Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I just finished Endgame by Frank Brady.

Endgame is targeted to be the definitive Bobby Fischer biography, written by an expert in his life and completed after Bobby's death.

It's a well written and researched book, with more detail on his post 1972 life than I have read elsewhere.  Well worth reading for anyone interested in chess, cold war politics or the dangers of some kinds of genius.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Over the weekend, I finished At Any Price by Brian Freemantle.

At Any Price is a business thriller, about the head of a well run US based hotel chain trying to buy a poorly run UK based one. Along the way, lots of things are learned about the family that runs the UK hotel chain and about the struggle between the protagonist and his father in law, each of which blame the other for the death of the protagonist's wife and baby.

It's an OK read, but the world of business has changed so much since 1982 that what might have been a tense strategic battle just seems old and quaint, undermining the rest of the book.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Two non-fiction books I finished in the last week or so:

The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics by David Harriman is an attemp to apply Ayn Rand's theory of concepts to the area of induction.  It's an interesting book, and one that could be a starting point for many interesting philosophical discussions.  There have been some criticisms online of some of the historical points he makes, and some of those arguments could undermine the foundation he builds for his view of induction.  But in general, the arguments seemed solid and mostly convincing to me, though they could use further development and fleshing out.

A bonus is that his discussions of the history of physics and chemistry are compelling in and of themselves.  In particular, his history of how the atomic theory developed is the best I have read.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson is a an odd mix of a book.  It's built around the rooms of his home but at times the connection between the room and the topics discussed is tenuous at best.  But the topics covered are always interesting, from a history of lighting to a discussion of sewage and disease theory, and there are tons of interesting little facts and anecdotes.