Napoleon: A Life

Napoleon rewrote the rules of war in 19th century Europe, conquering pretty much everything in his path. The book explains how this (essentially middle-class, non-french) guy from Corsica became Emperor of France. And then he stopped following his own rules and lost it all… (View on Amazon)

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

I had never heard of Robert Moses before this book. It is spectacularly well researched, detailed to the max. After the first chapter, I was hooked on the story. This guy RAN New York through the administrations of multiple mayors, governors and presidents. He’s single-handedly responsible for almost all of the state parks, parks, and road networks in the region. And he’s a real asshole. (View on Amazon)

The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal

After reading about how Kim Philby played the UK and US for so long in the Soviet Union’s favor, I was happy to learn the story of a dramatic spy operation going the other direction. This is the story of the most impactful spy that the US had against the Soviet Union, and possibly the first inside Moscow (right under the KGB’s noses). The book dives into spycraft, which is really interesting. (View on Amazon)

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Kim Philby was an upper-class English guy who went to the “right” prep school and college, then joined the intelligence service during WW2. He rose to become the head of counterintelligence at MI6, focused specifically on the Soviet Union. Then, in 1963, he defected to the Soviet Union — and it turns out he was working for them the entire time. Almost all intelligence operations during the 40s and 50s against the Soviet Union failed because of his tip-offs. A remarkable story. (View on Amazon)