The Best Books Read in 2015 by Bill Gates

The Road to Character
by David Brooks
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Thing Explainer
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon? Randall Munroe is here to help. In Thing Explainer, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, "ten hundred") most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including: food-heating radio boxes (microwaves) tall roads (bridges) computer buildings (datacenters) the shared space house (the International Space Station) the other worlds around the sun (the solar system) the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates) the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table) planes with turning wings (helicopters) boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers) the bags of stuff inside you (cells) How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button? In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and so many more. Funny, interesting, and always understandable, this book is for anyone--age 5 to 105--who has ever wondered how things work, and why.
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Being Nixon
by Evan Thomas
The "New York Times" bestselling author of "Ike s Bluff "and" Sea of Thunder" brings new life to one of American history s most infamous, paradoxical, and enigmatic politicians: Richard Nixon. Dispensing with myths to achieve an intimate and evenhanded look at the actual man, Evan Thomas delivers the best single-volume biography of Nixon to date, a radical, unique portrait of a complicated figure who was both determinedly optimistic and tragically flawed. What drove a painfully shy outcast in elite Washington society a man so self-conscious he refused to make eye contact during meetings to pursue power and public office? How did a president so attuned to the American political id that he won reelection in a historic landslide lack the self-awareness to recognize the gaping character flaws that would drive him from office and forever taint his legacy? In "Being Nixon, " Evan Thomas peels away the layers of the complex, confounding figure who became America s thirty-seventh president. The son of devout Quakers, Richard Nixon (not unlike his rival John F. Kennedy) grew up in the shadow of an older, favored brother and thrived on conflict and opposition. Through high school and college, in the navy and in politics, he was constantly leading crusades and fighting off enemies real and imagined. As maudlin as he was Machiavellian, Nixon possessed the plainspoken eloquence to reduce American television audiences to tears with his career-saving Checkers speech; meanwhile, his darker half hatched schemes designed to take down his political foes, earning him the notorious nickname Tricky Dick. Drawing on a wide range of historical accounts, Thomas reveals the contradictions of a leader whose vision and foresight led him to achieve detente with the Soviet Union and reestablish relations with communist China, but whose underhanded political tactics tainted his reputation long before the Watergate scandal. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Party and its silent majority of disaffected whites and conservative ex-Dixiecrats, Nixon was also deemed a liberal in some quarters for his efforts to desegregate Southern schools, create the Environmental Protection Agency, and end the draft. A deeply insightful character study as well as a brilliant political biography, "Being Nixon" offers a surprising look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness a balanced portrait of a president too often reduced to caricature. Advance praise for" Being Nixon" The great Evan Thomas has brought us a measured, concise, and important American biography. Now that the shouting and tumult have faded and Richard Nixon moves from our contemporary politics toward history, Thomas offers wise insights, based on many new sources, achieving what might have seemed impossible: He has rendered a new Nixon. Michael Beschloss, author of "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789 1989" Richard Nixon is one of the most complex and fascinating characters in American history. In this poignant, revealing, and compellingly readable book, Evan Thomas makes him human. Jay Winik, author of "April 1865 and The Great Upheaval" What was it really like to be Richard Nixon? Evan Thomas tackles this fascinating question by peeling back the layers of a man driven by a poignant mix of optimism and fear. The result is both insightful history and an astonishingly compelling psychological portrait of an anxious introvert who struggled to be a transformative statesman. Walter Isaacson, author of" Steve Jobs""
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Sustainable Materials with Both Eyes Open
by Julian M. Allwood
This is a follow-up book to the author's Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, which had a large influence on both government policy and public opinion of how we should plan our energy for the future. This book faces up to the impacts of making materials in the 21st century. We are already making materials well, but demand keeps growing and we need to plan for a sustainable material future. The steel and aluminium industries alone account for nearly 30 per cent of global emissions, and demand is rising. The world target is to reduce industry's carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. However, projections are that world demand for materials will double by 2050, so to meet our emissions target, we have to achieve a 4-fold reduction in emissions per unit of material used: industry will have to make huge changes, not just to the processes involved, but to the entire product life-cycle. This book presents a vision of change for how future generations can still use steel, cement, plastics etc., but with less impact on the environment. First it is a wake-up call, then it is a solutions manual. The solutions presented here are ahead of the game now. By providing an evidence-based vision of change, this book can play a significant role in influencing our energy future.
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Eradication
by Nancy Leys Stepan
The dream of a world completely free of disease may seem utopian. Yet eradication, used in its modern sense to mean the reduction of a disease to zero by means of purposeful public health interventions, has been pursued repeatedly. Campaigns against yellow fever, malaria, smallpox, and polio are among the largest, most costly programmes ever undertaken in international public health. Only one so far has been successful - against smallpox in 1980, though eradication campaigns against polio and Guinea Worm Disease are ongoing. Are such programmes, then, worthwhile? Does setting an absolute goal help focus efforts in the health field; or does such a project lead almost inevitably to disappointment? This book surveys the history of eradication, covering all the major eradication campaigns and bringing the story up to date. It bases its narrative on the life and times of an arch-eradicationist, Dr Fred Lowe Soper (1893-1977). Known for his forceful style in public health, and his single-minded dedication to eradication, Soper was at the centre of all the campaigns and controversies surrounding eradication in his lifetime. Eradication is, of course, only one approach to improving people's health. Debates between proponents of Primary Health Care approaches to ill-health versus the eradicationists' approach have often been intense. Nancy Leys Stepan, well-known for her authoritative books in the history of medicine, suggests that today the two approaches may be complementary, rather than incompatible. Eradication is aimed at the general reader interested in the urgent problems of health and disease around the world, as well as specialists in the field.
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Mindset
by Carol S. Dweck
Reveals how established attitudes affect all aspects of one's life, explains the differences between fixed and growth mindsets, and stresses the need to be open to change in order to achieve fulfillment and success.
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