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Joseph Landes has commented on (24) products.

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum
That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

Joseph Landes, December 8, 2011

I felt a tremendous amount of pride while reading Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum's new book "That Used To Be Us." The book itself is a call to arms for every citizen of the United States; not just a series of complaints of how things have gone and are going even further off the rails but with concrete suggestions on how to make things better. Friedman and Mandelbaum posit that there are four main challenges holding the US back from allowing citizens to live "the American dream" that was a promise of the past: Globalization (which Friedman has written about extensively in Hot, Flat, and Crowded), the IT revolution, our growing deficit, and overall energy consumption. After describing these challenges using both modern day and historical references they go on to describe solutions for us to get back on track as a country. Each chapter is well written, easy to read, and is definite fodder for office and cocktail party talk. "Average is Over" and Homework X2 = The American Dream are two of the more interesting chapters in the book. A well written book that will keep you thinking for some time about what you can do to help. As a bonus, you are guaranteed to have plenty of examples and feedback for your congressman or congresswoman next time you see them!

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Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

Joseph Landes, December 8, 2011

I excitedly picked up Jim Collins' latest book--"Great by Choice" and essentially devoured it in one reading. I have to admit that I am a self-avowed Collins junkie and actually have met him twice since he wrote Good to Great. I like others was wondering if he could really follow such a seminal piece of work with something equally great and I have to say that he delivered. I say that because the essence of why Good to Great was such an important work was that the lessons learned are "bite sized" enough to be transferable not just to business but to everyday life. So I entered this book thinking to myself "What would be the equivalent concept I would learn to Level 5 Leadership" or a Hedgehog or the Bus?" I am happy to say that anyone familar with these concepts and the way that Collins writes by showing "paired examples" of companies will be happy to learn and absorb new concepts like the 20 Mile March, Zoom in and Then Zoom Out, and the SMaC Recipe. All of which can be applied to your business and to your personal life. The book itself, researched and written during the past almost decade of world upheaval is relevant, pertinent, and a very strong offering from Collins and Hansen. I think it is now clear that when you take Jim Collins' total body of work that he is by far one of the most advanced and relevant business thinkers not just of our generation but of generations past as well.
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The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner
The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership

Joseph Landes, December 8, 2011

The rabbi of our synagogue spoke about this book during the first day of our Rosh Hashana (New Year) service and a few days later I went out and purchased it---and am very happy I did. I have heard several people say that The Prime Ministers is a quick read and that you will finish it in a couple of days. That wasn't my experience as with over 700 pages it is definitely not a quick read--although I do concur that it is an easy and enjoyable read.

I found The Prime Ministers to be really two books in one. Yehuda Avner--essentially the speechwriter of several Israeli prime ministers writes one book that encompasses from Levi Eshkol through Yitzchak Rabin and then the rest of the book--and really what I feel to be his most poignant writing-is abour the administration of Menachem Begin through his death 9 years after retiring from office. Yehuda Avner does a great job getting across the seriousness of so many moments in Jewish history while at the same time infusing the book with several quite funny moments including his own "birthday" at the Johnson White House with Rabin. I felt that the majority of the book that dealt with Begin's time in office was the most interesting and rewarding from the reader's standpoint. He painted Begin as a man of such deep principles, such an incredible leader during difficult times, and someone who really stood up for all of Israel with both friends and foes. The description of the relationship he built with Anwar Sadat was a highlight of the book.

I very much enjoyed The Prime Ministers and recommend it highly for anyone looking for a good survey of Israeli history from Eshkol through Begin.
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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
The Sense of an Ending

Joseph Landes, December 8, 2011

I picked up The Sense of an Ending a few days after it was named the Man Booker Winner of 2011 and raced through it in almost one sitting. The book itself is an easy read and evokes memories of high school shenanigans, good friends, friends who one loses touch with but never forgets, and early but lost love.

This is a tough book to review without giving away what I believe is one of the best endings I have read in some time. The story is about a middle-aged, divorced man named Tony Webster who has lost touch over the years with his high school and college friends. They all start to reappear however in not always positive ways as he grows older. Two of them--his old girlfriend Veronica and his old friend Adrian-play the most central role in the book as he struggles with old memories of their time together and is then presented with what can only be described as a shocking culmination to his attempt to reunite with Veronica after many years.

The writing is beautiful and easy to read. I found myself re-reading the last 10 pages a few times to make sure I really grocked the ending which was not super straightforward. I highly recommend this well-written book with a very exciting and thought-provoking conclusion.
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Snowdrops by A. D. Miller
Snowdrops

Joseph Landes, December 8, 2011

As always, there seems to be at least one runner-up Man Booker awared nominee where you say to yourself "that one could just as well have won." Snowdrops is a well-written, fast moving story about a British lawyer named Nick Platt who has worked in oil-boom Moscow for a number of years. He is the kind of lawyer who works on deals, most of them of the shadier variety where the buyers and sellers of land and property are as gaudy as they are crooked. Nick happens upon two sisters--Masha and Katya---as he is walking home through one of the well-known Moscow subway underground passages. He "saves" them from a purported robbery and then takes up with one of them in what appears(at least to him) to be a deepening relationship. Masha then engages Nick to help her aunt Tatiana with a real estate purchase which ends up going in a much different direction than imagined--at least to Nick. Anyone who has visited or lived in Moscow will no doubt appreciate the attention to detail the author puts towards describing the buldings, streets, babushkas, and the general mood of the inhabitatns of this amazing city. Through Nick Platt, the author makes you feel empathy not just for Nick himself but really for Muscovites in general and in particular the less than well-off of the city and country. An exciting and well worth read.

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