Sunday, August 17, 2008

"The Blind Side", "Moneyball" & "The New New Thing" by Michael Lewis

It doesn't seem terribly frequent that you come across a non-fiction writer whose books cover a broad range of subjects... well.

Berkeley, California resident Michael Lewis shows himself to be the exception to this norm with three excellent books about the widely disparate subjects of baseball team building, technology company creating and football star blooming.

His most well-known book in the San Francisco Bay Area has to be "Moneyball" that Lewis wrote as a chronicle of Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane and his (highly successful) efforts to build a winning baseball team while spending less money than the opposition. To this end, Beane focused (and continues to focus) on trying to exploit untapped market opportunities (i.e. to draft the best college players if other teams are primarily going after only high-school athletes).

With it's roots still in Northern California, Lewis also wrote "The New New Thing" about Silicon Valley legend Jim Clark. It's an extremely interesting subject to take on as Clark is currently the only person to create 3 different companies (Netscape, Healtheon and Silicon Graphics) that each reached over $1 billion in value. Clark's former hire at Netscape, Marc Andreesen may be the closest to joining him with his past success at Netscape and Loudcloud/Opsware and current effort at Ning, but for now Clark stands alone in this "$3B club".

Lewis' most recent book goes after something entirely different, both in terms of subject and geography. "The Blind Side" is an account of current college football star lineman Michael Oher who went from a poor neighborhood in Memphis, TN to a likely first-round NFL draft pick in the Summer of 2009. Oher's is a fascinating human tale about someone with raw physical abilities and the help then provided to help him reach this current status of potential millionaire.

In addition to these excellent books, Lewis also has published a series of pieces for Slate Magazine titled "Dad Again" which chronicle various stages in the births and lives of his three young children with former MTV VJ wife, Tabitha Soren.