Us is about a middle aged couple, and their son, in the midst of a relationship crisis. The book continues David Nicholls' examination of relationshipUs is about a middle aged couple, and their son, in the midst of a relationship crisis. The book continues David Nicholls' examination of relationships. I am really conflicted about it though. Even at their weakest moments, I liked the characters in One Day. Admittedly the protagonist in Starter for Ten was, in my opinion, reasonably unlikeable, but he was young and no more prone to errors of judgment than I was back then. There are characters in this book though that I simply found both unlikeable and unlikely. Maybe that's the just the nature of my experience. I also found it more prone to the humour of pratfalls than my recollection of previous books (quite Nick Hornby for those who like him) and sometimes the points felt too strongly put. Nonetheless it made me think, which good art should, and I think it will entertain those who have liked his previous work. ...more
13 days is a great book about the Cuban Missile Crisis written by the brother, and right hand, of the President. Here are 13 things that Thirteen days13 days is a great book about the Cuban Missile Crisis written by the brother, and right hand, of the President. Here are 13 things that Thirteen days can teach you about leadership (spoilers ahead):
1) Challenge assumptions (business orthodoxy) - despite having an extensive intelligence network the US had failed to believe some tips that the Russians were putting nuclear missiles into Cuba.
2) Do not rush to judgment - Robert Kennedy was surprised that despite the intelligence and experience of the group discussing the crisis their views changed over time (some several times).
3) Know your customers - John F Kennedy instinctively felt that US voters would not accept anything but a strong government response to the Cuba situation (note - no focus group needed. Malcolm Gladwell would have been proud!).
4) Recognise the ingredients needed to create healthy debate - JFK did not attend every meeting of the committee creating the country's response strategy because he recognised that views expressed changed in his presence. Robert Kennedy also pointed out the value of diversity of opinion when dealing with complex problems and having people brave enough to challenge the majority opinion.
5) With difficult decisions there is unlikely to be consensus or a right answer.
6) Take a break - The President is seen in the book having lunch with his wife before a major meeting and then on another occasion going for a swim. That was a great instinct to make sure he was feeling relaxed and able to think clearly about the decisions he needed to take.
7) Be professional - The US made sure that they had a strong legal framework for taking action against Russia. Having objective criteria to support their perspective really helped convince other stakeholders.
8) Manage stakeholders - The President is seen throughout the book keeping major stakeholders like the UK, France, Germany and Latin American states informed.
9) Strategy then details - The President's team focused on establishing the right strategy, then they worked through the fine details.
10) Know when to step forward - The President moved from letting others debate strategic options to taking direct control of all the details when the plan moved into action.
11) Stay rational - The President was painted by his brother as staying level headed and professional in the face of severe provocation. He strongly wanted to avoid miscalculating by acting out of emotion at any time.
12) Do not presume that things will get done - follow up - The President learned that some missiles in Turkey that he had previously asked to be decommissioned had not been, weakening the US's bargaining position and moral authority.
13) Kill them with kindness - JFK responded to two letters from the Russian leader, Kruschev by ignoring insults and answering only on the positive points made.
Lots of people leap to comparing this book to an adult Harry Potter. In fact Grossman's message is more about Narnia and the general dangers of gettinLots of people leap to comparing this book to an adult Harry Potter. In fact Grossman's message is more about Narnia and the general dangers of getting what you wish for. I suspect some of the critics are reacting against a fantasy novel whose central message is that People are better off living in reality. A tough book to find an audience for but I enjoyed it. ...more
Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Anarchic, witty, mind-bending a must read and a great introduction to both behavioural economics and the thinking manBrilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Anarchic, witty, mind-bending a must read and a great introduction to both behavioural economics and the thinking man's Jeremy Clarkson. ...more