ArchiveDisruptive TechnologyOODA Original

Best Security, Business, and Technology Books of 2017

In looking at advances in technology over the past year, I’m reminded of the Lenin quote “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

It seems that to make the most sense of the top security and business trends you need to have a keen eye for advancements in AI, virtual currencies, and other technologies. That perspective has influenced my Top 10 books for 2017. Another influence was my desire to study past innovations and innovators. I found myself too focused on the innovators of my era, and while they are certainly important, I wondered what value might be derived from studying innovators of the near-past. As a result, two of those books have made it onto my top ten list for the year. Absent this year are books on cybersecurity. I feel that books on that topic over the past year just didn’t raise the bar. Admittedly, there are still a few “future or war” books in my queue, but nothing I’d read to date was deemed worthy of the top ten.

Want more books like these? Every week I hand-pick the top 7-10 stories that should be on your radar screen, which I distribute via email every Sunday morning. Each transmission also includes a book recommendation, so if you are looking for more to read please subscribe at

64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World by Kevin Roberts
“64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World” by Kevin Roberts was my favorite book of the year. It is filled with so many nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that it was also my most highlighted book of the year. Thus far, I’ve gifted over 25 copies to friends and colleagues and have received great feedback from the recipients as well.

I’m a firm believer that the right book finds you at the right time and I’m grateful that this book found me.

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper
My best performing asset of 2017 was Bitcoin and I’m often asked for recommendations of what to read on the topic. My favorite Bitcoin book of 2017 was “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money” by Nathaniel Popper. Bitcoin’s history is only just being written, but this book provides an accessible look at the story thus far. (Amazon Link)

Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes by Richard Clarke
Of the numerous books Richard Clarke has written, his latest “Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes” is my favorite by far. It provides an essential look at those analysts and researchers who provided advanced warning of significant global events and the societal, organizational, and leadership barriers the prevented them from being heard. It concludes with some thoughts on how we can identify and act on future warnings and discern realistic predictions from sensational doomsayers. (Amazon Link)

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax
I’m an early adopter of technology and always looking for ways to bring digital tools into the my daily routine. That said, I’m consistently drawn back to pen and paper, paper books, and my vinyl records. “The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter” by David Sax is a fascinating exploration of tension between digital an analogue. (Amazon Link)

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
I really enjoyed Adam Grant’s “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” which provides several case studies of how mavericks persisted and persuaded in large organizations. (Amazon Link)

You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future by Jonathon Keats

You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future” by Jonathon Keats was my favorite foray into studying past innovators. An eclectic inventor of many technologies that were deemed to be the realm of science fiction at the time, his persistent vision of the future is a worthy exploration for those looking to understand our future now. (Amazon Link)

The Man Who Designed the Future by B. Alexandra Szerlip
As you walk down mainstreet and wonder at the store window displays, you have Norman Bel Geddes to thank. As much a look at the emergence of culture as it is a look at innovation, I found the marriage of the two made for a fascinating read in “The Man Who Designed the Future” by B. Alexandra Szerlip(Amazon Link)

The Field Researcher’s Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork by David Danelo
I had originally decided to include Ray Dalio’s book Principles on this list, but determined that readers will have lots of exposure to that book on other great lists. Instead, I’ve included this little gem of a book with only one Amazon review. With all the technical tools available to us it is easy to de-emphasize the value of real world observation and field research. David J. Danelo’s “The Field Researcher’s Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork” reminds us that all we know about the world shouldn’t be observed via a computer monitor. As Le Carre once penned, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” (Amazon Link)

Void Star by Zachary Mason

Void Star” by Zachary Mason was my favorite science fiction book of 2017. A failed medical trial results in a handful of patients with malfunctioning neurological implants. One of them develops a capability to interface and negotiate with rogue or malfunctioning cooperate AI systems. Reading Void Star reminded me of the experience of first reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Gibson’s ability to predict and define the future is widely documented. (Amazon Link)

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous” by Annalee Newitz had already been heralded by cyberpunk legends William Gibson and Neal Stephenson so it was sure to land a priority spot in my reading queue. Dealing with issues of biohacking, artificial intelligence, and robotics it uniquely weaves a story largely told from the perspective of autonomous and indentured bots. The future in Autonomous seems all too real and the relationship between humans and technology just uncomfortable enough to be thought provoking. For example, should bots be allowed to have private thoughts? The fact that this gem of a book is released the same year as Void Star makes me hopeful that we are entering into a new era of provocative science fiction. Highly recommended. (Amazon Link)

Matt Devost

Matt Devost

Matthew G. Devost is the CEO & Co-Founder of OODA LLC. Matt is a technologist, entrepreneur, and international security expert specializing in counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, intelligence, risk management and cyber-security issues. Matt co-founded the cyber security consultancy FusionX from 2010-2017. Matt was President & CEO of the Terrorism Research Center/Total Intel from 1996-2009. For a full bio, please see