The Bill Gates /
Osama Bin Laden Library Smackdown

Steven Levy
May 21, 2015 · 4 min read

By Steven Levy

It is an odd day that produces reading lists from Bill Gates and Osama Bin Laden. But that’s what happened yesterday. On his blog, the Microsoft co-founder and foundation head shared the books he was going to take to the beach this summer. (Note to Bill: wear sunscreen.) And a reluctant Office of the Director of National Intelligence finally coughed up the titles of the books found in the Al Qaeda leader’s Pakistan retreat when he was apprehended and killed.

If the trove of books is any indication, ruthless terrorist Bin Laden shared something in common with technologist and mega-philanthropist Bill Gates: a voracious appetite for reading. What’s more, even though it might be hard to imagine two more different men, it seems that some of these tomes might be equally interesting to both figures, who in a different life might have been members of an extraordinarily weird book club.

But before you follow the links to the respective lists, have some fun with a quiz: the Gates/Bin Laden Library Smackdown. Here are eight books that appeared on one of reading lists of these men. Pull out your pencils and mark down your best guess as whose night table each tome occupied.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

by John Perkins

Should We Eat Meat?

by Vaclav Smil

Secrets of the Federal Reserve

by Eustace Mullins

On Immunity

by Eula Biss

How to Lie With Statistics

by Darrell Huff

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

by Paul Kennedy

A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam

by I. A. Ibrahim

Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century

by Bev Harris

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Steven Levy

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Editor of Backchannel. Also, I write stuff.



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