Peter Thiel
Technology entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist.
11 recommendations

Recommendations by Peter Thiel

The Black Swan
book
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Peter Thiel's Review:

The weirdest idea anyone ever had about the future is that we should expect it to look like the past — but that's what the reigning science of statistics assumes. Nassim Taleb has not been fooled; he is the single best guide to understanding uncertainty.

Peter Thiel's Review:

… the great French thinker René Girard’s classic study of Fyodor Dostoevsky …. There is no better way to think about human irrationality than to read Dostoevsky, and there is no better reader of Dostoevsky than Mr. Girard. For a fresh application of Mr. Girard’s insights into power politics, that great international theater of irrationality, try Jean-Michel Oughourlian’s “Psychopolitics,” a brief, freewheeling 2012 work by one of Mr. Girard’s closest collaborators.

Peter Thiel's Review:

… He tells how the Nazis and the Soviets drove each other to ever more murderous atrocities as they fought to dominate Eastern Europe in the 1930s and ’40s. Even as he calculates the death toll painstakingly, Mr. Snyder reminds us that the most important number is one: Each victim was an individual whose life cannot be reduced to the violence that cut it short.

Peter Thiel's Review:

.. was first published in 2011, but its message is evergreen: how scientists are directly attacking the problem of aging and death and why we should fight for life instead of accepting decay as inevitable. The goal of longer life doesn’t just mean more years at the margin; it means a healthier old age. There is nothing to fear but our own complacency.

The American Challenge
book
by Jean Jacques. Servan-Schreiber

Peter Thiel's Review:

A book that foresaw the information age. Here is a powerful quote from the book: “The signs and instruments of power are no longer armed legions or raw materials or capital… The wealth we seek does not lie in the earth or in numbers of men or in machines, but in the human spirit. And particularly in the ability of men to think and to create.

The Right Stuff
book
by Tom Wolfe

Peter Thiel's Review:

"What is it, I wondered, that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle…and wait for someone to light the fuse?" Wolfe asks that question in his classic about the test pilots who became the first astronauts. It's both a great history of the space race and a meditation on how to steel yourself to take risks.

Peter Thiel's Review:

Bacon writes of a utopian land called Bensalem where people live better lives because of science. Bacon “focuses on the duty of the state toward science, and his projections for state-sponsored research anticipate many advances in medicine and surgery, meteorology, and machinery.” Keep in mind this was written in 1627.

The Great Illusion
book
by Norman Angell, Sir Norman Angell

Peter Thiel's Review:

I’d never heard of this book before now, but as one Amazon reviewer summed it up: “(this is) a tightly reasoned and broadly historical perspective challenging the reigning view that man’s nature is inherently evil and that evil nature must dictate human relations.”

Peter Thiel's Review:

This book breaks the taboo on prophecy: We're not supposed to talk about a future that doesn't include the powerful states that rule over us today. Rees-Mogg and Davidson argue that national governments could soon become as antiquated as 19th-century empires.

Peter Thiel's Review:

I started reading this once and was mesmerized by Stephenson’s imaginative future world. If you like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, this is the book for you.

The Black Swan
book
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Peter Thiel's Review:

The weirdest idea anyone ever had about the future is that we should expect it to look like the past — but that's what the reigning science of statistics assumes. Nassim Taleb has not been fooled; he is the single best guide to understanding uncertainty.

Peter Thiel's Review:

… the great French thinker René Girard’s classic study of Fyodor Dostoevsky …. There is no better way to think about human irrationality than to read Dostoevsky, and there is no better reader of Dostoevsky than Mr. Girard. For a fresh application of Mr. Girard’s insights into power politics, that great international theater of irrationality, try Jean-Michel Oughourlian’s “Psychopolitics,” a brief, freewheeling 2012 work by one of Mr. Girard’s closest collaborators.

Peter Thiel's Review:

… He tells how the Nazis and the Soviets drove each other to ever more murderous atrocities as they fought to dominate Eastern Europe in the 1930s and ’40s. Even as he calculates the death toll painstakingly, Mr. Snyder reminds us that the most important number is one: Each victim was an individual whose life cannot be reduced to the violence that cut it short.

Peter Thiel's Review:

.. was first published in 2011, but its message is evergreen: how scientists are directly attacking the problem of aging and death and why we should fight for life instead of accepting decay as inevitable. The goal of longer life doesn’t just mean more years at the margin; it means a healthier old age. There is nothing to fear but our own complacency.

The American Challenge
book
by Jean Jacques. Servan-Schreiber

Peter Thiel's Review:

A book that foresaw the information age. Here is a powerful quote from the book: “The signs and instruments of power are no longer armed legions or raw materials or capital… The wealth we seek does not lie in the earth or in numbers of men or in machines, but in the human spirit. And particularly in the ability of men to think and to create.

The Right Stuff
book
by Tom Wolfe

Peter Thiel's Review:

"What is it, I wondered, that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle…and wait for someone to light the fuse?" Wolfe asks that question in his classic about the test pilots who became the first astronauts. It's both a great history of the space race and a meditation on how to steel yourself to take risks.

Peter Thiel's Review:

Bacon writes of a utopian land called Bensalem where people live better lives because of science. Bacon “focuses on the duty of the state toward science, and his projections for state-sponsored research anticipate many advances in medicine and surgery, meteorology, and machinery.” Keep in mind this was written in 1627.

The Great Illusion
book
by Norman Angell, Sir Norman Angell

Peter Thiel's Review:

I’d never heard of this book before now, but as one Amazon reviewer summed it up: “(this is) a tightly reasoned and broadly historical perspective challenging the reigning view that man’s nature is inherently evil and that evil nature must dictate human relations.”

Peter Thiel's Review:

This book breaks the taboo on prophecy: We're not supposed to talk about a future that doesn't include the powerful states that rule over us today. Rees-Mogg and Davidson argue that national governments could soon become as antiquated as 19th-century empires.

Peter Thiel's Review:

I started reading this once and was mesmerized by Stephenson’s imaginative future world. If you like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, this is the book for you.

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