Books from Break

Barbarians at the GateBrian Burroughs

Details the LBO of RJR Nabisco and what quickly became a 25 billion dollar clusterfuck. Reading these books is always surreal–like American Psycho without the irony. The best part, to me anyway, is after reading about how these guys acted and treated people with their “big swinging dick” mentality is looking at pictures. Most of them look like complete douchebags–old, oofy men unaware of their lameness. Which just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how many Gucci suits you buy or how many war analogies you apply to your business, in the end meaning can not be manufactured. None of them really accomplished anything. What mark is it on history that you tore apart a company and put it back together for some fees? No question, LBOs did a lot to shake up and reinvigorate archaic companies (media definitely could use this). Most of the guys that did it though, were just fancy used car salesmen.

All Marketers are LiarsSeth Godin

A quick read, but good. Says that people don’t buy what they need anymore–we have pretty much everything necessarily for survival–and that the future is providing things that tell a story. A marketer is the person that transforms a product into an authentic lie (contradiction on purpose) that provides the customer something to live through or by. Tucker is a master at this: Is he selling funny anecdotes or is it all a story about living Thompson’s “myth and legend”?

Cesar’s WayCesar Millan

Trying to train my puppy. The show is awesome and so is the book. It doesn’t matter if you have a dog or not, learning to be calm-assertive is something we all can work on.

Free Prize InsideSeth Godin

The follow-up to Purple Cow. This is my fourth or fifth Godin book. There is a section in the middle called “A Passel of Tactics” that is an applicable version of the 48 Laws. It tells you how to work within a system to create change. He says rightfully that a great idea is never enough. You’re better set having a good idea with leverage. You should read it just for the tactics section. I think you can find it for free online.

The Four Hour Work WeekTim Ferriss

I started rereading it for my post on Tim’s blog. Totally forgot he liked Seneca.

Academic Papers/Misc

Evolution of Human Bipedalism: A Hypothesis About Where It HappenedLP La Lumiere

A short, 6 page paper about Aquatic Ape Theory. The idea is that a some point in evolutionary history a group of apes were stranded on an island and forced into the ocean for survival. This is where we developed bipedalism (walking on two legs), our affinity for Omega-3, relative hairlessness and ability to swim. This author thinks it happened near the coast of Africa where the Danakil Alps were mostly submerged by the rising sea. The whole idea seems fascinating to me and I’m trying to read as much as I can on it. If anyone has anything good, please send it.

The Commanding Heights: Battle for the World EconomyPBS ( 6 hr, DVD Boxset)

I should probably do a post on this but if I don’t, watch the DVD. The first disc is about the battle of ideas in economics–Hayek vs Keynes, Chicago School of Economics vs the rest of the academic world. The second disc is about the turmoil of reform, after Milton Friedman won the battle, after the Soviet Union collapsed. And then the last one is called the Rules of the Game and it’s about how to succeed on this new frontier. If anything, get the first disc on Netflix just for its history of the world economy from the Industrial Revolution forward.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.