This holiday season, I focused on reading books that represented events or people that changed our perspective on the world for better or worse, plus I added in two books for fun. Here’s a brief summary:

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton – this is an extremely well-written book that describes the creation and operation of the Silk Road in the style of a page-turning thriller. Ross Ulbricht, who created Silk Road is from the town that we live in (Westlake in Austin, TX). On the one hand, it is scary to think of what he created in such a short-time frame. On the other hand, it illustrates how hard it will be to truly slow down illicit activity via the dark web with the present rules we have in place. Impossible would be the right word. Recommended by John Cunningham.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann – this book describes the early days of how the FBI began by centering on a series of murders that occurred in Oklahoma impacting the Osage Indians. This is another well-written book that is a great reminder of why we need a strong FBI. Recommended by Christopher Martin.

Kissinger by Walter Isaacson – Walter Isaacson has become my favorite biographer to read. This volume on Henry Kissinger is unsparing in its unveiling of how Kissinger, Nixon and their teams developed policy, focused on world order and, quite frankly, lived in a continually semi-paranoid state. Isaacson has a gift for putting all of the information out on the table in a reader-friendly approach. Next book I will read of his is on Leonardo da Vinci.

Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day by Joel Selvin – Woodstock was heralded as a breakthrough event that was not nearly as well planned as many thought. The west coast version of Woodstock turned out to be Altamont, an event where “planning” was not necessarily an operative word.   It became symbolic as an event that signaled the end of the “innocence” of the 60’s. The Stones, by the way, are one of my favorite bands of all time, so easy to read. Recommended by Mike Marinello.

Since it was a time to chill out during the holidays, I also read two fiction books, which I don’t do a lot of.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty – this satirical book about a fictional town called “Dickens” within Los Angeles and a race-related trial that ends up in the US Supreme Court are all you need to know, other than this won the Man Booker Prize, which automatically puts this in the “must read” column. Love the Man Booker Prize selections each year. Recommended by Michael Roth.

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille – I have been a long-time fan of Nelson DeMille’s work, particularly The Gold Coast. A fun, relatively quick read about a plot that rolls out in Cuba. Will stop there.

In Q1, I plan to read more on Blockchain, related technologies and global issues.

Happy New Year! Please keep the recommendations for books coming in.

Best, Bob