The 2002 reading list appended below features 30 books for your
reading pleasure: three books that we reviewed previously on
the Forum Web site this year; four new books by Highlands participants;
three books that we used in researching topics for Highlands
Forum XIX; ten new titles that we have run across recently
and want to share with you; and ten books recommended by our
guest editors. Our guest editors this year are Orson Scott Card,
Steven Johnson, Jay Winik, William Haseltine, Joseph Traub,
and John Seely Brown.
The 2002 Highlands Forum reading list comprises several categories:
science, technology, management, history, sociology, international
relations, science fiction and art. Most are new titles, some
are classics. They have been selected both for their topics
and for their capacity for broadening our understanding of
emerging issues and the way that we think about things. We
began compiling an annual list in 2000 at the request of many
Highlands participants who read our book reviews on the Web
site. This is a continuing work - additional titles
will be added during the year and compiled at the end of each
in a larger list. Review our 2001 list.
Winik, author of the New York Times bestseller,
April 1865: The Month That Saved America,
recommends The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s
by Piers Brendan. Jay tells us: "The
Dark Valley is a fascinating - and extensive -
overview of the murky, turbulent and fateful years before
the outbreak of World War II and the events that would set
the course for the rest of the 20th century. In this period
the shining hopes that followed the close of World War I would
end, diffuse economic and social crises would gather into
a great political crisis and an equally fearsome military
storm, relentless propaganda would obscure the rise of virulent
tyranny, and the civilized western world would grapple with
what to do next. A massive book, it need not be read sequentially;
one can skip around. What is clear is this: our past travels
with us everywhere, clinking along like a ball and chain.
Given the ferment of today's world, one can never fail to
profit from reading about the errors - and successes
- of previous generations."
Scott Card is the Hugo and Nebula award-winning author
of Ender's Game, and the current New York Times
best-seller, Shadow Puppets. He recommends two related
books to our Highlands readers: Swords Against
the Senate and Warriors of the Steppe:
A Military History of Central Asia, 500 BC to 1700 AD,
both by Erik Hildinger. Card says: "While
I've read many books about more contemporary events, they
will all be familiar to Highlands Forum participants, I'm
that they might overlook, but which is really quite apropos,
is Erik Hildinger's Swords Against the Senate. His
Warriors of the Steppe: A Military History of Central Asia,
500 BC to 1700 AD is also very interesting and, by analogy,
quite instructive. In Swords Against the Senate, Hildinger
tracks the destruction of the Roman constitution in relation
to the use and misuse, the treatment and mistreatment of the
army. The willingness of various leaders to make permanent
changes to the constitution in order to achieve temporary
benefits - whether altruistic or selfish - ended
up being the cause of the downfall of the republic."
Haseltine, Chairman and CEO, Human Genome Sciences,
Inc., tells us: "I have two books to recommend. The first
is The Gene Masters by Ingrid
Wickelgren. The Gene Masters is a behind-the-scenes
account of the public and private efforts to understand and
make use of the human genome. Ingrid Wickelgren, a writer
for Science, captures the personalities of the main players.
The book provides an accurate picture of the technologies
and public and private policies of those involved in understanding
the human genome.
I am also recommending another book which may seem a bit odd,
as it was published some time ago, in 1957: The
Glass Bees by Ernst Jünger.
This book is timely, as it is an imaginative portrayal of
technologies and organizations that were as yet unrealized
but may become an important part of the 21st century. These
technologies are applicable both to entertainment and to war.
This is a truly remarkable book, beautifully written and translated."
Johnson, author of the award-winning Emergence:
The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software,
recommends Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified
Theory of the Web by David Weinberger.
"It is one of the most engaging accounts of the Web's
cultural impact published to date. Written by Dave Weinberger,
one of the co-conspirators behind The Cluetrain Manifesto,
it's a more intimate account of the new social geography possible
online. The title refers to the underlying philosophy of the
web - decentralized, loosely coupled, bottom-up -
and the book is an exploration of how that philosophy trickles
down into the ways we actually inhabit this new world: the
new kinds of hypertext connections we make, new kinds of celebrity,
new forms of knowledge sharing. It's both a guide to the future,
and a rumination on our recent past."
Traub, Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Computer
Science at Columbia University, recently gave distinguished
lectures at Peking University in Beijing and Fudan University
in Shanghai. Joe writes: "The Chinese are very concerned
about education and are targeting science and technology as
crucial to their future. The changes in China since my last
visit in 1989 are astonishing. Beijing and Shanghai have been
transformed into modern cities. In 1989 everyone was on bikes
and our car was one of the few on the streets.
Beijing has terrible traffic jams and severe air pollution.
I recommend Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
by Jung Chang. The grandmother was concubine to a
warlord, the mother was very active in the Communist Party
during the time of Mao, and the author lives in London. It
reads like a novel but it is biographical and testifies to
the vast changes in China during the 20th century. A second
book that might be of interest to the Forum is China
Wakes: The Struggle For the Soul of a Rising Power
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDann. This is a
report on China from Tian An Men Square into the 1990's. The
authors worked in the Beijing office of the New York Times
and since both speak Chinese, they give many interesting insights."
Seely Brown, Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation
and author of The Social Life of Information, writes:
"Many of your readers may already have seen this, but
given the interest that the Forum has in networks, I would
highly recommend Linked: The New Science of Networks
by Albert-László Barabási, a
professor of physics at Notre Dame. It is filled with fascinating
ideas about small worlds, six degrees of separation, etc.
This is a pretty damn good book on this topic.
other I was impressed with this year is The Rise
of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure,
Community and Everyday Life by Richard
Florida. This may well have interesting ramifications
on all kinds of issues. The creative class includes scientists,
engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists, and entertainers.
Florida details the workings of these thought leaders whose
economic function is to create new ideas, new technology,
and new creative content. Their massing in smaller cities
has completely transformed the city's fabric and identity
- what does this tell us?"
Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime
by Eliot Cohen. An insightful look at civil-military
relations in crisis and wartime through historical case studies
of Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill, and Ben Gurion. This book
has been the touchstone of the current discussions on leadership
style in Washington.
Warrior Elite: The Forging of Seal Class 228 by Dick Couch
and Cliff Hollenbeck. A gritty and harrowing account
of the 28 week BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) course
for Navy (Sea/Air/Land) SEAL Special Forces. His account of
Hell Week, the culmination of a fatiguing, wrenching three-phase
course intended to produce men who are physically, psychologically,
and technically the best in the world at what they do, may
leave the average reader short of breath. Also on view is
much serious thought by serious thinkers on the making of
warriors at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response
by Bernard Lewis. This is a concise and timely survey
of how Islamic civilization fell from worldwide leadership
in almost every frontier of human knowledge five or six centuries
ago to a "poor, weak, and ignorant" backwater that
is today dominated by "shabby tyrannies ... modern only
in their apparatus of repression and terror." He offers
no easy answers, but does provide an engaging chronicle of
the Arab encounter with Europe in all its military, economic,
and cultural dimensions.
Demon in the Freezer: A True Story by Richard Preston.
If you aren't a bit concerned now, you will be after
reading Preston's latest. Following The Cobra Event
and The Hot Zone, this time Preston tackles the most
timely and vexing problem of smallpox falling into the hands
of bad actors. A sizeable amount of the former Soviet Union's
smallpox stockpile remains unaccounted for, leading to fears
that the virus has fallen into the hands of nations or terrorist
groups willing to use it as a weapon. Scarier yet, some may
even be trying to develop a strain that is resistant to vaccines.
This disturbing reality is the focus of this fascinating,
terrifying, and important book.
Digital Biology by Peter J. Bentley. The concept
of Digital Biology is that biological systems (brains,
plants, insects, etc.) were "designed" in a certain
way because there was an inherent advantage to this design.
Therefore, if we can understand the principles behind the
design, we can take these techniques and use them in our software
and hardware. How are basic biological discoveries helping
fuel the next revolution in computers? Digital Biology
reveals how the digital world will evolve, based on biological
Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard
Rheingold. Sophisticated mobile Internet access is
allowing people who don't know each other to act in concert.
Rheingold (The Virtual Community) conveys how cell
phones, pagers and PDAs are shaping modern culture. Case studies
include social flocking and the "Battle for Seattle".
This book follows nicely in the footsteps of Arquilla and
Ronfeldt's Networks and Netwars.
Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks
by Mark Buchanan. This is one of four intriguing
books on varying aspects of networks that we have recommended
(do you detect a slight bias that will result in a Highlands
Forum topic in 2003?). It joins Linked, Smart Mobs,
and Small Pieces Loosely Joined as a family of books
to look at networks this year. Will a network science emerge
that helps us understand a variety of complex organizational
systems by describing the puzzles of human behavior and connections
in mathematical terms? Buchanan sees biology, computer science,
physics, and sociology as intimately connected. Are the similarities
among these networks merely a coincidence or the result of
some underlying physics?
Future of the Past by Alexander Stille. An absolutely
fascinating book. Scholars work feverishly to study and preserve
precious monuments, rare species and ancient manuscripts,
relying on ever more advanced forms of technology in their
efforts, while the accelerating rate of technological change,
industrialization, population growth, and pollution threatens
to destroy these treasures. Hence, a cycle of preservation
and destruction perpetuates itself. Stille brings to life
the passionate and forceful personalities of preservationists,
dedicated scholars, bald opportunists, looters, and other
key players in the world of conservation and preservation.
Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances by J.
Richard Hackman. Hackman, one of the world's leading
experts on group and organizational behavior, argues that
the reason that many teams fail or reach unsatisfactory conclusions
is rooted in flawed thinking about team leadership. It is
not a leader's management style that determines how well a
team performs, but how well a leader designs and supports
a team so that members can manage themselves.
The Ultimate Resource by Daniel Goleman. Like
a business library between two covers, this exhaustive reference
offers a no-frills, serious approach to achieving the trifecta:
in seven sections, over 200 contributors from Warren Bennis
to Peter Drucker offer insights, information, and practical
guidance on every aspect of management. The Best Practice
section includes some 160 mini-articles on competition, marketing,
personnel and leadership; Management Checklists; and Action
lists. There are summaries of key business books, both new
and classic, that make up the Management Library, while the
Business Thinkers and Management Giants section profiles movers
and shakers from Astor to Edison to Woolworth.
Calvin, Professor of theoretical neurobiology and
Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
at the University of Washington, was a featured presenter
Forum VIII: The Mind, The Brain, and Computing. Bill writes
to us: "It is difficult to make brief remarks
about a book that starts with how climate lurches resonate
with punctuated equilibria to accelerate human brain evolution...
but I just happen to have in my pocket some op-ed-sized remarks
that I always take along when visiting DC, on the off-chance
that someone will invite me in off the street - say,
Pennsylvania Avenue - and ask what I think a science
advisor ought to be saying these days." Linked below
is Bill's speech to Phi Beta Kappa on the occasion earlier
this month of receiving the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award for
Science for A Brain for All Seasons (http://faculty.washington.edu/wcalvin/2002/PBK.htm).
Morowitz is Clarence Robinson Professor of Biology
and Natural Philosophy at George Mason University and the
former Director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study.
Author of numerous books, among them The Kindly Dr. Guillotin
(reviewed here in March, 1998), Harold was also the moderator
for Highlands Forum VIII: The Mind, The Brain, and Computing.
His new book is The Emergence of Everything.
We have long been interested in the study of complexity and
the properties of emergence in Highlands Forum discussions
(see Steven Johnson's Emergence), and now Harold takes
us on a sweeping tour of the universe, a tour with 28 stops,
each one highlighting a particularly important moment of emergence.
What is emergence? According to the Oxford Review,
"When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts
- indeed, so great that the sum far transcends the parts
and represents something utterly new and different -
we call that phenomenon emergence. When the chemicals diffusing
in the primordial waters came together to form the first living
cell, that was emergence. When the activities of the neurons
in the brain result in mind, that too, is emergence."
Scott Card, one of our guest reviewers featured above,
has a new novel burning up the New York Times best-seller
list. It is a continuation of the seminal Ender's Game
and is titled Shadow Puppets. If you
are an avid fan of Ender and followed his saga, this book
begins with the shattered unity that existed after the great
wars. Nations are rising again, seeking territory and influence,
and most of all, seeking to control the skills and loyalty
of the children from the Battle School. Peter Wiggin, Bean
and Petra, and the rest of Ender's Dragon, are front and center
as they take their place in the new government of Earth.
Brin is the Hugo and Nebula award-winning author
of Earth, Startide Rising, The Uplift War,
and The Postman. His new novel this year is an exceptional
tale called Kiln People. This is a
"sci-fi-meets-noir" novel. In Kiln People's
"Xerox run amok" future, people are able to make
cheap, disposable clay copies of themselves. These "dittos"
live for one day to serve their master, who can then choose
whether or not to "inload" the memories of the ditto's
brief life. Then the noir mystery kicks in. David urges the
reader to question notions of memory, individualism, and technology,
and to answer the schizoid question "which 'you' is 'you'?"
We are frequently asked for titles of books that were used
in preparation for Highlands Forum meetings during the year.
Earlier this year we held Highlands
Forum XIX: Shared Informational Awareness in Carmel Valley,
California; the following books were used in preparation for
Excellence, by Edwin Schlossberg. Ed Schlossberg
builds magnificent interactive experiences like The Ellis
Island Family Heritage Center, and Ed passionately believes
that the human interface is an especially important dimension.
In his slim but engaging volume, he says: "The audience
for everything has grown in size, and the number of experiences
to watch has grown even more rapidly. These two factors mean
that the nature of the audience must change. When that occurs,
our current standards of excellence need to be rethought and
redefined. New standards our grandparents could not have imagined
need to be developed..."
Game, by Orson Scott Card. In Ender's Game,
Mazer Rackham tells Ender, "There is no teacher but the
enemy." This has never been more true than in today's
asymmetric environment; there is much to learn from Card and
Ender. Not much can be said that most of you don't already
know. If you have heard of Ender, you know what we mean. If
you haven't, get it and read it. A classic.
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative,
by Edward Tufte. How we display information conveys
so much... or so little. The master of visual explanations,
who tells a wonderful narrative story and then shows us great
and egregious examples of illustration that either made or
lost the point, gives us an indispensable book. Visual
Explanations centers on dynamic data - information
that changes over time. Tufte has described the three volumes
of his series as being about, respectively, "pictures
of numbers, pictures of nouns, and pictures of verbs."
Like its predecessors, Visual Explanations is both
intellectually stimulating and beautiful to behold. Get any
of the three Tufte volumes, but this one is a favorite.
The Life and Times of an American Titan, by Alexandra
Villard de Borchgrave and John Cullen, was reviewed
on the Highlands Forum Web site in March, 2002. Villard
told the story of Henry Villard, one of America's more obscure
great "titans" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
He was present at the great events that forged the nation,
shaped the ideas and opinions of generations, and built the
industrial and technological foundation of twentieth-century
America. He was a Civil War journalist, a railroad developer,
a memoirist who knew the great leaders of the day, and a great
venture capitalist who bridged the industrial and technological
eras connecting two centuries.
Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science
that Changed the Course of World War II, by Jennet Conant,
was reviewed on the Highlands Forum Web site in November,
2002. Tuxedo Park is the story of Alfred Lee Loomis
and takes us to the inner circles of the twentieth century
giants of finance, science, diplomacy, government, and war.
Loomis was a Wall Street tycoon who utilized his wealth and
influence as a powerful force to personally contribute to
science and assure the victory of the Allies in World War
II. After amassing a fortune, he mastered microwave technology
and nuclear physics, and then manipulated FDR's cabinet to
prioritize development of the atom bomb. Both Villard
and Tuxedo Park grace our recommended reading list
of 2002 and together they trace a remarkable history of a
full century, replete with inside accounts of the affairs
of great figures such as Lincoln, Grant, Edison, Roosevelt,
Churchill, Bohr and Oppenheimer.
Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, by George
Dyson, was reviewed on the Highlands Forum Web site
in March, 2002. Project Orion, while not an individual
biography like its two predecessors, Villard and Tuxedo
Park, is the biography of a remarkable group of scientists
undertaking an effort worthy of those in the two previously
reviewed books. It traces the development of a nuclear-propelled
interplanetary spaceship in 1957. Orion was one of the first
projects taken on by ARPA (the Advanced Research Projects
Agency - now DARPA), the people who also brought you
the Internet. This is a story of great vision and bold execution
in a period of fearsome competition with the Soviet Union.