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Archimedes Bathtub
by David Perkins
With such an unlikely title, it is interesting to note that it is targeted at the business person rather than the academic. It does an excellent job of focusing on the key points and practical applications of breakthrough thinking without getting bogged down in too much detail. Creativity and problem-solving are addressed through simple exercises. As usual with any book of this sort, 50% you'll already know. However, the other 50% will help you think of ways to improve your personal and company's ability to achieve breakthrough thinking.


Atlas of Economic Indicators
by W. Stansbury Carnes
What do all those acronyms stand for? Developed from a popular in-house pamphlet used at Shearson Lehman, this accessible and thoroughly illustrated resource makes understanding economic indicators much, much simpler. Charts and graphs.


A Brief History of Economic Genius
by Paul Strathern
A highly accessible look at the most eccentric and gifted economists including Johann Becher (1635-1682); John Law (1671-1729); Adam Smith (1723-1790); Robert Malthus (1766-1833); Karl Marx (1818-1883); Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929); and John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946). These notable and influential figures, along with their triumphs and failings, and the evolution of the science of economics, are all intelligently considered in this presentation that is recommended for academia, as well as the non-specialist general reader.


Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Russian Roulette, business leaders, classical history, financial trading, poetry, mathematics, Sherlock Holmes, and science wars. All these are featured in this captivating insight into how we perceive and deal with luck


Harnessing Complexity: Organizational Implications of a Scientific Frontier
by Robert Axelrod, Michael D. Cohen
It seems that a lot of the value of the book depends on having at least the initial, possibly intuitive, understanding of the interrelatedness of events, structure, and environment. The authors' perspective is on building effective teams from complex groups of individuals. They offer numerous business, political, and cultural applications for their model of complex adaptive systems.


Life by the Numbers
by Keith Devlin
Math as a tool for understanding just about everything. We're talking about understanding virtual reality, leopard spots and viruses. The discussion reveals career opportunities.


A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper
by John Allen Paulos
"This book provides perfect examples for applying statistical knowledge in the real world. It's a wonderful tool for demonstrating the fruits of critical thinking." It uses the short chapter format.


Rescuing Prometheus: Four Monumental Projects That Changed the Modern World
by Thomas P. Hughes
Hughes makes an important contribution to understanding the history, politics and culture of big science-based projects. The book focuses on four projects of awesome enormity that were completed successfully. SAGE the air-defense project transformed computers from mathematical labor savers into decision-makers by proxy, and spawned the first elements of "postmodern management."
The ATLAS missile program brought together the disparate elements of the military-industrial-university complex and demanded new, less hierarchical control over individual subprograms. This new way of thinking brought engineers such as Dean Wooldridge and Simon Ramo to prominence.
The ARPANET and Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Along the way those projects encountered both the simplifying synergy and maddening political slowdowns involved with not just a handful of problems, but entire communities of messy problems. "Readers discouraged by seemingly inflexible barriers to solving complex social and technical problems can take heart after reading this book. It shows that while we still can't fix the world, we're building better tools to do so every day." Only one criticism - the title. Otherwise, it should be required reading for those who dream of or already involved in monumental projects.


Toward Rational Exuberance
by B. Mark Smith
This book details the practical and historical workings of the stock market from 1901 when it was "a primitive insider's game" to the present downturn. Carefully charting how early market practices led to wider economic and political events, he demonstrates how public reaction reshaped the market over the decades. Rare is the book's balanced treatment of the evolution of academic theory and professional practice. It holds important insights for experts and remains a useful introduction for novices. A welcome antidote to shrill predictions of looming prosperity or disaster.This is one of the best general works on a topic of broadening interest and provides a wonderful perspective on the development of equity markets in the U.S.


Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization
by Gene I. Rochlin
After a brief history of personal computing and networking, the book debates whether the gradual movement of computerization into the workplace has "dumbed down" workers and decentralized control within organizations. Rochlin asserts that the computerization of safety-critical industries has increased the chances of operational error, demonstrated with examples of errors made by pilots, air traffic controllers, and nuclear plant operators. He also investigates military systems computing and the financial and investment market, which has experienced the most rapid growth and change due to computerization. The book concludes with some possible implications of our increasingly digital society, and the picture doesn't always look pretty. The final chapters ponder the effects of virtual organizations on our society, using the example of the military fighting a war in cyberspace.


Unleashing the Ideavirus
by Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell
The Internet industry has been enamored of buzz-based marketing ever since venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson coined the phrase "viral marketing" in 1997 to describe Hotmail's strategy of tagging every e-mail message with a promotion for its service. The self-replicating promotion helped the company achieve an epidemic growth rate of zero to 12 million users in a mere 18 months. Since then, viral marketing has propelled everything from Napster to The Blair Witch Project to legendary success. He also describes "sneezers" (influential people who spread them), "hives" (populations most willing to receive them), and "smoothness" (the ease with which sneezers can transmit them throughout a hive). In all, an infectious and highly recommended read.


When Genius Failed
by Roger Lowenstein
Being a mathematical genius just isn't enough if you want to use the skill in business. It's a great asset to be sure, but if you choose to work in the field of business, knowledge of sociology (i.e. people) is required. In that knowledge must be included knowledge of the 7 deadly sins – especially greed. A great read about how the "best of the best" fell into a trap of their own making.


The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less
by Richard Koch
Whether you're investing in stocks, analyzing company sales, or looking at the performance of a Web site, you'll find that it's usually 20 percent that produces 80 percent of the total result. This means 80 percent of what you do may not count for much. Koch helps you to identify that 20 percent and shows you how you can get more out of your business, and life, for less. The real kick from the book is how Koch applies the 80/20 rule to living one's life. If 20% of our efforts yield 80% of the results we can increase our productivity 100% by doubling our 20% activities and eliminating the 80% activities. This would leave you with 60% of your time to do other things, more time with family and friends, hobbies, talking a walk.