Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster


Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

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Originally published: 1997
Original title: Чернобыльская молитва
Authors: Svetlana Alexievich
Page count: 256 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (April 18, 2006)
Subjects: Political Science
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312425848
ISBN-13: 978-0312425845
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

Awards: National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

 

100 Word Book Review:

An extremely depressing and devasting book that compiles 500 eyewitnesses, including firefighters, rescuers, cleanup crews, politicians, physicians, physicists and ordinary citizens over a period of 10 years. The author has effectively captured the details of misery, confusion and misinformation on the effects of radiation from the terrible disaster. From the narrations from various parties, it gives different experience and perspectives through the victims/survivors’ eyes. It is clear at that point of time that there was a horrible lack of information of radiation effects on humans. Lives were lost right after the explosion, and many, many, more after that.

 

Who should read:

Survivors who went through physical and mental hardships. People who been through crisis and fels that the world is ending. This books explores the though process of depression, survival and recovery. The possible things that can be done, and should be done for a gradual recovery.

 

Who should NOT read:

Readers who are expecting a happy story, should avoid this book at all costs! It documents the sufferings of the affected, the physical and mental torments and injuries due to radiation burns, and the lack of knowledge to handle radiation. There is no way it can be a happy story, no matter how the author writes it. It is indeed sad and depressing.

 

Takeaway points:

Science brings the best, and the worst to mankind. Knowledge is of paramount importance to ensure survival.

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Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

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Originally published: 18 September 18 2018
Original Title: Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World
Author: by Tom Wright (Author), Bradley Hope (Author)
Page count: 400 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0316436502
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches | 635 grams

100 Word Book Review:

Descriptively, it traces and dissects the events that transpire from the beginnings to the massive international financial scandal till the present day. From interviews and third-party observations, it documents how Low used tricks and ways to achieve his aims, giving a glimpse into the Low’s mind, and explaining Jho Low’s modus operandi. This book does not simply include and involve Low himself. From Wynton Group to Najib to Otaiba and a myriad of celebrities, it focuses on every individual, every company and governments that have been, unfortunately, implicated in this unbelievable scam. A true-life thriller that reads like Hollywood movie.

Who should read:

People who loves financial thriller and mystery which remains unresolved. At the same time, those with some basic accounting knowledge and corporate structures, in terms of subsidiary and shell companies, will enjoy this book much more.

This is largely because 20% of the book discusses on the framework and layout of Jho Low’s thinkings, as well as execution. With the required knowledge, be it professional or academic background, reading the book feels almost like meeting Jho Low himself.

Who not read it:

Surely those who are seeking fictional or fantasy stories will be disappointed.

As much as the book indicates that any error is on the authors, the book is largely based on witnesses and observations. So it is very easy to believe that the accounts are true and accurate.

Lastly, perhaps those who have a grudge against 1MDB and other related parties. When such unresolved cases are still pending, there will be other sides of the story which are unaccounted for.

Takeaway point:

  • Greed has no boundaries, and some will go to great lengths to satisfy the insatiable wants.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

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Originally published: 09 Feb 2016
Original Title: The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Author: John Perkins
Page count: 384 pages
Publisher: BERRETT-KOEHLER
Genre: Non-fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1626566743
Product Dimensions:55 x 83 x 10mm | 498.95g

100 Word Book Review:

Personally I think business is just business, where willing parties cut deals together. The author describes his career in Seychelles, Honduras, Ecuador, Libya, Turkey, Western Europe, Vietnam, China, and, in perhaps the most unexpected and sinister development, the United States, where new EHMs (Economic Hit Man such as bankers, lobbyists, corporate executives) to con governments and the public submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Yet author also provides hope, offering a detailed list of specific actions we can take to transform into a model that provides sustainable abundance for all. So not all is lost.

Who should read:

Readers who love spy stuffs, thriller and corporate covert missions will enjoy this book better.

Probably also suitable for those who are interested in solving corporate mystery, the one of the kind of the greatest and unspoken white collar crime.

Who should not read it:

People who are looking for gore and violence will be solely disappointed.

As much as there are some partial mentions of murder and ‘accidents’, this book does not divulge much on the bloody details.

Surely not for those who are seeking adrenaline pumping actions or fighting scenes.

Takeaway points

  • There is a blurred line between right or wrong. And to be able to discern right or wrong, it greatly depends on perspectives.
  • Governments which run like corporates are the most efficient and effective to achieve goals.
  • But is it justifiable at the costs of others?

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Originally published: 24 April 2017
Original Title: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
Author: Sheryl Sandberg, Adam Grant
Page count: 240 pages
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Non-fiction, Self Help, Psychology
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1524732684
Product Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 25 mm

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction (2017)

100 Word Book Review:

Sheryl opens up describing the grief and isolation in the wake of her husband’s sudden death. No proper farewells, no premonition nor physical indications of an end. Abrupt as it is, life goes on. Option B illustrates that deep within us, we all have resilience and adaptation. A dynamic evolutionary process that fits us to our current circumstances. While Sheryl was certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again, her psychologist friend Adam Grant guided her. Indeed, it is a sad book to read but this will help readers to seek the recovery strength within themselves.

Who should read:

Ironically, Option B is very suitable for those who are upset, depressed or despondent. The author been through possibly the lowest point in life one could ever be.

One may argue what she been through is worse than having suicidal thoughts. But this is not the point here. If anyone is upset and depressed for prolonged period of time, he or she should seek help. Of which the author did, and she is using herself as a living example to guide those in need too.

Who should not read:

Obviously readers who are expecting a happy story, or maybe a sad-first-then-happy-ending-story, should not read it.

Option B focuses quite a bit on the author’s feelings and emotional state. Unknowly, one will eventually feel equally depressed or probably even worse after that.

Also, the positive turn comes much later towards the end of the book. So it takes a bit of patience to get to that part.

Takeaway points:

  • Life is short, unexpected, a constant struggle
  • It is natural to feel sad, but it is important to snap out of it and recover.
  • Life goes on, and there are so much more.
  • Happy and sad things happen for a reason, and at times, happen unexpectedly without a reason too. And events that happen without a reason usually will have the greatest impact.

 

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

 

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

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Originally published: 19th May 2015
Original Title: Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future
AuthorAshlee Vance
Page count: 400 pages
Publisher: Ecco
Genre: Biography
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062301233
ISBN-13: 978-0062301239
Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches

100 Word Book Review:

SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, Paypal, and the recent The Boring Company are founded by South African Elon Musk. He is an entrepreneur and innovator who seeks to explore self-sustaining solutions, changing the world to be a better place. The book begins by documenting his difficult environment and rough childhood in South Africa. By 17, he finally moved to Canada which he desired very much. In a chronological order, along with management issues and engineering innovations, it reveals the turbulent personal life of Elon Musk, who called his estranged father ‘a terrible human being’. Overall, Elon prefers not speak about his personal life

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Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

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Originally published: 18th Feb 2013
Original Title: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
Author:Héctor García (Author), Francesc Miralles (Author)
Page count: 208 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Penguin Books (August 29, 2017)
Genre: Self Help
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143130722
ISBN-13: 978-0143130727
Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches

100 Word Book Review

Ikigai a Japanese word describing the art of doing something, where work becomes not work anymore but a way of life. It is the sweet intersection point between passion, mission, vocation, and profession, imbue into daily life. Work becomes second to breathing, an uninterrupted flow in the process of working, immersed and focused. It is an enjoyable journey to see one’s creation comes to fruition. With cited interviews of seniors living past a century, they remain active and work at what they enjoy. It is clear that they’ve found a real purpose in life, living and working every waking moment.

Who Should Read

Those who are stuck in life, procrastinating of things that needs to be done and have not done so in days, weeks or even months. Likewise, those who do work diligently and would like to further understand the mentality of people who worked hard. This new perspective helps them to regain new perspectives which may be helpful in their future endeavors.

Who Should Not Read

Perhaps scientists and research who are seeking quantifiable results and solutions for comparisons between different individuals. This book provides insights and perspectives, not quite numbers and facts for cold hard comparisons.

Takeaway point

Work can be dull and interesting at the same time, it is perspectives and attitude that will help in a more enjoyable working experience.

The Politics Book – DK Publishing


The Politics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

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Series: Big Ideas Simply Explained
Originally published
: 18th Feb 2013
Original Title: The Politics Book
Author: Sam Atkinson ( Senior Editor)Rebecca Warren (US Senior Editor)Kate Johnsen (US Editor)
Page count: 352pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: DK (February 18, 2013)
Genre: Politics
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1465-402-144
ISBN-13: 978-146-540-2141
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches

100 Word Book Review:

An excellent summary of political ideas that have evolved over aeons ago. It beautifully illustrated shadow-like cartoons, succinct quotations, and accessible text that break down even the most difficult concepts so they are easier to grasp. No doubt it has a textbook feel which absolutely aids beginners to gather information. Arranged in a chronological order, it details the birth, development and evolvement of different ideologies. At the same time discussing different perspectives and possibilities. Towards the end, it has a summary page of Terrorism too. A simple, clear, concise yet detailed book for all who are keen in political science.

Fridays with Philip

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Originally published: Aug 2008
Original Title: Fridays with Philip
Author: Philip Lee
Page count: 196 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Epigram Books
Subjects: Political Science, History, Weekly column
Language: English
ISBN-10: 981-08-1128-4
ISBN-13: 978-9810811280
Product Dimensions: 133 x 203mm

100 Word Book Review:

A compilation of weekly column by Philip on Streats during 2000 to 2005. The writings are arranged by subject matter namely, Language, People, Nostalgia, Anecdotes. It compromises largely on local (Singapore) trends and Philip’s observation and thoughts, such as the Speak Good English campaign, American Idol’s William Hung and dignity, why Singapore women go for ang mohs (non-Asians), our youth, local’s perception of foreign workers and etc. The content is very much close to heart, expressed in a sharp witty manner, much from local’s perspectives. It is a great book for short reading and reminisces Singapore in the 2000s.

About the Author:
Philip Lee has been a journalist since 1974 when he left the civil service to join The Straits Times as a reporter. He spent the first seven years covering politics, the civil service and reviewed local plays. He rose over the years to become Associate News Editor, News Editor (The Sunday Times) and Chief Copy Editor of The Straits Times.

In 1990, he left for a new life in Vancouver, Canada but returned in 2000 to work again as Copy Editor with The Straits Times. He also had stints as a copy editor with the tabloids, Streats, and The New Paper. He works as a writer with the Special Projects Unit in the Marketing Division of Singapore Press Holdings. He cooks, enjoys The New York Times crossword puzzles and sings the oldies when in the company of songloving friends.

The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew

 The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew

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Originally published: 12 September 2012
Original Title: The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew
Authors: Lee Kuan Yew
Page count: 680 pages (Hardcopy)
Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1st edition (October 14, 1998)
Subjects: AutoBiography, Political Science, History
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0130208035
ISBN-13: 978-0130208033
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 2 inches

100 Word Book Review:

A factual and concise book documenting Singapore’s history from Lee Kuan Yew’s perspective, illustrating his challenges, frustrations as well as personal observations of people and events. From a brief background of his childhood through the colonial days, the Japanese Occupation, then the post war and internal self-government, then finally the merger with Malaysia and subsequent Singapore’s Separation from Malaysia. Each chapter details the dangers and opportunities, the hardship that Lee Kuan Yew and his team faced internally and externally. It brings clarity to historical events during the forming years, documenting Singapore’s arrival in the global village of nations.

SINGAPORE CHRONICLES: GOVERNANCE

Singapore Chronicles : Governance

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Originally published: 21 December 2016
Authors: Ho, Peter / Shroff, Anuradha / Tan, Codey / See, Hazel / Leong, Lena
Page count: 136
Publisher: Straits Times Press
Country: Singapore
Subjects: Political Science
ISBN: 978-981-4747-19-6
Size: 129 mm x 196 mm (portrait)
Estimated weight: 175 grams

100 Word Book Review:

This is a 50 volume series documenting the challenges that Singapore faced after Independence, shaped by its leaders’ long-term vision. The main key aspects of Singapore’s governance – incorruptibility, pragmatism and meritocracy. It also elaborates the roles played by institutions, strategies and policies in place to counter check any deviations. While Singapore has inherited part of the British System, it poses pragmatic problems too. There is a need to depart from welfarism because it saps people’s self-reliance and the need to excel and succeed. A good concise reference book for understanding the basis of Singapore’s public policy and principles of governance.

The Authors

Mr Peter Ho was Head of Singapore’s civil service, concurrent with his other appointments as Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs), Permanent Secretary (National Security and Intelligence Coordination), and Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) in the Prime Minister’s Office. Before that, he was Permanent Secretary (Defence). He is now the Senior Advisor to the Centre for Strategic Futures, where he continues to pursue his interests in good governance and strategic foresight. He is also Chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, and a Senior Fellow in the Civil Service College Singapore.

Ms Anuradha Shroff is a Lead Researcher in the Institute of Governance and Policy in the Civil Service College (CSC) Singapore. She is also a facilitator and trainer for the CSC’s leadership and public policy programmes. Her current research focus is on the relevance and application of complexity theories to public policy and leadership. She was previously a lead strategist and facilitator with the Strategic Policy Office, Public Service Division.

Mr Codey Tan is an Assistant Manager in the Institute of Public Sector Leadership in the Civil Service College (CSC) Singapore. He is also a facilitator for the CSC’s public policy programmes. His research interest lies in public sector governance and the application of complexity theories to public policy. He was previously with the Centre for Public Economics, CSC.

Ms Hazel See is a Senior Manager in the Strategic Planning and Development unit in the Civil Service College (CSC) Singapore. Besides writing thought articles and case studies, she has led training consultancy projects for public sector organisations and regularly facilitates leadership and policy milestone training programmes. Her research interests include public-sector governance, policy and service management. She has been with the CSC since 2010 and was previously with the Ministry of Education.

Ms Lena Leong is a Deputy Director and Principal Learning and Development Specialist in the Civil Service College International in the Civil Service College (CSC) Singapore. She has facilitated Public Administration and Reform programmes for international participants. Her research interests are in public administration and management, organisation change and leadership. She was previously with the Institute of Leadership and Organisation Development and the Centre for Governance and Leadership, CSC.