors have to be congratulated for conveying the core ideas with such simplicity and brevity.

Also inspired me to re-look at the daunting task of reading the Road to Reality by Roger Penrose ¬†ūüôā

Review: Manifesto of the Communist Party

Manifesto of the Communist PartyManifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I got interested in this book because Dalai Lama’s own favorable ¬†experiences with communism as per his autobiography. I am glad that I read it.

Its not easy to read as the sentence constructs and contexts are not familiar. Still, it builds a very good picture of class struggle. One could look at some of the struggles today; say that of Naxals, and find a lot of similarities. No wonder that even today a lot of people turn to this and other books of communism. One can also see its ideas resonating for a large number of people and why it could form a bedrock for revolutions.

While it does bring a strong case for the proletariat and their problems, the picture remains simplistic. One important part that it ignores is the role of technology in economic evolution. Its prescriptions for a solution are not detailed and not examined against practical realities. Its no wonder that many of the countries following this model have had to rethink.

Overall, I love this book for its description of class struggles. Also, it remains a benchmark of political argument that stirs souls. A must read for anyone interested in people, societies and change. Avoidable if you are looking for deep economic analysis or assessment.

Recommended: Delhi Durbar

I finally picked up Krishan Partap Singh’s Delhi Durbar. Its the second book on my South Asian authors challenge. Once picked, it was difficult to put it down and I devoured the book late into a night in spite of a hectic schedule the next day. KPS (Krishan Partap Singh is such an mouthful of a name) again spins a very well paced yarn. The story again seems very authentic and again draws upon real life persona. However, unlike the last book Young Turks, there seem to be some small holes. Or maybe, I’m getting used to KPS’ craft and starting to see beyond what he wants a reader to see.

Read the book for a a very credible story of a behind the scene “fixer” who does the high value deals for India’s PM. The fixer is good and has the good fortune of inheriting from his father who was the best of the fixers. However, he is faced with situations and people that even he can’t stomach. Also, he has personal problems to deal with. This is his story of navigating the maze of India’s political sleaze and managing to win against the odds.

The protagonists from Young Turks also make an appearance here and there seems to be an implicit promise of everyone getting together in the last book of series.

Recommended: Krishan Partap Singh

Just read Krishan Partap Singh’s Young Turks as a part of the South Asian Author Challenge. Back cover says “pure Jeffrey Archer” and its not off the mark.¬†The story itself has elements of Kane and Abel and the its a political thriller like many of Archer’s books. The story just flows with hardly anything superfluous or underdone. The transitions between the incidents sometimes reminded me Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series also. The language is very simple and yet the story assumes an¬†intelligent¬†reader. So in terms of story telling, this is a very well written book at par with the very best.

The story itself is very Indian. The characters are very real and I love the way they grow with the story. Each of the main characters adds layers in their personality as the story unrolls. One can easily identify with young men in school to a Indian Muslim’s dilemma to several kinds of politicians in the story. In fact, the background of the PM and his choice of words brought up the face of someone I know almost every time.¬†There is a lot of research by the author in real incidents, real people and real trends that comes together in the story. Thus, when he builds the story on top, the mix of fact and fiction reads very genuine. The pace is fast and a lot happens within the span of a few years but it all reads very credible thanks to Singh’s style of writing.

In all a great read and highly recommended. Krishan Partap Singh is a revelation and I’ll be looking out for any books that he writes. In fact my next book is his Delhi Durbar.