Reviews of Biographies & Etc.


"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Albert Einstein




How Ronald Reagan Changed my Life by Peter Robinson, Harper Collins Publisher, 2003


Peter Robinson was a young impressionable college graduate who after four years at Dartmouth and two years at Oxford was ready to start his career.  But what was he educated to do?  By almost pure luck he obtained an interview with the Reagan White House speechwriters who were looking to fill a vacancy in vice president Bush's office.  He landed the job and eventually joined President Reagan's speechwriters.  During the six years he worked at the White House he learned ten important lessons about life from the president.  By reading this book we can benefit and learn these lessons as well.  No one could ever really know the true Ronald Reagan, but since it is a speechwriter's job to think like his boss and put into words his very thoughts the author might get as close as anyone other than Nancy Reagan.  Read along as you find how the author's life changed as he learned from the great communicator.   The pages reveal some fascinating glimpses of Reagan.  How he looked to God for guidance and Nancy for support.  Peter Robinson has done a masterful job painting a portrait which otherwise most of us could never see and in the process took with him lessons to last a lifetime.


Sandy Koufax "A Lefty's Legacy"  by Jane Leavy, Harper Collins, Publishers, 2002


It was almost thirty nine years ago, September 9, 1965 at 9:46PM, Sandy Koufax had pitched a perfect game.  It was his fourth no-hit, no-run game.   Although I know it's impossible, but I just watched the game in the rocking chair in my office.  A rerun on TV, no.  I just saw it in the pages of this book.  I heard Vin Scully call the game, felt the tension in the Dodger dugout, and felt the pain of Bob Hendley, the Cubs pitcher, who threw a one hitter against the Dodgers and lost 1 - 0.  I have never before experienced writing that could make events seem so real.   How did the  author do it?  I don't have a clue.  This a saga of one of baseball's greats and maybe the games  least understood player.  Jane Leavy dispels the many mistruths and allows us to meet and get to know the real Sandy Koufax.  Bob Hendley when asked about his loss to Sandy said "It's no disgrace to get beat by class".  Oh by the way I couldn't find my ticket stub to that perfect game, but I know I was  in the Dodger Stadium on that September evening.



Softwar " An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle"  by Matthew Symonds, Simon & Shuster, 2003


This is the documentary of a very intense and competitive  individual and the software company he founded in 1977.  The author spent many months with Larry and numerous executives, former employees, customers and even competitors to bring life to this story.  The book is very well written and at times makes you believe that Larry is arrogant, reckless and aloof and you find that you are pulling against him.  At other periods you are convinced he is a brilliant tactician and visionary who has  changed the software world forever and as a result earned every  dime of his vast wealth. Symonds has woven a complex tapestry that includes images of Larry's private life, his quest for immortality, his longing to be loved and admired, and  his drive to win America's Cup.  Also woven in the fabric are the successes and failures of Oracle.  It is impossible to distinguish which threads and patterns represent Larry's life and those that portray Oracle. Alas! I just realized that you can't see where one pattern ends and the other begins.  The author has etched an image such that there is no Oracle without Larry, but more importantly no Larry Ellison with Oracle.  A man and his machine one in the same.  Now that I have discovered Symonds' secret and let you in on it you can read this adventure and enjoy this journey.     


Everyone Else Must Fail by Karen Southwick, Crown Business, 2003

"The Unvarnished Truth About Oracle and Larry Ellison"

   What image do you reach when you observe a organization from the outside?  When your source of information is from former employees who left the company under less than favorable circumstances and customers who were less than satisfied.  I conclude your image is less than accurate and biased.  I believe that this is the result that the author has sketched in this book of Oracle and Ellison.  This is third account of Oracle and it's founder Larry Ellison that I have read.  It is the most negative and biased of the three.  I am not suggesting that the perspective presented by the author is totally false and not worth hearing, but needs to be balanced if you want a true image of the company.  The author predicts the eventual demise of Oracle because Ellison won't let anyone grow into a position where they could be his successor. Once they get close he finds a way to force them from the organization.  Time will tell if she has it figured out.  My recommendation is that if you want a complete picture of Oracle and Ellison you must not rely wholly on this source.