Two Books On World War II

2 books

I don’t know why, but in the past month I read (again) two books that tell personal stories during World War II / holocaust.

I didn’t plan it. But like most things in life, while we are making plans, things happen.

In retrospective, it was a powerful, sad and interesting time. You can hear a lot of stories about WW2 and the holocaust but there are some that hit you right in your heart.

As the say, “Long story short”, here are the two books I recommend.

The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah is so talented. She does a great job in capturing an intimate part of history from a unique perspective: the women’s war. It is a combination of two stories or two sisters. They are separated on many levels: years, experience, ideals and mostly character. Each one is paving her own path toward survival in German-occupied France. It’s a beautiful, sad story that shows the real strong gender – female.


Beneath a Scarlet Sky

It’s a real personal story of Pino Lella, a young Italian teenager who wants to ski and have fun. Up to here it’s just like any teenager who lives near the amazing mountains in north of Italy. But, there is a war and he started it by joining the underground where he helped Jews escape over the Alps to Switzerland. From one step to another he become the personal driver of Hans Layers who reported to Hitler. The story tells how is manage to spy for the allies and his relationships with Hans, Anna (his love) and his family. During the book, you keep thinking it can’t be a real story. But, you keep realizing, it is all happen in Europe only 60 years ago.



How Nike Became Nike

I just finished this book and really enjoyed it.

Any entrepreneur and/or a runner should read it. Such an amazing story of a startup (they didn’t have this term back in 1962) that fight against the giants (e.g. Adidas, US customs, Tiger etc’) and succeed to win. Big time.

It’s told by Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight and he does a great job to describe the inside story of the company. From the early days as a one man show startup and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic and profitable brands.

In 1962, fresh out of Stanford business school, Phil Knight traveled the world. When he visited Japan he was able to get a deal with Tiger (well known brand at the time) and with fifty dollars from his father he created a company “Blue Ribbon Sports“. They had many issues and problems (like any startup) but in the end, Nike’s annual sales last year top $30 billion. The story between these two extremes is fascinating.

It’s a candid and humble memoir. Knight details the relationships he had with the first employees and the (many) risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream. He is a real problem solver and keep learning on the go but the most impressive quality I learn about him is the relationships he was able to make (with very few words) with athletes, employees and friends.

Enjoy it!
…And go for a run.


Great Books To Start The Year

Few of the best books I’ve read in the past and you might enjoy. There are in no special order, but if you love good stories start with the first and the last.


One of the best books I read in a long time. It’s an interesting story about the humankind in the last ~70,000 years and Harari does it so well, you won’t feel it’s a history book.

I like the 2nd book (Homo Deus) as well and found more things in it that I would like to discuss about with the author. I just need to find the right time and place. Continue reading

Business, life

Einstein: His Life and Universe

I just finished to read this book and there are few aspects I really enjoyed.

It was a long book that the master of biographies (Walter Isaacson) wrote based on the newly released personal letters of Albert Einstein.

I liked to learn about Einstein personality and his private life as well as his academic achievements. His imaginative and ‘thinking out of the box’ approaches enable him to create a revolution. To me, the amazing part, is that he only used his mind. No experiments or ‘tools’ that will guide him.

The book explores how an imaginative patent clerk came with theories that changed the way we understand the universe. We get a description of a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate. I learned that unlike the pop culture that claimed he was an awful student, he was a good one. He wasn’t strong in french but in math and physics, he was a good student who got high scores.

One of the thing that I found as a surprise, was the fact that he knew that he is going to win the Nobel prize. He also promised his first wife the money from the prize. Continue reading