Books: A Bibliography
This is a catalog of books with comments and recommendations. This is an ongoing project and pretty sparse in its initial version
16-May-2005Version 2: 2023-05-28 17:09:26

This is a work in progress. I plan to add more books and commentary in the future as I catch up on my backlog and can add more comments to.

These are books that I see as worth commenting and recommending to others. I plan to fill in with comments on the book over time. I'm including links so you can buy them to Amazon under my developer account. I'm doing this mainly because I'm curious about whether people do take my recommendations. The amounts are too small to count as income but I do feel obliged to disclose the relationship and leave it to you to decide how and whether to purchase the books.

I realize that some of these books are heavy reading. I took advantage of buying some of them on CD or downloading them via (iTunes for books?) so I could listen to them while driving.

I recommend you look at David Reed's list of books. He has some very good recommendations.



Guns Germs and Steel
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies By Jared Diamond
In school we learn about written history but much of what defines are our world came about long before writing. The roots of today's societies go back much further and the accidents of geography did much to define today's relationships.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed By Jared Diamond
Rather than just making pronouncements, Jared has done careful research to back up his conclusions.
Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff
Important insight into how differently people understand the same words. The cultural divide is reflected in a conceptual divide.
Wealth and Poverty
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David Landes
Nations that have dynamic and chaotic economies tend to do better than those that try to avoid risk and suppress heresy. When the book was written Japan appeared to be an exception but subsequent events reinforced the thesis of the book.
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand
The United States was founded in an era when the universe seemed to be a puzzle we only had to solve. By the 1900's we were starting to free ourselves from this absolute framework. The conceptual divide described in Moral Politics can be seen in terms of this divide between the absolute universe and a more pragmatic model.
A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down by Robert B Laughlin

We are in the throes of a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize the universe. We are shifting from deriving meaning from the components of a system to recognizing that meaning is not inherent. This my own way of stating the ideas. Lauglin takes a deeper view by looking at the state of research in physics and he finds that all-to-often the "laws" we are building on metaphors and not real.

Our universe is a complex interacting and evolving system -- it is not simply a system of rigidly connected elements.

Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing

Published by the Association for Computing Machinery on the fiftieth anniversary of modern computing. My Beyond Limits essay is a chapter in this book.