Years ago, there was a TV show entitled, “You Are There,” to paraphrase Wikipedia,
The series recreated events like the Battle of Hastings, the execution of Joan of Arc and the American Revolution. Reporters, described the action and interviewed the main characters. Each show began with Walter Cronkite, giving a few words on what was about to happen. An announcer gave the date and the event, followed by a loud and boldly spoken “You are there!”(1)
That’s how I feel when I have the pleasure of reading a good book. I am there because the book takes me there. Here are some of my favorites.
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises – Timothy F. Geithner
As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then as President Barack Obama’s secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner helped the United States navigate the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, from boom to bust to rescue to recovery.
In a candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, he takes readers behind the scenes of the crisis, explaining the hard choices and politically unpalatable decisions he made to repair a broken financial system and prevent the collapse of the Main Street economy. (2)
Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House – Peter Baker
The reviews below are the best way to describe this masterpiece. The first review is from Hugh Hewitt, the second from Foreign Affairs..
“This is an amazing book, a deeply reported, wonderfully written and—crucially—wholly fair and penetrating review and critique of the Bush-Cheney years, their turmoil and tragedy, their great successes and their great failures. I can’t think of a book produced so close to a presidency that has done quite what Baker does in this book. . . . You will be inside the Bush White House in a way you could not have ever have hoped to see inside until decades from now.”
“The first comprehensive narrative history of what will surely remain one of the most controversial presidential administrations in U.S. history. . . . All subsequent writers dealing with the subject will find his book indispensable.”
Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.(3)
I enjoyed getting to know Steve Jobs through Walter’s book. I’ll never forget how Steve was such a perfectionist he could never decide on the right furniture to buy, so he sat on the floor. I remember when he was in the hospital and he complained about the design of the mask the nurse put on his face. He asked to see five masks so he could choose the best one.
I enjoyed every minute of this book and was sorry when it was over.
Becoming – Michelle Obama
In her memoir, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.(4)
I enjoyed getting to know Michelle Obama, from the time a college counselor told her she wasn’t “Princeton material” to her patience as Barack worked on his political career to the time someone edited one of her campaign speeches and took a remark out of context, labeling her as “angry.” I strongly recommend Becoming.
Einstein: His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson
Isaacson’s biography shows how the imagination that distinguished his science sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality.
Based on the newly-released papers and personal letters, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk – a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate – became the mindreader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. I strongly recommend it.(5)
Clark Finnical is a Career Expert and author. Clark’s first book, Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there), was published in 2017. LinkedIn Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level was published last year.
(2) Paragraphs taken directly from the book’s Amazon page. For a more detailed review of Geithner’s book read Michael Lewis’s review.
(3) Paragraph taken directly from the book’s Amazon page.
(4) Paragraph taken directly from the book’s Amazon page.
(5) Paragraph taken directly from the book’s Amazon page.