Book Summaries

This is a complete list of my book summaries in chronological order by title.

Radical: My Journey Out of Islamist Extremism

Maajid Nawaz writes about his life experience, beginning with a childhood where he was targeted by racist bigots through childhood in Essex, to joining and securing a leadership position in a global radical islamic group, to abandoning extremism and becoming a spokesperson for democracy.

Plunder & Deceit

A book about the perpetual expansion of the United States federal government and unelected bureaucrats who guide it toward waste, fraud and abuse on an ever-larger scale. Shocking and discouraging facts about how far the United States has drifted from the founding father’s vision of federalist freedom and accountability.

Homo Deus

An eye-popping look at what the future of humanity looks like, aided by biological engineering, artificial intelligence, and automation among other technologies. The future is going to be weird and wonderful.

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

A book about the positive benefit which natural gas, coal, and oil. A book about how if society demonizes and ban these sources of energy prematurely, billions will suffer. Fascinating empirical data on energy use, alternative sources, and what the future might look like. Overall an encouraging and surprising book.

Digital Minimalism

There’s much more to popular social services like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter than you think. Beneath the surface, they are pulling deep psychological strings within us all, and manipulating our behavior to a shocking degree. This book is about how to unhook yourself from addictive (and often harmful) digital routines by embracing what the author describes as digital minimalism.

Barbarians: How the Baby Boomers, Immigration, and Islam Screwed My Generation

A spitting, tongue in cheek criticism of the welfare state, modern American immigration policy, and tolerance for intolerant ideology. The book tackles each of these subjects in a total of about 100 pages, with hundreds of meme-like popular culture references, in rapid-fire sequence.

Discrimination and Disparities

Stanford economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell conducts a thorough analysis of empirical data on what causes disparities to emerge between individuals and groups in society. A meticulous dismantling of intersectional theory.

The Right Side of History

A book outlining the Greek and Judeo-Christian foundation upon which Western society has been built. Ben’s theory is that the preponderance of depression and anxiety in modern society is due to a lack of collective purpose, which has been eroded by a departure from our religious and cultural heritage.

Before Ebola

The first hand account of the deadliest Marburg outbreak in history, in the slums of northern Angola. Reuters sent the 23 year old author of this book to the country to report on the situation as a foreign correspondent.

Tools of Titans

A 700-page book authored by Tim Ferriss, growth hacker extraordinaire, about the habits and daily practices of successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and celebrities who’ve joined as guests on his podcast.

More Guns, Less Crime

A detailed, statistical analysis of data of gun crime data in America which points to communities with the largest number of legal guns actually being the safest in the country. Technical and controversial. Read the full summary

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future

Our world seems to be collapsing, but by almost every conceivable objective metric, life is getting better on earth. Racism, poverty, war, inequality, and hunger are all sharply trending down. Great news for humanity.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Former Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief Barbara Demick interviewed over 100 North Korean defectors to author this book about ordinary lives in the hermit country. A harrowing but touching look at what life is like in the most inhumane place on earth. Read the full summary

Fluent Forever

Authored by a polyglot fluent in six languages who begun his language odyssey after turning 30, Fluent Forever is a 300+ page book about the science of language and memory, and how to achieve rapid and lasting language learning. Read the full summary

Nineteen Eighty-Four

In future 1984, London is a grim totalitarian state where every aspect of life is scrutinized, and privacy has been eradicated. Protagonist Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his mind still works.

The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch

An English teacher dedicates himself to martial arts training to compete in an MMA (mixed martial arts) fight, while learning about the science and history of hand to hand combat. Read the full summary

The Dark Net

An eye-opening peek into the underworld of the internet, which is accessible through Tor, also known as the onion router. It goes much deeper than some of the dark web sites that have been widely discussed, like The Silk Road.

Beyond Training: Masterful Endurance, Health & Life

A book about achieving excellent in physical training, authored by one of the most influential personal trainers in the United States, Ben Greenfield. Focuses on endurance and strength training, muscle and body recovery, hormonal balance, and diet.

Back to the Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now – Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything

NYT Journalist David Sirota examines how so many of our present-day conflicts are rooted in 1980’s popular culture, from Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good” and Ronald Reagan’s “Make my day” ethos to the “transcendence” of Cliff Huxtable and Barack Obama.

Islam and the Future Tolerance: a Dialogue

A short book based on a dialogue between neuroscientist and famous atheist Sam Harris and former radical Maajid Nawaz about finding common ground and answering some of the most difficult question surrounding the link between Islam and violence in modern society.

Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking

Entrepreneur and journalists Shane Snow (Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker) analyzes the performance of people who achieve incredible things in an implausibly short period of time.

The Checklist Manifesto

By virtue of the modern world, we have access to an incredible volume of information, but we often struggle to make sense of it and act upon it in a meaningful way. Author Atul Gawande writes about how whether you’re a surgeon, airplane pilot, or just a normal person, the most valuable tool to help you navigate productivity might be the simplest one: a checklist. Read the full summary

Fahrenheit 451

In a dystopian future envisioned in this Ray Bradbury novel, firefighters of the future extinguish human expression in the form of printed books. A harrowing reminder of the importance of literacy and how we have the ability to shape the future of human society, for better and for worse.  Read the full summary

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself

This book is about how our brains are filled with stupid beliefs that make us feel smart. Everything from consumer decisions to personal finance, to professional life, we too often fall victim to ourselves. Read the full summary