5 Books


A very interesting set of notes/memoirs/thoughts from a left leaning British Jew. This book can evoke contrasting responses from people depending on where they lay on the politico-social-populist divides.
Many chapters are informative (God, family, comedy, security), others were confirmatory for me (Israel, race). The two that stood out were the ones on the internet and Poland.
The former was a bit all over the place—it has several important messages but could’ve been massively improved by skipping some bits (this chapter will also trigger a lot of people on all sides of the political landscape. The latter chapter was tremendously moving, even for anyone who thinks they know all about the Holocaust.

Notes, quotes & links

The Billionaire Raj

A really good book covering the state of money power and politics in India over the last decade. The title is a misnomer as the book looks way beyond just the growth and dominance of Billionaires. It covers, apart from the Billionaires, politicians, bureaucrats, media, cricket and more.

Anyone who has followed developments in India closely may already be aware of most of the facts in the book. But even for them, the description of interplay between various sections of the power set will be useful. The analysis of how things work in India, how they got to this state, the challenges ahead, and the potential paths forward are all interesting.

The author pulls his punches, specially when criticising the politicians. This could be to maintain access for himself and the media organisations he works with. This may also just be the journalistic prudence at play—presenting facts not judgements.

Notes, quotes & links

After Mandela

A really good assessment of South Africa during years of Mbeki’s presidency (starts with transition from Mandela, ends with rise of Zuma). Uses a wealth of interviews, anecdotes, and historical perspective to cover all key areas of the society - the party, the violence, failure to deliver, Afrikaners, AIDS, BEE, Zimbabwe and more.
It had its slow moments, specially in the beginning, and a tiny bit of (Western?) proselytising, but they are rare.

Notes, quotes & links

The fifth risk

An assessment of a fundamental execution and institutional capability that’s under attack. By Trump and allies in the US, but also broadly across the world, and not just by the politicians. Good awakening book about the boring truths.

Notes, quotes & links

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea