The annual book list is a tradition in many outlets ranging from Blogs to the Booz Allen reading list. Here's my list of books that were memorable in 2007.
- Performance Based Earned Value, Paul J. Solomon and Ralph R. Young, John Wiley & Sons. This book now has yellow markings and 3M tabs on nearly every page. If you manage projects for money and what to know how to do it better, read this book.
- The Requirements Engineering Handbook, Ralph R. Young, Artech House. This is the companion book to PBEV.
- Dereliction of Duty, H. R. McMaster, Harper Collins. A history of Vietnam, the Johnson administration and those who led us into the abyss. Replace Vietnam with Iraq and its the same book. I was there and know a bit about looking into the abyss.
- I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter, Basic Book. Hosfstader's latest book. Godel, Esher, Bach changed my life (so to speak). This is GEB but a good read all the same.
- Arsenals of Folly, Richard Rhodes, Knopf. This is the 3rd book about nuclear weapons and nuclear war. His best. Another example of how naive we are about our leaders and their misguided intentions in their pursuit to protect us from the evils of the world.
- Reasoning about Uncertainty, Joseph Y. Halpren, MIT Press. This is one of those books that is pure "tough going." In the end the understanding of decision theory is the result. All the popular texts and articles are now tossed in the trash. Anyone claiming to have simple solutions to making tough decisions needs to read this book. 467 pages of formal systems in decision logic. Not for the faint of heart.
- Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Penguin Books. Our son was reading this for his HS literature class. a quick 102 pages. I vaguely remember this book many decades ago. Devastating ending. Good airplane book.
- Systems Engineering: Coping with Complexity, Richard Stevens, et al, Prentice Hall. Anyone making claims of a simple, lean, agile approach to complex problems is blowing smoke. Read this book. Investigate the profession and literature of Systems Engineering. (MS in Systems Management, USC 1982 is now back in vogue). Excellent survey of the topic of practical complex systems and approaches to dealing with them. Best understanding - "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." It's wildly popular to suggest all complex problems can be reduced to simple problems with simple solution - wrong.
- Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way, Dan Carrison. While not a Marine I'm am a combat veteran. This is one of those easy read business books that has too many pages. A simple list of principles would have been all that was needed. But it is thought provoking in how simple the ideas of leadership can be applied to almost any domain.
- Catastrophe Disentanglement: Getting Software Projects Back On Track, E. M. Bennatan, Addison Wesley. A nice realistic description of managing troubled projects. No fancy methods or silver bullets. Just plain common sense project management processes.
- Strategic Performance Management: Leveraging and measuring your intangible value drivers, Bernard Marr, Butterworth. All about defining, measuring, and recognizing value. The agilest speak about delivering value. But never speak about the units of measure of this value, or how the value is recognized. Only that the customer defines the value. Well this book and the practices around it define what is meant for the term value - both tangible and intangible - in units of measure meaningful for both sides of the equation - producer and supplier.
- 101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles in World War II, Mark Bando, Zenith Press. A photo book of the 101st. The commanding general in 1970 (my tour of duty) was a 1st LT at Eindhoven in Holland. A long history of infantry commanders.
There are dozens of other book in the "to read" or "been read" pile. All were worth the effort. Some required more effort than other Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are two examples. My wife can burn through these types of books. I have to read every word, like it is a physics text.