22nd December 2010: My Holiday Reading List

I’m spending two weeks editing two articles, outlining several more for 2011, and continuing my PhD ‘draft zero’. Here’s what I may fit in, reading-wise:


The Wall Street Journal (Asia Edition). There’s a simple reason why I pay Rupert Murdoch to go behind the WSJ pay-wall: the market analysis is worth the investment.

Ken Auletta (2009), Googled: The End of the World As We Know It, The Penguin Group, New York. For an unpublished Smart Internet Technology CRC monograph, I read most of the then available studies of Google in late 2006 and early 2007. 60 pages in, Auletta has more substantive detail on co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and their pre-IPO negotiations with angel investors and venture capitalists. The reason? Auletta conducted 300 interviews: 150 with Google staff, and 150 with outsiders including media executives. Googled benefits from Auletta’s refined journalistic reportage and extensive insights.

N+1 (2010), Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of An Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager, HarperPerennial, New York. This is one of the more easily readable ‘tell-all’ books about the 2008 global financial crisis. I’m coding the interview transcript to see how the anonymous hedge fund manager thinks, how and why he conceptualises problems, and how he explains risks. Steven Drobny’s books are also useful for a similar purpose.

Richard Ned Lebow (2010), Forbidden Fruit: Counterfactuals and International Relations, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ. Counterfactuals are provocative ‘thought experiments’ on alternative histories which would have materialised if different choices had been made, or if conditions had differed. Forbidden Fruit elevates counterfactuals beyond Niall Ferguson’s ‘virtual histories’: Lebow outlines a sophisticated research method and then analyses World War 1, the Cold War’s end, Mozart’s death and post-classicism, causation, and popular fiction. This is dense, well-argued analysis which can be used to re-evaluate the major choices and turning points in your personal life.