marc andreessen

Marc Andreessen’s Book Recommendations and Reading List

Marc Andreessen is somewhat of a Silicon Valley legend, having co-created the first web browser to become truly popular: Mosaic.

Since then, he’s founded several profitable companies, including Ning and Netscape. He also holds a chair on several of the most well-known technology enterprises in the world, like Facebook, eBay, and Hewlett Packard. He is now one of the most famous venture capitalists, having started a16z, a tier-one investment firm that is known to provide services, guidance, and tools for their portfolio companies in addition to capital.

Apart from being an entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer, he’s also an avid reader. He learned programming from books from the library, so it’s no wonder that he should recommend plenty of amazing reads to the general public.

He is known for tweeting insights, advice, and wisdom on his Twitter page, though not as frequently as he used to. Because of all of this, he is widely considered one of the top minds in Silicon Valley when it comes to starting companies, investments, and technology.

Andreessen has done well for himself, so picking up some of his book recommendations is certainly worth your time! 

1. A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia 1st Edition (by Peter Burke)

Starting in 1750, the author picks up the story right after the point in history where the previous volume ended. This tome guides the reader from the publication of the French Encyclopédie to the creation of Wikipedia

Review: The author includes plenty of fascinating and little-known historical details, analyzing mankind’s timeline from a social perspective.

  • Author: Peter Burke is a British historian who focuses mainly on social and cultural history. He advocates for the importance of considering the past to solve modern problems.
  • Pages: 248
  • Publisher: Polity (January 17, 2012)

2. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler)

The authors of this book address several of modern society’s most dire concerns. Overpopulation, hunger, and healthcare, alongside other subjects, are analyzed and straightforward solutions are offered.

Review: Though some may consider it overly-optimistic to a fault, Abundance is a fascinating read, that grants its readers a new perspective on worldwide problems.

  • Author: Peter Diamandis has founded over a dozen companies, and co-founded the Singularity University. He worked alongside Steven Kotler, a journalist with plenty of other publications under his name. He regularly writes for such publications as The New York Times Magazine, GQ, and National Geographic. 
  • Pages: 402
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 21, 2012)

3. Industry and Empire: From 1750 to the Present Day (By E J Hobsbawm)

Starting at the beginning of the industrial revolution, during which Britain established itself as the leading power, EJ Hobsbawm analyzes its rise and fall as the major worldwide pioneer.

Review: Industry and Empire is a fascinating read, penned by one of the world’s most renowned historians. That being said, Hobsbawm has been accused of defending the Communist doctrine to a fault, and this fact is reflected in every single one of his books.

  • Author: EJ Hobsbawm was a celebrated author and historian. He penned several award-winning books and is best known for his trilogy about the 19th century.
  • Pages: 431
  • Publisher: Penguin  (April 29, 1999)

4. Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies (by Andreas M. Antonopoulos)

If you have always wondered how bitcoins work and how to invest in them, this is the right book for you! 

Review: Though the first few chapters are ideal for any person interested in bitcoins, the book moves on to far more technical details as it progresses. Half of the book might, thus, only be appropriate for coders.

  • Author: Andreas M. Antonopoulos is considered one of the world’s most predominant experts in cryptocurrencies and open blockchains. He is a popular author as well as a speaker and educator.
  • Pages: 298
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media (December 3, 2014)

5. Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies (by Andreas M. Antonopoulos)

If you have always wondered how bitcoins work and how to invest in them, this is the right book for you! 

Review: Though the first few chapters are ideal for any person interested in bitcoins, the book moves on to far more technical details as it progresses. Half of the book might, thus, only be appropriate for coders.

  • Author: Andreas M. Antonopoulos is considered one of the world’s most predominant experts in cryptocurrencies and open blockchains. He is a popular author as well as a speaker and educator.
  • Pages: 298
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media (December 3, 2014)

6. Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion (By Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis)

Blown to bits explores how privacy, and life in general, was affected by the sudden digital explosion that turned our planet into a hyper-connected world. It also explores the economic and political decisions that lead us to this current state, and what the future may hold.

Review: Though it’s a detailed and well-researched book, it’s mostly aimed at people with a deep knowledge of technology. Not truly meant for the general public.

  • Author: Hal Abelson has founded several organizations focused on the right to user freedom online, like the Free Software Foundation. Ken Ledeen, is the Ceo of Nevo Technologies and sits on the board of directors of several technology companies. Harry Lewis, is an accomplished writer, and the former Dean of Harvard College.
  • Pages: 384
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional (June 16, 2008)

7. Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, The Father of Cybernetics (By Flo Conway, and Jim Siegelman)

This fascinating biography of Norbert Wiener is a must-read. Wiener is one of the founders of cybernetics, and he helped kindle the digital and information explosion. 

Review: The authors included several impossible-to-miss anecdotes from the people who knew and loved Wiener, details you won’t discover in any other books about this fascinating man. That being said, the book can be a bit one-sided from time to time, so take the authors’ praises with a grain of salt.

  • Author: Hal Abelson has founded several organizations focused on the right to user freedom online, like the Free Software Foundation. Ken Ledeen, is the Ceo of Nevo Technologies and sits on the board of directors of several technology companies. Harry Lewis, is an accomplished writer, and the former Dean of Harvard College.
  • Pages: 423
  • Publisher: Basic Books (December 13, 2004)

8. Emanuel Goldberg and His Knowledge Machine: Information, Invention, and Political Forces (By Michael Buckland)

This biography analyzes the life and immense contribution to the advancement of technology of Emanuel Goldberg. He was an accomplished chemist and inventor that seemed to be erased from the annals of history. Michael Buckland researched Goldberg’s life, as well as long-lost documents to prove that his inventions were far greater than previously considered.

Review: There is little to criticize about this fascinating book. It offers a brand new insight into the life and inventions of one of history’s forgotten heroes. Those not used to reading biographies might find Buckland’s writing dull, but it’s worth your time to stick with it.

  • Author: Michael Buckland has degrees in History and Librarianship, and was selected as Dean of the School of Library and Information Studies at Berkeley. He has also authored several other books previous to his biography of Goldberg.
  • Pages: 398
  • Publisher: Libraries Unlimited (March 31, 2006)

9. Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (By Neal Gabler)

In Life the movie, Gabler analyzes the way both high and low culture evolved since the 19th century in America. He attempts to answer the question: How did low-brow culture changed so deeply American society as a whole?

Review: Life the movie is a fascinating, entertaining read. It’s recommended for the general public, but can be self-congratulatory from time to time.

  • Author: Neal Gabler is an author with many books under his belt, most focusing on the world of entertainment and its fascinating history. He’s been featured in several publications, such as Vanity Fair, Esquire, Playboy, Newsweek, and Vogue.
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 29, 2000)

10. Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (by Chris Anderson)

In Makers, author Chris Anderson analyzes the modern industrial revolution. Unlike the 18th century revolution, this new technological uprise is centered around concepts such as open-source design and 3-D printing, 

Review: Makers has been accused of being an editorialized version of history, but it’s still a fascinating read. It describes how innovations and new ideas seem to be leading us into a brand new industrial revolution.

  • Author: Chris Anderson is a bestselling author and co-founder of 3D Robotics, a company that manufactures drones and aerial robots. 
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 29, 2000)

11. Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History from the Alphabet to the Internet (By William J. Bernstein)

William Bernstein analyzes the journey of the written word, since its humble origins to the birth of the internet. It takes a deep look at how the media and communications affected the evolution of society as a whole.

Review: Though Masters of the word is without a doubt a fascinating read, it’s not neatly organized, and can seem a bit messy to the average reader. It takes some effort to fully comprehend, but it’s worth the reader’s while.

  • Author: Willliam J. Berstein is an author, historian and financial theorist with several books under his belt. His previous publications were received by the public with overwhelming approval.
  • Pages: 448
  • Publisher: Grove Press (February 29, 2000)

12. Millionaire: The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance (By Janet Gleeson)

An impossible to miss biography focusing on the life and work of John Law, Millionaire analyzes how Law changed the world of finance and banking. Law was an ultra-rich mathematician well-known for his interest in gambling and women, who introduced the world to a revolutionary concept: Paper money.

Review: Millionaire read like a fiction book, but it’s entirely based on the very real life of John Law. It’s a fascinating story that takes a novel-style approach, which might not appeal to all biography-aficionados. 

  • Author: Janet Gleeson is an accomplished author who’d penned several acclaimed books before and after Millionaire. 
  • Pages: 303
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 6, 2000)

13. Orwell’s Revenge. The 1984 Palimpsest Hardcover (By Peter Huber)

Building a parallelism with Orwell’s 1984, author Peter Huber exposes his theory that, in fact, technology will grant the general public far more freedom, instead of ripping it away. It’s a fascinating take on the evolution of technology and the opportunities it grants humankind.

Review: Orwell’s revenge has been criticized for being one-sided and ignoring privacy scandals involving government branches all over the world. That being said, it’s a fascinating and enthralling read, wholly recommendable to better comprehend the world that surrounds us.

  • Author: Peter Huber earned both a law degree from Harvard and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He’s written several books that center around law and cybernetics, as well as the importance of privacy in today’s modern world.
  • Pages: 374
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 15, 1994)

14. How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate (By Andrew Hargadon)

How breakthroughs happen analyzes the story and process behind several of history’s most brilliant inventions. It’s a detailed account of the methods used by the world’s most genius inventors and organizations.

Review: Though this book shows great promise and has fascinating chapters, there is a big problem that’s impossible to miss. There are too many passages referencing the author himself and may come across as slightly self-congratulatory. That being said, it’s a worthy read and grants the reader new insight into the process of making a grand creation. 

  • Author: Andrew Hargadon works as an Assistant Professor of Technology Management at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California.
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (June 5, 2003)

Andreessen earnestly believes that everyone should read as many of these books as they are interested in. He encouraged the general public to widen their horizons and better understand the world that surrounds them. It’s worth your time to select at least a few and expand your worldview through every single one.

Check back here to see more updates to his reading list as we plan to keep this updated with more books. You can also check out his twitter, where he sometimes shares new recs.

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