Books I read

I will be listing books that I have read together with my own short notes about them.

3. Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
by Nelson Mandela

Chronicled Mandela’s journey from a “runaway” village boy to a runaway political activist before finally becoming the President of independent South Africa. It is a very honest book, and at times open confessions of weakness from a man who is today a living legend – to remind us that Mandela is a real person like all of us. His struggle against injustice and oppression should inspire the world to ensure that we’ll never see the lights of apartheid ever again. Reading it from a Malaysian context, I realized although the degree was greatly different, Malaysians can identify with pre-independent SA, especially in terms of politics of race, oppression of alternative voice, political hegemony, suppression of freedom. Mandela was even charged under the SA version of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, a preemptive martial law which gives police the power to detain without trial. Long Walk to Freedom is not only about the journey of one man or a nation, but it is really about the journey of humanity towards goodness. It may have ended for Mandela, but we are still walking. Hopefully, his journey will give us strength to walk on!

– Read more on Google Books

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2. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitude
by Jacques Ellul 

This is a book by the late French philosopher and anarchist Jacques Ellul. It explores the dynamics of information and how they affect our thinking, and action. I am of course reading this book in a political context but I believe those in marketing and those who are interested in leadership development can benefit from understanding how our brain interacts with ideas around us.

Propaganda: The Formation of Men’€™s Attitudes (note the masculine noun of the 60s) was Ellul’€™s attempt to analyze how political parties and corporations influence the reactions of the masses through propaganda techniques. In writing about propaganda, he was not condoning such acts, but were trying to deconstruct propaganda activities so that, his own words, “€œconfronted by a necessity, man must become aware of it, if he is to master it. As long as man denies the inevitability of a phenomenon, as long as he avoids facing up to it, he will go astray. He will delude himself, by submitting in fact to “necessity” while pretending that he is free ‘€œin spite of it’€, and simply because he claims to be free. Only when he realizes his delusion will he experiences the beginning of genuine freedom”€.

– Read more on Google Books

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1. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
by Niall Ferguson

This is an informative yet entertaining book about the history of the monetary system, interesting read on the genesis of money, banks, the stock market, insurance, subprime mortgage etc. See how banks “create” money out of literally nothing, how the world with its large businesses go around each day by a single word: Trust, that the first modern Insurance was created by Protestant ministers wanting to secure the livings of their widows and children at old age. Reads like a novel about how money work in the world.

– Read more on Google Books

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