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  • Writer's pictureIshfaaq Peerally

Top 5 Books I Read in 2021

For the third year in a row, I failed to meet my goal of reading 50 books in a year with only 28 books, and once again, like last year, I did not read any fiction book, unfortunately.

My goal for 2022 is to read at least 50 books, including fiction books too.

5. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (Jon Meacham)

In 2021, I read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (my favorite Founding Father) but I did not include it on this list as I believe that if one wants to learn about Benjamin Franklin, the biography by Walter Isaacson is a much better option. My second favorite Founding Father is Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the first Secretary of State, and the third President of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at the age of 33 and became president at age 57. What did he do in the 24 years in between? The years before his public life and the years after his public life? He was a scientist, a philosopher, a diplomat, an architect, a lawyer, and led a fascinating and interesting life worth reading about.

4. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Niall Ferguson)

One of the best books I ever read was Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. At the end of the book (published in 2007), she was still fighting for her Dutch citizenship. That's not an issue anymore since she moved to the US, became a citizen, and got married to the prominent historian, Niall Ferguson. Money is certainly one of the best, if not the best, creations of Man. Without money, we're nothing. We would be just like the other animals, roaming naked in the forest without any purpose. Niall Ferguson's book gives us a very detailed history of that wonderful creation.

3. The Art of Seduction (Robert Greene)

Last year, I put Robert Greene's 33 Strategies of War on this list, and in 2019, I put 48 Laws of Power. Going to war and rising to power do not necessitate only strategies and laws but also art and seduction. And this is exactly what this book teaches us.

2. One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon (Charles Fishman)

It cost $25 billion ($150 billion inflation-adjusted) over a 13 year period with 400 000 government employees at the peak to send 12 men on the moon. While this is an impressive feat in itself, the fact that we had to do it while inventing the technology makes it seems impossible.

One Giant Leap looks at all the facets of this otherworldly endeavor, from the political: How President Eisenhower wasn't a fan of going to the moon, how President Kennedy's death made it a reality, the science: why the lunar orbit rendezvous made sense, to the engineering: how the spacesuits were designed.

1. The Second World War (Winston Churchill)

Last year, on this list, I put volume 3 of The Years of Lyndon Johnson even though I recommended the whole series. This year, I'm not going to choose a single volume as my favorite as all were equally important and interesting.

What better way to learn about the second world war than from the ultimate insider himself. Churchill was not only a great statesman, but he was also a great writer (he won the Nobel prize in Literature in 1953). This makes these books even better. The way he describes the events of the war, from the battlefield to the cabinet meetings is worth reading.

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