Executive Times

Volume 9, Issue 12

December 2007


 2007 Hopkins and Company, LLC

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Thanks to revenue from Executive Times subscriptions, buyers of books through our amazon.com links, and clients of Hopkins & Company, we’ve continued our annual practice of making a donation to a not-for-profit organization as a special holiday thanks to our clients and friends. This year’s donation was made to Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that works to build mutual respect and pluralism among young people from different religious traditions by empowering them to work together to serve others. If you’d like to join us in supporting this fine organization, you can send your contribution to:

Interfaith Youth Core

1111 N Wells St., Ste. 501 Chicago, IL 60610

You can check out this organization on www.guidestar.org. Guidestar is a national database of nonprofit organizations. You can also visit IFYC’s website at www.ifyc.org.  IFYC’s executive director is Eboo Patel, whose book, Acts of Faith, is reviewed in this issue on page 6 and is included in our Best Books of 2007 list.



This month we present our annual book issue, which many readers use to purchase holiday gifts through our online links to amazon.com. (Another gift idea is a subscription to Executive Times.) We read, reviewed and listed a total of 180 books in Executive Times during 2007, including recent reviews beginning on page 5. Starting on page 2, we recap the best books we read this year. These books, plus 52 others we read but did not review, close out our 2007 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2007books.html. There were only eight books that we felt a little guilty for not reading in 2007, and those are listed at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2007 Shelf of Reproach.html. We gave up entirely on 205 books this year for one reason or another and feel not a twinge of guilt. All of them are at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2007 Shelf of Ennui.html. We’ve filled our 2008 bookshelf with 160 books, including 22 added in November to the Shelf of Possibility, and 15 that have been read, but not yet reviewed. All are at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2008books.html. You can also check out all the books we’ve ever listed at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/All Books.html.


Thanks for being an Executive Times reader. Happy Holidays!


Best Books of 2007

Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


12:The Elements of Great Managing

Wagner, Rodd and James K. Harter


Tangible. The Gallup Organization folks are back with ten times the data supporting the 12 elements that their research shows make the most difference when it comes to managerial success. Read it now. 


Christine Falls

Black, Benjamin


Quirke. Under a pseudonym, John Banville debuts in the mystery genre with a novel replete with complex characters, well-paced plot, lyrical prose, and realistic dialogue. Perhaps a series featuring protagonist Quirke, a pathologist. 


Five Skies

Carlson, Ron


Grief. Finely written novel about the ways in which three men drawn together to work on a project are processing some form of grief, developing trust, and dealing with the consequences of loyalty.


The Yiddish Policeman’s Union

Chabon, Michael


Imagination. Fine writing from master storyteller, this time creating an imaginary community in Alaska where Jewish refugees have been living since after World War II, and which now reverts back to American rule.


Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Chandrasekaran, Rajiv


Turf. Former Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post tells the story of incompetence, turf battles, and the dominance of idealogues in Iraq under Paul Bremer’s leadership of the Coalition Provisional Authority.


Napoleon’s Pyramids

Dietrich, William


Adventure. Packed with historical accuracy of Napoleon’s campaign to Egypt, this is a fine historical novel packed with action and entertaining adventure, not meant to be taken so seriously as to be boring.


The Maytrees

Dillard, Annie


Abiding. Can love last? Fine novelist presents decades of relationships, full of love and longing, closeness and distance. Poetic language and lingering imagery provide much reading pleasure.


Circling My Mother

Gordon, Mary


Release. Finely written memoir and biography uses various points of view to gain understanding about the author’s mother, a complex woman who above all wanted to be released from her time and place.


Practical Negotiating 

Gosselin, Thomas B.


Systematic. A workshop on negotiation in print form, field tested by the author through decades of experience. Change your thinking and actions on negotiating after reading this useful book.


The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Hamid, Mohsin


Janissary. Finely written novel presented as a monologue from a young Pakistani, educated at Princeton, and working in New York at 9/11, caught between two worlds, but loyal to only one, like the janissaries.


North River

Hamill, Pete


Home. Finely written historical novel, set in New York during the Depression, in which a doctor faces his demons, finds love and makes a home for others during challenging times.


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Heath, Chip and Dan Heath


Success. Great presentation of why some ideas are conveyed and remembered while others are forgotten.


A Thousand Splendid Sons

Hosseini, Khaled


Resilience. Powerful story of recent decades of the life of two women in Afghanistan, both of whom are abused and loved, and who struggle to survive.



Just, Ward


Disquiet. After an American ex-pat’s French wife is killed by terrorists near their home in a Pyrenees village, he grieves, feels responsible, and considers vengeance or the best friend of the elderly: forgetfulness.


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Kingsolver, Barbara and Camille and Steven Hopp


Sustainable. Story of how a family grew, raised or acquired almost all of its food from local farmers for a year, and the lessons for all about sustainable agriculture, eating foods in season and the energy costs of food production and distribution.



Lively, Penelope


Accidents. Fine prose with deep and rich multigenerational characters who explore what life is all about, and conclude that it’s mostly accidental, with one thing leading to another.


On Chesil Beach

McEwan, Ian


Silence. Finely written novel, set in 1963 on the honeymoon of two innocent virgins, whose unspoken fears about sex lead to the consequences of saying nothing when words are needed, and the inability to take back the wrong words expressed.


Deep Economy

McKibben, Bill


Changes. Our economy built on “more” is leading to environment crises, so author proposes ways to promote sustainability, an economy built on “better.”


The New American Workplace

O’Toole, James


Data. Authors update landmark 1972 study of work in America with current data and fact-based conclusions delivered clearly in an organized and systematic way.


Troublesome Young Men

Olson, Lynne


Courage. Finely written history about thirty young members of Parliament who rebelled against their party over appeasement with Germany, and how they brought Churchill to power. Also tells what happened to them afterwards.


Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

Patel, Eboo


Pluralism. Inspriring book by founder of Interfaith Youth Core tells about bringing together youth of different religious background to talk, work together in service, and learn shared values and tolerance through their actions.


From the Bottom Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers

Pregracke, Chad and Jeff Barrow


Mission. Inspiring and exciting story of how a teenager decided to clean up the garbage in the Mississippi River, and did it. Throw out Who Moved My Cheese and have your team read this tale of hard work, accountability, teamwork, and persistence.


The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas


Unknowns. Quirky and thoughtful book riffs on the notion that the highly improbable does happen, is unpredictable, and has a huge impact, all of which we find reason to explain and ignore.


The Go Point

Useem, Michael


Templates. Wharton professor presents compelling stories of decisions made, templates for handling decisions, and principles and illustration, combine to make this a practical guide for any reader interested in learning how to make better decisions.


Legacy of Ashes

Weiner, Tim


Bunglers. Author  concludes that CIA has been packed with bunglers from the beginning to the present, spending huge amounts of money and producing little timely and useful intelligence. You’ll shake your head and get angry.



Latest Books Read and Reviewed:

 (Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers to order copies directly from amazon.com.  When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com.  Click on the title to read the review or visit our 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html).


Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Alda, Alan


Questions. Using the structure of his speeches to various audiences, Alda leads readers to ask and answer for ourselves life’s tough questions.


Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower

Brzezinski, Zbigniew


Incisive. Former National Security Advisor describes how Clinton and both Bushes squandered foreign policy opportunities following the end of the Cold War and offers a prescription for getting the right policy, warning that we won’t get a third chance.



Cook, Robin


Specialty. Cook reprises medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton, centers the action on the spread of infections among specialty hospitals, and adds a dose of corporate corruption.


Power Play

Finder, Joseph


Offsite. No matter how bad your last offsite meeting was, the executives of Hammond Aerospace had a worse time in this improbable and entertaining novel. 


The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?

Goldman, Francisco


Darkness. Non-fictional detailed account of the carefully orchestrated murder of Guatemalan Bishop Juan Girardi by the army following his 1,400 page report on their massacre of 200,000 citizens over thirty years.


The Conscience of a Liberal

Krugman, Paul


Democracy. Economist and New York Times columnist calls for a new New Deal that will made America stronger by bringing our actions closer to our democratic ideals.


Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

Lam, Vincent


Doctor. Debut short story collection presents four medical students in twelve connected stories. Good writing beyond the “doctors are people too” motif.


The Castle in the Forest

Mailer, Norman


Evil. Brilliant or clumsy novel (reader’s choice) presents the childhood of Adolf Hitler, as narrated by a minor devil, showing how evil began in the formative years.


Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

Patel, Eboo


Pluralism. Inspiring book by founder of Interfaith Youth Core tells about bringing together youth of different religious backgrounds to talk, work together in service, and learn shared values and tolerance through their actions.


Exit Ghost

Roth, Philip


Finale. The ninth and final Nathan Zuckerman novel brings the writer to a post-9/11 Manhattan, and connections with his past. Neither the best nor worst Roth novel.


The Careful Use of Compliments

Smith, Alexander McCall


Mother. Prolific author presents another Dalhousie novel in which her child is now three months old and she faces a challenge for leadership of the Review of Applied Ethics. Continued character development and insights.


My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir

Thomas, Clarence


Bitter. Unusual memoir covers not only the high points of life, but also the bitterness from so often not fitting in, anger, drinking problems, and broken relationships.


Cheating at Canasta

Trevor, William


Structure. Master short story writer showcases his talent in this collection of twelve stories, each of which contains fine language, interesting and developed characters and tight construction.


Legacy of Ashes

Weiner, Tim


Bunglers. Author concludes that CIA has been packed with bunglers from the beginning to the present, spending huge amounts of money and producing little timely and useful intelligence. You’ll shake your head and get angry.


Summer Reading

Wolitzer, Hilma


Shallow. Novel’s action centers around a summer reading group in the Hamptons and a half-dozen characters. Alternating narrators provide some interest, but empathy for characters never develops.



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