Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Boys in the Boat (by Daniel James Brown)

This is what you will get if you mix one part Jesse Owens, one part Cinderella Man and one part Oliver Twist. Brings the Great Depression to life, follows the gritty lives some of the young men endured during those years. It is a gem for some of us who are interested in Sports history, the origins of University sports culture in the US. Also, a unique commentary on how Sports became one of the fulcrums to attain greatness, not just for sportspeople but for an entire city. Thumbs up from my end, page turner to say the least.

Ada's Algorithm (by James Essinger)

It is a season for biographies and am glad I picked this one at EWR couple of weeks back. 

Starts off on a rather slow note. Although chronicling the history of the famous Byron title was in order, the details of debauchery committed by Lord Byron were not too central to the theme. The book sets the context by including the references to the earlier generations of British and Science Historians who may not have been too kind to Ada's contributions. Sexism being one of their flaws. 

A fleeting mention of British aristocracy and its social calendar is reminiscent of Downton Abbey. At the core of the book however, is a collection of Ada Lovelace's notes (titled Notes G) that she wrote to Charles Babbage which can singularly can be termed as first whitepaper on a proto-computer. For some of us unfortunate ones who are familiar with concepts of basic software engineering - these notes will appear as abstraction of modern definitions used for data processing and computing. 

Worth a read in the run up to holidays.