Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lords of Finance: The Bankers That Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed

Lords of Finance: The Bankers That Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed

In 2009 we’re deep into a major recession in the United States and many other countries throughout the world are experiencing many of the same problems. Each week we hear comparisons to previous recessions and economic downturns – but the benchmark for all financial crisis is the “Great Depression”. So, this seems like a great time to read and learn more about what happened around the world from the end of World War I and the late 1930’s. Liaquat Ahamed has written a great book that documents what was happening in the world during this twenty year period. I highly recommend that anyone interested in learning more about what lead up to the Great Depression and how the financial leaders handled it – must read this book.

In 1918 the world was reeling from the events during World War I and they were trying to rebuild their countries and the economies in those countries. We are all familiar with the bare bones of the end of World War I, the Roaring Twenties in the United States, rebuilding in Europe, the financial crash in the United States, the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party and many of the other events between 1918 and 1938.

· But, how many of us know the details of the individual financial systems in the United States, France, Britain and Germany?

· Do you know what people managed the financial decisions in these countries during that time?

· Do you understand how the gold standard worked and what that meant for each country?

· Do you know what happened in the ongoing debate about war reparations and what that did to various economies around the world?

· What happened within Germany when they were ordered to pay substantial reparations after the war?

· What happened when Germany started printing money around the clock to boost the economy?

These are just a few of the questions that are answered in this book.

In school I remember learning that the financial situation in Germany after World War I was one thing that enabled Adolf Hitler to gain power in Germany. But I never understand the extent of the financial crisis. My depth of understanding on that piece of history has increased dramatically. Understanding what happened in the different countries and the various domino effects are staggering as you turn the pages and see how things fell apart.

I love to read about history and to get a deeper understanding of what led to various events. But I think in the current economic climate – this information is even more important. Most of us have heard the saying that “those who do not study history are destined to repeat it”. That idea kept coming to mind as I read this book and saw many examples of the things these power players in the worldwide economic community tried that failed and in a good number of cases – made the situation much worse.

Through the pages of this book you will meet Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Emile Moreau of the Banque of France, Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank in Germany and Benjamin Strong of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In addition, you will learn how each of these men reached these positions and much about the history of these various financial institutions.

Anyone interested in the economy – and especially people who could make a positive difference in the financial situation – should be required to read this book. For people who are concerned about authenticity – there are 23 pages of notes and references for the information in the book and a 12 page bibliography. This is a long book – over 500 pages of content, plus the notes, bibliography and index. It took me a while to read the book – because its not really the sort of content you want to rush through, but I thoroughly enjoyed the content and feel like I have a much more complete understanding of the things that led up to the Great Depression and how the world recovered from this crisis.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whale Hunting Women by Dr Barbara Weaver Smith

You may be asking what whale hunting has to do with women and why we’re talking about this in the 21st century. I was curious when I first heard the title too – but I can guarantee that this book will surprise you. I’ll share the full time which will give you some insights into the content. This book is titled Whale Hunting Women: How Women Do Big Deals.

We get used to long books that go on and on about a topic – but Whale Hunting Women gets right to the point. I couldn’t find any “fluff” in this book, but there is a lot of great content to help you. These are some of the chapters in this book –

· How Women Hunt Whales.

· Only a Minnow (In a Sea of Whales).

· Small Company Looking Big.

· Small Fish Hunting Whales.

· Radical Culture: Take a Rival to Lunch.

· Radical Culture: Money is Cheap.

· Radical Culture: Kill Some Commandments.

· Who Do You Trust?

· Whale Hunting Resolutions.

Women are uniquely qualified to “hunt whales” because they listen, align and empathize. Men can learn these qualities too – but women are usually raised to have these traits. That gives them a boost in the “whale hunting” concept.

For people who aren’t familiar with whale hunting – the entire village was involved in preparing for the hunt and the right combination of skilled people were necessary for the hunt. Imagine having several people in a small boat and having to hunt and kill a whale – then you have to row the boat to get the whale home. They had no “modern conveniences” like radar, radios, motors and other things to help them bring home the whale to help the people in their village. Today we have many tools to make a whale hunt easier, but we still need a skilled team filled with members who all contribute to the hunt.

Dr Barbara Weaver Smith helps the reader understand that small businesses can look bigger and they can compete with big companies to get the big clients. This is where the team you assemble will make the difference and give you an edge. In the current economic climate, using the tips in Whale Hunting Women allows us to compete with the “big boys” by building our team in creative and productive ways to attract the big clients without piling on additional financial obligations of hiring more staff members.

These ideas are just the beginning of the information that is included in this information packed book. As you read through this book we recommend that you take the time to work through the journal pages. I always like it when the author creates review exercises or journal pages that prompts the reader to dig deeper to learn more and to start applying what they are learning.

If you are a business woman or business owner who would like the tools to take the business to the next level – I highly recommend this book. If you have a woman in your life that is in business and she wants to set herself apart from the crowd – you need to buy this book for her. It is available on along with much more information about Dr Barbara Weaver Smith and Whale Hunting Women.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Manhattan is My Beat by Jeffrey Deaver

This is one of Jeffrey Deaver's early books and the main character is a very colorful young woman named Rune. She has a hard time finding a job and an even harder time keeping a job. Rune isn't her real name of course, but I don't think I remember her mentioning her real name. She was also in Death of a Blue Movie Star - very good book.

In this book Rune is working part time in a video store and she has become friends with an older gentleman who comes in the store and rents the same movie time and time - Manhattan is My Beat. He tells her that the movie is a high point in his life and that means Rune's imagination is working over time. Then one day, she goes to his house to pick up a movie that needs to be returned and she finds him in his apartment --- dead. Talk about kicking your imagination into overdrive.

She cared about the man and now she is determined to figure out what really happened to him. She is also curious about whether he was involved in the unsolved bank robbery that is the subject of Manhattan is My Beat. The problem is, she doesn't realize killers are on her trail and working to tie up some loose ends.

This is an early work by Jeffrey Deaver - but it has his trademark plot twists and there were even a couple that I didn't see coming.

The Devil's Bones by Jefferson Bass

This is the third book in the Body Farm Mysteries by Jefferson Bass. Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson - and what a team they are.

I loved the first book, liked the second but was a little disappointed, but the third is back on target. Its funny I feel that way because The Devil's Bones picks up where Flesh and Bone left off. Dr Bill Brock was just cleared of murder charges, the real murderer was behind bars and Dr Bill is back to work. Sounds peaceful, doesn't it? Don't blink, you might miss what's about to happen.

A woman died in a car that burned - but is her death an accident? Of course not.

Dr Brock is waiting for the trial of the man who killed the woman Dr Bill was falling in love with - but that wait won't be smooth either.

So many possibilities and interesting forensic details that only Dr Bill and Jon can bring to you like this. I highly recommend this book and am waiting to get my hands on the next book in the series. But I will mention there is plenty of detail and if you don't want detailed and at times graphic descriptions, you may want to preced with caution. You won't usually read about blood and guts, but there is plenty of description and authenticity in the pages of these books.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Willing Spirits by Phyllis Schieber

Are you the kind of person who enjoys reading about friendships between women? Many women are the best of friends and they insist that they couldn't get through life without those friendship. If this sounds familiar to you -- this is a book you have to read. I'm not a fan of chick lit - and Phyllis' books have been called chick lit - but I don't agree. Schieber's books are about mature women who are in their 40s or 50s and they have accomplished a lot in their lives - and they have also had their share of difficulties.

In Willing Spirits we meet two friends who are in their 40s and their children are grown and have gone off to college. One (Jane) is married - although she is unhappy. The other (Jane) raised her sons alone because her husband walked out when the boys were very young.

Jane discovers her husband in bed with a younger woman and once the shock and anger wear off - she realizes that she doesn't want to be with him anymore. Her friend, Gwen, is there to support her.

As the story progresses we see the many dimensions of their friendship. We meet their children, mothers, significant others and many other people as these women work their way through their lives. Should a 40 something woman be alone when she isn't married? Is it all right to be involved with a younger man? What should she do when her 20 something daughter finds them in bed together? Is it all right to have an affair with a married man? If he leaves his wife - does that mean he will or that he should live with his mistress? How do grown sons handle their mother and her married lover? And - how can these women juggle their responsibilities and still be true to herself?

These are just some of the answers you will find in this book. You will laugh, you will cry, you will nod at the things that are familiar and you may even raise your eyebrows in surprise - but if you like stories about women, their lives and their friendships - you will enjoy Willings Spirits by Phyllis Schieber.

Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

This is the second novel in the Body Farm series. I really like this series - I will tell you this isn't my favorite book in the series - but it leads into the 3rd which is very good.

Dr Bill Brockton (based on Dr Bill Bass) is back and facing an interesting combination of situations, people and mysteries. We meet a very attractive medical examiner who is also attracted to Dr Brockton and Dr Bill unearths some rotten apples within his acquaintances. He takes the high road and must point out the error and that sets a gruesome and danger set of events in motion.

I won't give you the details -- wouldn't want to ruin the book for you - but there is plenty of action and Dr Bill is even arrested for the murder.... of his lady love. I recommend this book because you should keep up with the series - and even less than stellar from this team is good. There is great forensic detail and plenty of intrigue to keep you wondering what will happen next....

Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore

I was so excited about being asked to work on the promotional campaign for Julianne Moore's new book - Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully.

One of the obvious reasons is because I've heard great things about Julianne Moore.

Another reason is that I've had a great friend since we were about 7 or 8 who has red hair and I remember that he hated it while we were growing up. Now he has a daughter with beautiful red hair.

The other reason is because I've had people pick on me for years for an unusual name (real name, not pen name), I've always been tall and have been 6'1 since I was 13 and I had braces for years. So, I can understand the tough time Freckleface has.

I think its great that Julianne has used her childhood experiences in a way that will help children deal with the things that make them different. Hopefully this story can also help other children understand that they should not pick on people just because they are different. We're all different from one another - we're so much better off if we appreciate the differences, but it seems that is hard for some people.

One rainy morning - Freckleface goes to Early Bird at her school. She loves Early Bird - but Windy Pants Patrick is also there and he's a bully. He picks on all the children - what will Freckleface Strawberry do?

Come along with Freckleface and see what she does in the face of a school bully.

I highly recommend this book for parents and their children. It give parents or other important adults a great opportunity to help children talk about how to deal with bullies and people who pick on them. Its also a great chance to teach children tolerance and caring about others.

LeUyen Pham is back to illustrate this second book in the Freckleface Strawberry series.