Review: Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun tour of modern behavioral psychology through the lens of Sherlock Holmes. Specifically, how can we be more like Holmes, proceeding mindfully through the world, and less like Watson, just muddling through. Thanks Amy!



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Review: Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance
Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Gleeson-White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A history of double-entry accounting. Do not be afraid. It is far more enjoyable than you might have thought. Really.

First of all, the history of accounting goes back to the earliest civilizations and may have played a role in the invention of writing. Things really get going in Venice at the start of the Renaissance when the Venetians discover (or possibly borrow from the Arabs) the techniques of double-entry, the form of accounting used all over the world today, for good or ill. Highly recommended. Thanks Lucas!



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Review: By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire

By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire
By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire by Ian Worthington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick but very informative history of the Macedonian Empire spanning both Philip II and Alexander, reassessing each in the light of the other.



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Review: Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion

Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion
Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion by Pema Chödrön

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not quite what I was expecting, but nevertheless good. One hundred and eight micro-chapters, each about two pages long, with a short explication of Buddhism from Chödrön’s perspective. Buddhism and Stoicism have some interesting parallels. In some respects they each start from the same place and reach some of the same conclusions. It’s their tenor that is so strikingly different. Something like the difference between acceptance and resignation.



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Review: A Wake for the Living

A Wake for the Living
A Wake for the Living by Andrew Nelson Lytle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lytle’s graceful and loving portrait of the lost world of his youth, the Old South. I found it a bit dry in parts, but mostly enjoyable. Basically a lyrical variation of one of history’s oldest laments: The World Is Different Than When I Was Young. To which I had my usual reaction: the past is interesting to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I hope that when I am near the end of my life I will have the courage to see the present and future with kinder eyes.



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