Genius Makers

Author: Cade Metz
Rating: ★★★★☆

A good introduction of the history of Artificial Intelligence, through the stories of the major players.

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Superbugs

Author: Matt McCarthy
Rating: ★★★½☆

The main storyline of the book is about the author’s process of conducting a clinical trial of a new antibiotic. The author devotes a large portion of the book to the stories of several patients when he tried to qualify them for the trial, their backgrounds, how they acquired the disease and how they handle their situation. Intertwined with the introduction to basic immunology and the dilemma of antibiotic shortages facing modern medicine, this is the most fascinating aspect of the book.

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Guns, Germs and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond
Rating: ★★★★½

The author sets off to answer one of the most challenging questions about human history, why did human civilizations become so diversified in their forms, and especially why did they develop in such different pace? Why is it countries in the Eurasian continent that dominated civilizations in other region? Dr. Diamond presents a lot of researches, data and diagrams to support his conclusion, however, this is more of a logic book than a historical book to me. I have never read a book with such a rigorous reasoning that demands a vast amount of critical thinking, at the same time keep me intrigued and reading more.

The conclusions should only be applied to the large scale, the entire history of human development in the past tens of thousands of years. It is certainly tempting to derive certain explanation based on the recent history of the last several hundred years, but the results will be far less convincing.

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The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union

Author: Serhii Plokhy
Rating: ★★★★☆

The author uses the first-hand materials and previous classified documents to outline a series of events between the failed coup in August 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union by the end of the year. He reveals that financial difficulties and independent movements were the major drivers that crumbled the empire in a unthinkable pace, and Bush’s administration was actually trying to keep the Soviet Union alive longer. Sometimes, the history just cannot be designed.

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Silk Road

Author: Peter Frankopan
Rating: ★★★★☆

An epic view of the place between the east and the west, the place that has been the center of the world for thousands of years, connected by the trade and fought by the powers, where the civilizations met and collided. I wish the author had more materials to cover the further east where the Silk Road starts, China.

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Visual Intelligence

Author: Amy E. Herman
Rating: ★★½☆☆

It’s a unique approach teaching people how to see and communicate effectively by studying works of art, and it’s practically useful to apply these skills to the everyday life no matter what your occupation is. However, the originality cannot support entire 300+ pages. In a lot of sections, the author keeps offering anecdotes as testimonials to back her lengthy advice, obviously good advice but common senses as well. I’d hope the length of the book could be cut in half or include more drawings, which are the most interesting.

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