The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson

This book is about the evanescence of life, and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, other in the manufacture of sorrow.

– Erik Larson.

The Devil in The White City The Spirit of Entrepreneurship in America

This is a fascinating book. Yes it is a great read full of suspenseful moments, and at times horrific details, of the murders by H. H. Holmes in Chicago circa 1890s. Yes it is a great book about the Columbus World's Fair that was built in Chicago in 1893 by America's greatest architects. Yes it is entertaining and yes it is historic.

But what makes this book fascinating to me is the fact that it's a case study of entrepreneurship in America in the late 1800s.

The project at hand was the World's Fair and the man behind it was Daniel Burnham. Burnham was a successful Chicago-based architect when his firm was selected to design and manage what most thought was an impossible undertaking: build a World's Fair that makes America (and Chicago in particular) proud. Expectations were very high given the astounding success of the World's Fair in Paris a few years earlier at which the Eiffel Tower was unveiled.

Burnham was not a man with small vision. He was known for this frequent admonition:

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.

Burnham made no little plans indeed. He built the Montauk–the first skyscraper ever.

Once built, the Montauk was so novel, so tall, it defied description by conventional means.

He was one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs of his time and this book is about how he managed to take on something so ambitious, so impossible, and made it a reality.

Burnham had to deal with government bureaucracy, inflated egos, unexpected setbacks, budgetary issues, amongst other things. Sounds familiar?

The Burnham story is a testament to the American innovative spirit. It's also an inspiration to all entrepreneurs and those who "choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible."

Are you one of those lucky few? Find out if you got what it takes. Read this book.

Kindle 3 by Amazon

Kindle 3 by Amazon

The iPad Made a Kindle Believer Out of Me
My Amazon Review

 

I resisted buying a Kindle for the longest time, and that’s saying something coming from me being an avid reader and a gadget feigned all in the same measure. My argument was that nothing would ever replace the physical book (I still do believe in that argument, somewhat,) and that I’d only try an eBook reader that simulates the book look’N’feel to a T. So I passed on all the eBook readers that came out after until the iPad came out.

I was excited to try out the iBook on the iPad. I knew the backlit screen was going to be an issue for long reading sessions, but again I wasn’t planning spending any extended periods of time reading on my iPad or giving up the physical book for any eBook reader anytime soon. In retrospect, I think what I was excited about was the colored book cover, the in-app store access and the cool page turn effect, all of which are superficial and novel. I downloaded a couple of books onto the iBook but never really got to reading them in their entirety and soon thereafter I forgot about the app (or the books) even existed.

It wasn’t until the Chairman of my company asked me to read a few business books that I revisited the iPad book solutions. By that time, Amazon had released the Kindle app and platform, which entailed that any book I purchased through that platform would be available on any device (including the Kindle device itself) that Amazon supported. Right off the bat, any book I’d buy would be available on my iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It was a no-brainer, and I downloaded the books onto the Kindle app and speed-read them over the weekend. 

Meanwhile, I was still buying hardcover books. I had no problem speed-reading through a business book to get the gist of the argument, but a novel is something I like to savor, and I just couldn’t savor a novel reading it on my backlit iPad screen. I kept buying business books through the Kindle app and fictions books in hardcover.

Everything changed a week ago when I was reading The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey on the Kindle app on my iPad that I realized that my eyes started to hurt. I downloaded the eBook version of this book because I didn’t want to handle the beautiful leather-bound edition I have sitting on my bookshelf. I looked at the clock and evidently I’ve been reading the book on that backlit screen for over 4 hours straight!

The eyestrain was so bad, I quit the Kindle app and launched the Amazon app and ordered the Kindle 3 right there and then. It wasn’t a very hard decision because the price was right and all the books I have previously purchased through the Kindle app on my iPad would still be available to me. It was a no-brainer, frankly.

My Kindle arrived the next day and I picked up reading Frey’s book where I left off. That afternoon, I was done reading it and already onto my next one. I immediately felt comfortable with the device. The text, contrast and the size of it were just perfect. I was reading on the beach over the weekend and I didn’t have to deal with glare. I loved it.

Although I will continue buying hardcover books, I will now only buy them of books I read and like on my Kindle first. I think I’ll end up spending less money that way. I will also keep my iPad for everything else I do online (e.g. Twitter, email, Angry Birds, Words with Friends, …etc)

Book lovers wanting to take the leap but uncertain, I can tell you this: after a couple of hours, you won’t even know you’re reading an ebook. This eInk technology is amazing! The Kindle, to me, has one purpose and one purpose only: reading books. It’s a perfect instrument that facilitates that function of which many of us are very fond. Don’t expect it to be a “tablet” because it’s not. If you want a tablet, get the iPad, which I also love.

I’m so happy I finally made the leap and got my Kindle. The skeptic in me is now a believer and I have my iPad to thank for that.