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Books in 2018 - Part 3

More books read in 2018, as recommended by Steve Alexander and Yves LeMaitre.

Steve Alexander, senior vice president and CTO, Ciena 

I was standing in line at a Starbucks and was chatting with another person who asked what all these engineers were doing talking about networks of submarines. In fact, it was a nearby conference on submarine cables. The person said: “I thought that’s what satellites were for”.

I wanted to find a book I could point people to who think that satellites carry most of the international traffic when, in fact, it is the fibre-optic submarine cables that carry the vast majority of the world’s communications. I came up with The Undersea Network by Nicole Starosielski.

Our industry does such a good job at this that most people don’t even know such networks exist. It is like air; it is there and it works.

My youngest son read The Martian by Andy Weir after seeing the movie and he thought it was pretty good. I’ve always been a Sci-Fi fan but haven’t read much lately so it was nice to get back into it. 


Yves LeMaitre, chief strategy officer at Lumentum

I am afraid I am guilty of spending far too much time streaming shows and sports to my laptop. The good thing is my TV stays off. However, I did manage to read several books this year. The three I would highlight - all non-fiction - have a focus on US history. 

The first, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, is about the presidency and assassination of James Garfield intertwined with several of the scientific inventions of the times. 

Another title by Candice Millard that I recommend is The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey that details his exploration of the Amazon.

My third recommendation, The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson, tells the story of the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893 combined with a serial killer story.

Reading about what are still relatively recent events highlights how much the world has changed in the last century while people’s aspirations and desires have not.

The life stories and achievements of Theodore Roosevelt, James Garfield and Daniel Burnham, the architect of the Chicago World’s Fair, should challenge us to expect more from our leadership, whether in the political, business or social arenas. We have become complacent in accepting mediocrity and lowering our standards. 

Reading these stories should remind us that true leadership exists and is a rare quality that should be appreciated and recognised.

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