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An Impeccable Spy — a thrilling biography of Stalin’s secret agent
March 22, 2019 | Financial Times | by Victor Sebestyen.

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent, by Owen Matthews, Bloomsbury, RRP£25, 448 pages

He was defeated by a problem spies have faced from the Battle of Actium to modern-day Iraq. Often leaders hear only what they want to hear and act on information they find politically useful to them. As such this is a highly relevant book for today.

Richard Sorge was the Soviet spy who stole one of the biggest secrets of the second world war: the precise details of Hitler’s invasion of the USSR in June 1941. Through brilliant espionage “tradecraft” that involved penetrating the highest military and political levels in Germany and Japan, Sorge supplied Moscow with the battle plans of Operation Barbarossa weeks before it happened.

History is full of what ifs. Sorge and his spy ring might have changed the direction of the war. But Stalin would not believe Hitler was planning to invade. Though he was also receiving similar warnings from other Soviet sources, as well as British and US ones, the most suspicious of men would not see he could be betrayed.

The Soviet leader distrusted Sorge, convinced his most able and loyal agent was a traitor on the verge of defecting. Stalin relied more than most dictators on secret intelligence but seldom trusted his spies — especially if they told him something he didn’t want to hear.
biographies  books  book_reviews  espionage  Joseph_Stalin  Nazis  security_&_intelligence  spycraft  WWII 
2 days ago by jerryking
Book Review: Mapping Society: The Spatial Dimensions of Social Cartography by Laura Vaughan | LSE Review of Books
"In Mapping Society: The Spatial Dimensions of Social Cartography – available to download here for free – Laura Vaughan offers an analysis of how maps have both described and shaped social phenomena. This is a scholarly and thoroughly researched book that unpicks the context behind many of the foremost examples of social cartography, finds Inderbir Bhullar, and reveals how the layout of cities can exacerbate or ameliorate social ills."
to:NB  books:noted  book_reviews  maps  visual_display_of_quantitative_information  statistics  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time  track_down_references 
4 weeks ago by cshalizi
Fool Britannia | by Hari Kunzru | The New York Review of Books
“The English, whose opinions have been formed by the shallow charmers and their enablers, seem fundamentally unable to conceive of a relationship with Europe that is not one of either subjection or domination.”
Fintan_O'Toole  Brexit  NYRB  2019  book_reviews 
6 weeks ago by Preoccupations
The Curse of Bigness by Timothy Wu — why size matters
NOVEMBER 15, 2018 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, by Timothy Wu, Columbia Global Reports, RRP$14.99, 170 pages.

The hero of the book is Louis Brandeis, the advocate, reformer and Supreme Court Justice who grew up around the mid-to-late 1800s in Louisville, a diverse and decentralised mid-sized American town that Brandeis praised as “idyllic” and free from the “curse of bigness”...... It was a place where small farmers, retailers, professionals and manufacturers all knew each other, worked together, and had the sort of shared moral framework that Adam Smith believed was a key to well-functioning markets.

But by the time Brandeis himself became a lawyer in Boston, oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan were building empires more powerful than governments (indeed, they often had paid politicians in their pockets — President William McKinley actually acknowledged that Wall Street rather than Washington had control over the economy). Their growing ventures — like Morgan’s railroad monopoly or Rockefeller’s oil dynasty — were neither moral nor even efficient. But the tycoons ....had bought the legislatures, and there was no one powerful enough to reel them in. Brandeis took them on, via a case against Morgan’s New Haven Railway, and exposed the underside of monopoly power — cartel pricing, bribes to officials, accounting fraud and so on....Brandeis believed giant corporations tended to rob people of their humanity....This approach, which was brought into the mainstream by conflicted trust buster Teddy Roosevelt (who both loved and loathed power, but wanted to see corporations curbed by government) lasted through the 1960s. But with the rise of conservative Chicago School academics, in particular Robert Bork, the federal justice who turned the “consumer welfare” ideology of his mentor Aaron Director into a new antitrust philosophy with his book The Antitrust Paradox in 1978, the notion that too much corporate power alone was problematic was abandoned. Antitrust become technocratic and weak, pegged to the idea that as long as companies reduced prices for consumers, they could be as big as they wanted.

That has, of course, allowed any number of industries, from airlines to media to pharmaceuticals, to reach unprecedented levels of concentration.
antitrust  books  book_reviews  Chicago_School  corporate_concentration  FAANG  Rana_Foroohar  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu 
december 2018 by jerryking
Book review: Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill by Jeffrey Gitomer
NOVEMBER 30, 2018 | | Financial Times | by Isabel Berwick.

Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill, with foreword, actions and annotations by Jeffrey Gitomer, Amazon Publishing, RRP$19.95

Napoleon Hill was one of the founders of the American self-improvement movement. Born poor in Virginia in 1883, by the time of the first world war he had developed a set of principles for success in advertising and sales......Hill — who died in 1970 — was a staggeringly effective cheerleader for himself and his philosophy and that is exactly what one would expect from a self-help guru.

The book that made him famous, Think and Grow Rich, distilled Hill’s thinking and analysed the strategies of hundreds of the US’s most famous and successful businessmen. Published in 1937, it has sold in the tens of millions, making it one of the best-selling books of the 20th century. It offered optimism and the idea of the American dream to those suffering in a post-crash economy. The appetite for Hill’s particular brand of self-belief remains strong......Hill's message endures: Hard work, imagination, honesty and service....Hill's insight is that getting oneself into the right frame of mind to become rich and successful — emphasizes having a positive attitude and self-confidence......Jeffrey Gitomer, a US sales trainer and motivational speaker, adds notes and annotations. Gitomer writes in the foreword (ambitiously titled “The First Thoughts of the Father of American Achievement and Wealth”) that he was first exposed to Hill’s writing in 1971, as a sales trainee: “I read Think and Grow Rich 10 times that year — studied and implemented both the principles and the directives. The result for me has been an unbreakable positive attitude and steadfast march toward success over the past 45 years.”

* Don't neglect to cultivate your ‘AMBITION’.
* “Take a plain sheet of paper, ordinary letter size, and write on it in large letters — the largest it will carry — I AM GOING TO BE A GREAT PERSON!”
* the magic key turns out to be “CONCENTRATION”.
* a timeless tip: “The great mass of people are demanding at least the necessities of life at a lower cost than they are now paying. If you can help solve this problem, even on one commodity, you can write your own salary price tag.”

While Christian Science and other outcrops of the New Thought movement have fallen from favour, Hill’s work endures, perhaps because he stresses the importance of happiness, self-confidence and other qualities now fashionable in the self-improvement sphere. Above all, the enduring popularity of Hill’s writing demonstrates that most in-vogue of all the modern mantras: resilience.
affirmations  hard_work  honesty  imagination  book_reviews  books  perseverance  personal_enrichment  self-help  self-improvement  Jeffrey_Gitomer  self-confidence  resilience  the_American_dream 
december 2018 by jerryking

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