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Don Burleson Blog 








A Batch of New Books
September 5
, 2005
Mark Rittman

It's been a while since I ordered a job lot of books through Amazon, but I finally got around to putting an order through last week and a couple of Amazon boxes were waiting for me when I got home yesterday. It's often interesting to see what other people read, so I thought I'd make a note of them here.

The first one is a collection of essays selected by Joel Spolsky entited "The Best Software Writing I" and features articles by amongst others Raymond Chen, Bruce Eckel, Eric Sink and Clay Shirky. I've always been a Joel fan and have read quite a few articles by Eric Sink and the others, so I thought this would be a good one for when I'm away for a few evenings. Looks pretty good.

The next one was a book that was featured in both the Observer Review and the Observer Business Section the other week, and is an "insiders" view on the (management) consulting industry. "Rip-Off! The Scandalous Inside Story of The Management Consulting Money Machine" takes a look at some of the (alleged - Ed.) sharp practices and scams used by the big management consultancies and looks like quite an interesting insight into what (perhaps) goes on on the big consulting contracts.

I've always been interesting in the deal-making that goes on behind new technology, and some of my favourite books are ones such as "Burn Rate" by Michael Wolff, "Start Up!" by Jerry Kaplan and "High St@kes, No Prisoners" by Charles Ferguson that look at how products such as FrontPage ended up becoming the market leader. I also regularly check out the VentureBlog website and was therefore particularly interested to come across "e-Boys : The True Story of the Six Tall Menu Who Backed e-Bay, WebVan and other Billion Dollar Startups", which takes a look at the VC industry and how it helped put together some of the more famous companies. Being honest this one is probably a bit of a flier and it may turn out to be not so good, but I've always been interested in how the VC industry works (if the same goes for you, make sure you check out the three books I mentioned before) and it's for a tenner it seemed worth the gamble.

The last one came as a recommendation after reading "Liar's Poker", a book I always recommend to other people as about the most entertaining (and realistic) story about the excesses in Wall Street in the 80's as you could find. "Monkey Business - Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle" seems to be written in the same vein and taking a look at the reviews : "As a former City solicitor, I can say that this book reads very true to life. When you are living in the world described in the book, you think that it's normal. It's only once you get out that you realise it was a bizarre and unpleasant way of wasting years of your life. (Of course, there are lots of other bizarre and unpleasant ways of wasting time, and most of them don't pay so well, so maybe potential recruits shouldn't be put off too much.)" and "This book is absolutely the funniest book I've read about the investment banking business. The sceptical view of the authors results in some very funny descriptions of working situations they experienced. Next to that, the book is also very insightful. It gives you an idea of the day-to-day activities of the people who just started at the bottom of the ladder at a major bank. Therefore, I would especially recommended the book to people who consider a job in investment banking, because these stories are certainly not part of the flashy recruitment presentations of the banks themselves." Obviously not a programmer's book, but if you're worked in the "real world" (as I did for several years before working on Oracle) and especially if you've worked in finance, it sounds like it could be worth a read.


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