David Rosenthal


Made in America (Sam Walton) + Made in Japan (Akio Morita)

Two of the very best autobiographies we’ve read for Acquired episodes over the years, and perfectly paired together: Sam Walton’s story of Walmart, and Akio Morito’s story of Sony. I can’t think of two better histories for understanding the blend of social, economic, entrepreneurial and technological miracles that created the modern post-WWII world. 

7 Powers (Hamilton Helmer)

My vote for the best business and investing book of the past 20 years, and has had a huge impact on Acquired. Hamilton has become a good friend and mentor over the years, and is just as wise about life as he is about business. 

The Luxury Strategy (Jean-Noël Kapferer and Vincent Bastien)

A key part of our LVMH episode research, and a completely orthogonal way of thinking about business. Contains the incredible “24 Anti-Laws of Marketing” (my favorite: #2 Ensure your product has enough flaws to give it soul).

Transitions (William Bridges)

A classic guide to navigating major changes (both good and bad) that inevitably occur in your life. Given to me by a good friend during a challenging time in my life, and I’ve found it immensely helpful ever since. Has since become my most-gifted book to others.

Candide (Voltaire)

A throwback to my days as a French literature major in college — short, funny, and with a moral that’s still deeply relevant 250+ years later.

The Godfather (Mario Puzo)

The Godfather films might have my vote for best movies ever made (along with the original Star Wars trilogy!), but the book is even better. I read it for the first time a few years ago and was blown away. I recommend reading first and then watching/re-watching the movies immediately afterward. 

Dune series (Frank Herbert)

My vote for the best and most thought-provoking Sci-Fi series of all-time (although Asimov’s Foundation series is a close second). Inspired by Herbert’s assignment as a journalist covering the US Department of Agriculture’s attempt to contain sand dunes on the Oregon coast, and has maybe my favorite novel quote: “The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” Kinda like Star Wars, the later books in the series go off the rails a bit, but the first few are so good they more than make up for it. 

The Expanse series (James S.A. Corey)

My absolute favorite modern fiction series, Sci-Fi or any genre. Fun fact: one of the two authors (Corey is a pen name for the duo) was George R.R. Martin’s assistant and creative collaborator. But The Expanse is much, much more than just Game of Thrones in space. My go-to rec whenever someone’s looking for great contemporary fiction. 


Don Valentine’s 2010 lecture at Stanford

Don Valentine was the founder of Sequoia Capital, and one of the most important figures in the development of Silicon Valley. This lecture is

a master class in venture capital, entrepreneurship, and especially the lost art of true “Marketing” — in every sense of the word.

Michael Lewis’s 2012 Princeton Baccalaureate speech

I can’t not have a Michael Lewis recommendation in here, and this is both my favorite piece of his and among his least well-known. The punchline, “don’t eat the cookie”, are words my wife and I try to live by. 

Resonant Arc

My favorite podcast (I listen in audio form, but their main platform is YouTube) — two old friends perform literary analysis on classic old school video games, mostly 90s and 00s JRPGs. Think 20+ hours of deep, symbolic analysis of Final Fantasy X… pure bliss for an old video game nerd like me. 


Hands down the best children’s TV on the market today. Like a great Disney or Pixar movie, it’s written as much for the parents as for the kids. My daughter and I watch at least a few eps together most nights.