David Friedberg Book Recommendations
For many reasons, The Production Board founder David Friedberg and books simply go hand in hand, whether we’re talking his favorite business classics or enlightening non-fiction gems.
Thus, in order to get to the bottom of what inspired a most capable individual to the heights of financial prosperity, we’ve compiled this list of 12 inspirational books David Friedberg has read himself and would certainly recommend to others as well.
Titan by Ron Chernow
From the acclaimed, award-winning author of Alexander Hamilton, here is the essential, endlessly engrossing biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – the Jekyll-and-Hyde of American capitalism. In the course of his nearly 98 years, Rockefeller was known as both a rapacious robber baron, whose Standard Oil Company rode roughshod over an industry, and a philanthropist who donated money lavishly to universities and medical centers. He was the terror of his competitors, the bogeyman of reformers, the delight of caricaturists – and an utter enigma.
Drawing on unprecedented access to Rockefeller’s private papers, Chernow reconstructs his subjects’ troubled origins (his father was a swindler and a bigamist) and his single-minded pursuit of wealth. But he also uncovers the profound religiosity that drove him “to give all I could,” his devotion to his father, and the wry sense of humor that made him the country’s most colorful codger. Titan is a magnificent biography – balanced, revelatory, elegantly written.
Source: During an episode of the All-In Podcast, Friedberg noted that “just hearing the story of the railroads and standard oil and what took place in this country, it’s incredible.”
American Prison by Shane Bauer
In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones.
Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he noted that “[the author] goes undercover and works in a penitentiary in Louisiana.”
The Changing World Order by Ray Dalio
A few years ago, Ray Dalio noticed a confluence of political and economic conditions he hadn’t encountered before. They included huge debts and zero or near-zero interest rates that led to massive printing of money in the world’s three major reserve currencies; big political and social conflicts within countries, especially the US, due to the largest wealth, political, and values disparities in more than 100 years; and the rising of a world power (China) to challenge the existing world power (US) and the existing world order.
The last time that this confluence occurred was between 1930 and 1945. This realization sent Dalio on a search for the repeating patterns and cause/effect relationships underlying all major changes in wealth and power over the last 500 years.
In this remarkable and timely addition to his Principles series, Dalio brings readers along for his study of the major empires – including the Dutch, the British, and the American – putting into perspective the “Big Cycle” that has driven the successes and failures of all the world’s major countries throughout history. He reveals the timeless and universal forces behind these shifts and uses them to look into the future, offering practical principles for positioning oneself for what’s ahead.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he called this his “#1, #2, and #3 book recommendations of 2021.”
Lifespan by David Sinclair
This eye-opening and provocative work takes us to the front lines of research that is pushing the boundaries on our perceived scientific limitations, revealing incredible breakthroughs – many from Dr. David Sinclair’s own lab at Harvard – that demonstrate how we can slow down, or even reverse, aging.
The key is activating newly discovered vitality genes, the descendants of an ancient genetic survival circuit that is both the cause of aging and the key to reversing it. Recent experiments in genetic reprogramming suggest that in the near future we may not just be able to feel younger, but actually become younger.
Through a page-turning narrative, Dr. Sinclair invites you into the process of scientific discovery and reveals the emerging technologies and simple lifestyle changes – such as intermittent fasting, cold exposure, exercising with the right intensity, and eating less meat – that have been shown to help us live younger and healthier for longer.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he noted that it “highlights a lot of [the author’s] research and findings.”
The Grid by Gretchen Bakke
America’s electrical grid, an engineering triumph of the twentieth century, is turning out to be a poor fit for the present. It’s not just that the grid has grown old and is now in dire need of basic repair. Today, as we invest great hope in new energy sources – solar, wind, and other alternatives – the grid is what stands most firmly in the way of a brighter energy future. If we hope to realize this future, we need to reimagine the grid according to twenty-first-century values.
It’s a project which forces visionaries to work with bureaucrats, legislators with storm-flattened communities, moneymen with hippies, and the left with the right. And though it might not yet be obvious, this revolution is already well underway.
Cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke unveils the many facets of America’s energy infrastructure, its most dynamic moments and its most stable ones, and its essential role in personal and national life. The grid, she argues, is an essentially American artifact, one which developed with us: a product of bold expansion, the occasional foolhardy vision, some genius technologies, and constant improvisation.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he called this “an interesting book about how the grid operates.”
Out of Many, One by George W. Bush
The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions today, as it has throughout much of American history. But what gets lost in the debates about policy are the stories of immigrants themselves, the people who are drawn to America by its promise of economic opportunity and political and religious freedom – and who strengthen our nation in countless ways.
Out of Many, One brings together forty-three full-color portraits of men and women who have immigrated to the United States, alongside stirring stories of the unique ways all of them are pursuing the American Dream.
Featuring men and women from thirty-five countries and nearly every region of the world, the book shows how hard work, strong values, dreams, and determination know no borders or boundaries and how immigrants embody values that are often viewed as distinctly American: optimism and gratitude, a willingness to strive and to risk, a deep sense of patriotism, and a spirit of self-reliance that runs deep in our immigrant heritage.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he called this “great” and “highly recommended” it.
The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke
The Light of Other Days tells the tale of what happens when a brilliant, driven industrialist harnesses the cutting edge of quantum physics to enable people everywhere, at trivial cost, to see one another at all times: around every corner, through every wall, into everyone’s most private, hidden, and even intimate moments. It amounts to the sudden and complete abolition of human privacy – forever.
Then, as society reels, the same technology proves able to look backwards in time as well. Nothing can prepare us for what this means. It is a fundamental change in the terms of the human condition.
Source: In an episode of the All-In Podcast, David Friedberg calls this one of his “favorite” sci-fi books.
Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer
For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and in the darkest shadows of science. Yet these creatures are among the world’s most successful and sophisticated organisms. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer deftly balances the scientific and the disgusting as he takes readers on a fantastic voyage.
Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the fetid parasite haven of southern Sudan, Zimmer graphically brings to life how parasites can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead. This thorough, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe.
Source: “If you think viruses infecting human bodies is bad, there are some remarkable biological parasites with extraordinarily complex effects on their hosts,” Friedberg tweeted in 2020. “Parasite Rex by Zimmer is a fascinating read.”
Every Life is on Fire by Jeremy England
For centuries, the scientific question of life’s origins has confounded us. But in Every Life Is on Fire, physicist Jeremy England argues that the answer has been under our noses the whole time, deep within the laws of thermodynamics. England explains how, counterintuitively, the very same forces that tend to tear things apart assembled the first living systems.
But how life began isn’t just a scientific question. We ask it because we want to know what it really means to be alive. So England, an ordained rabbi, uses his theory to examine how, if at all, science helps us find purpose in a vast and mysterious universe.
In the tradition of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, this gem is a profound testament to how something can come from nothing.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he called this “so esoteric and difficult.”
The Wizard of Menlo Park by Randall E. Stross
At the height of his fame, Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as “the Napoleon of invention” and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light and the first motion picture cameras, Edison’s name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels.
But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edison’s greatest invention may have been his own celebrity. Edison was certainly a technical genius, but Stross excavates the man from layers of myth-making and separates his true achievements from his almost equally colossal failures. How much credit should Edison receive for the various inventions that have popularly been attributed to him – and how many of them resulted from both the inspiration and the perspiration of his rivals and even his own assistants?
This bold reassessment of Edison’s life and career answers this and many other important questions while telling the story of how he came upon his most influential inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying to conjure similar success.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he called this “a good biography of Edison.”
The Alchemy of Air by Thomas Hager
At the dawn of the twentieth century, humanity was facing global disaster: Mass starvation was about to become a reality. A call went out to the world’s scientists to find a solution.
This is the story of the two men who found it: brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, and saved millions of lives.
But their epochal triumph came at a price we are still paying. The Haber-Bosch process was also used to make the gunpowder and explosives that killed millions during the two world wars. Both men were vilified during their lives; both, disillusioned and disgraced, died tragically.
The Alchemy of Air is the extraordinary, previously untold story of a discovery that changed the way we grow food and the way we make war – and that promises to continue shaping our lives in fundamental and dramatic ways.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he called this a “great” read.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
When Mario Puzo’s blockbuster saga, The Godfather, was first published in 1969, critics hailed it as one of the greatest novels of our time, and “big, turbulent, highly entertaining.” Since then, The Godfather has gone on to become a part of America’s national culture, as well as a trilogy of landmark motion pictures.
From the lavish opening scene where Don Corleone entertains guests and conducts business at his daughter’s wedding…to his son, Michael, who takes his father’s place to fight for his family…to the bloody climax where all family business is finished, The Godfather is an epic story of family, loyalty, and how “men of honor” live in their own world, and die by their own laws.
Source: One of the select books David Friedberg has mentioned while on the All-In Podcast, he noted that it is “very graphic and interesting. But if you’ve seen the movie, I don’t think you get much more from [this book].”
If you enjoyed this guide to books David Friedberg recommends, be sure to check out our list of 10 Inspirational Books David Sacks Recommends Reading!