- Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness – Susannah Cahalan
- In 2009 Cahalan was inflicted with anti-NMDA receptor
encephalitis, an autoimmune disease which causes memory loss, violent episodes, and delusions. She has no memory of the time she spent in the
hospital, and now that she has recovered she wrote this book from doctor's notes, the logs of her parents, videos of her in the hospital,
and interviews with those who helped and witnessed her life in this period. She tells the story in the first-person singular like she was
remembering it. This New York Times bestselling autobiography is fascinating reading!
- Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver – Eugene Salomon
( not a bio but a great 3-page interview)
- What's it like to drive a cab in New York City? Salomon, who has been a cabbie in NYC since 1977, has lots of really interesting experiences to
tell about (he says taxi passengers come in the following categories: people who look strange but act normal, people who look strange and act
strange, and people who look normal but act strange) and he is very witty and articulate in his stories about them. The book has a lot about New
York's streets and neighborhoods, and is structured in chapters that make it easy to read in spurts.
Salomon has a couple of blogs...
Cabs Are For Kissing
Pictures From A Taxi
- Against All Enemies – Richard A. Clarke
- Clarke began working in the federal government in 1973 and was the U.S. counter-terrorism "czar" from 1992-2003. He was appointed to chair the
Counter-terrorism Security Group (CSG) and he was an expert on al Qaeda and began sounding the alarm about Osama bin Laden and his terrorist
training camps in Afghanistan long before 9/11. Bill Clinton was very open to input from Clarke but his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears
after Bush was elected (Condoleezza Rice, Bush's National Security Advisor, didn't even seem to know who al Qaeda was). Here is how he
expressed his view of the Bush reaction to 9/11:
"As he stood with an arm around a New York fireman promising to get those who had destroyed the World Trade Center,
he was every American's President. His polls soared. He had a unique opportunity to unite America, to bring the United
States together with allies around the world to fight terrorism and hate, to eliminate al Qaeda, to eliminate our
vulnerabilities, to strengthen important nations threatened by radicalism. He did none of those things. He invaded
Clarke resigned from the Bush administration in 2003 and wrote this terrific book in 2004.
- The Looming Tower – Lawrence Wright
- The Looming Tower includes a lot of biography of
Osama bin Laden, and it describes the histories and activities of the Arab terrorist organizations al-Qaeda and al-Jihad
leading up to 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole bombing in 2000, and the 9/11 attacks. I was amazed
to learn of the jealous rivalry between the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA and their failures to share vital information with each
other, and it was shocking to learn how much the CIA knew of the hijackers' activities before 9/11 but did nothing to stop
them, including that known al-Qaeda operatives were allowed to board the planes that they hijacked. If I may quote from the
Wikipedia article linked above, the author "describes in detail some of the Americans
involved, in particular Richard A. Clarke, chief counter-terrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council, and John P.
O'Neill, an Assistant Deputy Director of Investigation for the FBI who served as America's top bin Laden hunter until his
retirement from the FBI in August 2001, after which he got a job as head of security at the World Trade Center, where he died
in the 9/11 attacks."
The title of the book is from the Qur'an, " Wherever you are, death will find you, even in the looming tower."
- Charles Kuralt's America – Charles Kuralt
- This is a fascinating book by a charming man. Kuralt wrote this book about his travels after he retired. It has chapters on many interesting places including New
Orleans; Key West; Charleston, South Carolina; Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina; Ketchikan, Alaska; Ely,
Minnesota; Boothbay Harbor, Maine; Twin Bridges, Montana; Woodstock, Vermont; Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico;
and New York City. There are many great stories of the local people and cultures in these locations and I found this book hard
to put down.
- Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
"The saga of Steve Jobs is the Silicon Valley creation myth writ large: launching a startup in his parents' garage
and building it into the world's most valuable company. He didn't invent many things outright, but he was a master at putting together
ideas, art, and technology in ways that invented the future." – Walter Isaacson
"He [had] an uncanny ability to cook up gadgets that we didn't know we needed, but then suddenly can't live
without." – Daniel Lyons, Forbes
This is a biography of one of technology's greatest innovators. In addition to details about Jobs' life Isaacson describes the
founding of Apple by Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and provides great background information on the development of Apple's products,
including the Macintosh, iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, and things that go with them like iTunes and the
iStore. The book also describes other Jobs' endeavors like being the CEO and majority stockholder of Pixar when they
created movies like Toy Story. Jobs does not come across very likable, but I love the things he did in his life. Jobs
describes his (and Apple's) philosophy of fully integrated (closed) hardware/software as,
"We do these things not because we are control freaks. We do them because we want to make great products, because
we care about the user, and because we like to take responsibility for the entire experience rather than turn out the
crap that other people make."
The "other people" is a reference to Microsoft Windows and Google Android, two open operating systems that
allow 3rd parties to develop for them on PCs and smartphones. Isaacson hints that Apple, the company that started out as rebels
(view the 1984 Macintosh commercial), appears to be turning into Big Brother.
- Hardcourt Confidential – Patrick McEnroe,
with Peter Bodo
- McEnroe (John's brother) toured as a pro in the 80s and 90s, served as Davis Cup captain for 10 years, and is now involved in player
development with the USTA and is an ESPN commentator. The book is full of details about the personalities and playing styles of the players,
the dynamics of coaching, has many tournament settings, and much Davis Cup intrigue. Being a player himself gives McEnroe special insite into
analyzing the techniques of the game. Reading his descriptions of the skills and charm of Roger Federer and Andy Roddick made me really like
and respect these two immensely talented players, and being a tennis player myself I loved this book.
- Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers – Tom Wolfe (I also review Wolfe under Fiction)
- I first read this book in the 70s but I couldn't resist reading one of my favorite author's books again. This book is two articles Wolfe wrote
for New York magazine in 1970. In the late 60s Leonard and Felicia Bernstein and other wealthy New Yorker's held fund-raising parties
at their homes for the Black Panthers (see Radical Chic: That
Party at Lenny's for the original article including photos). Wolfe describes the events and the culture clashes in his usual clever
wit. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the book:
Leon Quat [a lawyer involved in raising funds for the Panthers] rose up smiling: "We are very grateful to Mrs. Bernstein"—only he pronounced it "steen."
STEIN!"—a great smoke-cured voice booming out from the rear of the room! It's Lenny! Leon Quat and the
Black Panthers will have a chance to hear from Lenny. That much is sure. He is on the case. Leon Quat must be the only man in the room
who does not know about Lenny and and the Mental Jotto at 3 a.m. . . . For years, 20 at the least, Lenny has insisted on -stein,
not -steen, as if to say, I am not one of those 1921 Jews who try to tone town their Jewishness by watering their names down with
a bad soft English pronunciation. Lenny has made such a point of -stein not -steen, in fact, that some people in this room
think at once of the story of how someone approached Larry Rivers, the artist, and said, "What's this I hear about you and Leonard
Bernstein"&mdashsteen, he pronounced it&mdash"not speaking to each other anymore?"—to which Rivers said,
By 1965—as in 1935, as in 1926, as in 1883, as in 1866, as in 1820—New York had two Societies, "Old New
York" and "New Society." In every era, "Old New York" has taken a horrified look at "New Society" and
expressed the devout conviction that a genuine aristocracy, good blood—good bone—themselves—was being defiled by a
horde of rank climbers. This has been an all-time favorite number. In the 1960's this quaint belief was magnified by the fact that many
members of "New Society," for the first time, were not Protestant. The names and addresses of "Old New York" were to
be found in the Social Register, which even ten years ago was still confidently spoken of as the Stud Book and the Good Book. It was, and
still is, almost excusively a roster of Protestant families. Today, however, the Social Register's annual shuffle, in which errant
socialites, e.g., John Jacob Astor, are dropped from the Good Book, hardly even rates a yawn. The fact is that "Old New
York"—except for those members who also figure in "New Society," e.g., Nelson Rockefeller, John Hay Whitney, Mrs.
Wyatt Cooper—is no longer good copy, and without publicity it has never been easy to rank as a fashionable person in New
I enjoy Wolfe so much I think I am going to re-read all his books.
- The UnDutchables – Colin White & Laurie Boucke
- I read this hilarious book before a trip to Amsterdam. The authors (White is British and Boucke is American) have both lived for extended
periods in Holland and witnessed the culture, and they tell you what to expect when going there. The book is primarly offering advice for
those that might live in Holland, exploring things like waste recycling that don't matter to a visitor, but it is full of so many
gems that it is a really enjoyable read. Here are some of the things they said that cracked me up!
| In the chapter on shopping . . .
"For smokers, before entering a shop, find a waste bin containing dry, combustible material in which to throw your burning cigarette."
| In the chapter on driving . . .
"If you are the first car to stop at a red light, do not expect to be able to see the traffic lights. Thanks to brilliant Dutch
engineering, your car will be sitting directly under the lights. Just relax and rely on a honk or two from the car(s) behind you.
Horns are guaranteed to sound if you do not react instantly to the green light."
(This advice works in my hometown Boston, also.)
| In the chapter on sex . . .
"Sex can be mentioned coldly but candidly with dinner guests:
'The children had fun at the beach yesterday. We had good sex last night. I must go to the dentist soon.' "
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby
- This is a fascinating biographical narrative by a victim of locked-in
syndrome. Baudy was an author and the editor of ELLE, the French fashion magazine, until he had a massive stroke in 1995 that left
him entirely paralized except for his left eyelid, with which he would learn to express himself. His speech therapist would show him or recite
an alphabet, and Bauby would blink to signal the letter he wanted. This is their devised arrangement of that alphabet followed by his witty,
E S A R I N T U L O M D P C F B V H G J Q Z Y X K W
"The jumbled appearance of my chorus line stems not from chance but from cunning calculation. More than an alphabet, it is a hit
parade in which each letter is placed according to the frequency of its use in the French language. That is why E dances proudly out
front, while W labors to hold on to last place. B resents being pushed back next to V, and haughty J—which begins so many
sentences in French—is amazed to find itself so near the rear of the pack. Roly-poly G is annoyed to have to trade places with H,
while T and U, the tender components of tu, rejoice that they have not been separated. All this reshuffling has a purpose: to
make it easier for those who wish to communicate with me."
Bauby worked with ghostwriter Claude Mendibil to write this book, and in spite of the tedious process of dictating the words one letter at a
time he is quite verbose and articulates many memories and fantasies, and the methods of living with his condition. His words are so
expressive it is easy to forget that they come from someone whose mind is trapped in a stationary body, and it's amazing that someone so
distressed can be so charming.
- Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
- In this fascinating book Gladwell theorizes how the success of many people we know, including Bill Gates, the Beatles, and J. Robert
Oppenheimer is a result of more than genius and talent. Gladwell defines "outliers" as people who do not fit into our normal understanding of
Through the circumstance of their birth they were fortunate to pursue their fields at a time and place that was to their advantage, literally
being in the right place at the right time. And then there is his 10,000 Hour Rule, where
the "greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians and scientists emerge only after spending at least three hours a day for a decade
mastering their chosen field."
"They are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and
cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot."
Blink — In this book Gladwell talks about "thin-slicing," making snap-judgements about things using unconscious tools
with little conscious analysis. I particulary enjoyed reading about "priming," i.e. influencing people's behavior by having them read something to affect
their thoughts before acting.
- Chronicles, Volume One – Bob Dylan
- This is Bob Dylan's autobiography and he really opens up. I learned so much about his life from his days in Minnesota to his early days in
Greenwich village. There are anecdotes of hanging out with friends, and what went through his mind during recording sessions. He describes his
relationships with Albert Grossman, his manager—Daniel Lanois, his record producer on several albums—and John Hammond, his producer
at Columbia Records, who really got his professional career going. I found his feelings about different people and events quite revealing. For
instance, of all the covers of his songs by other artists he thought Johnny Rivers' recording of Positively 4th Street really captured
where he was coming from when he wrote the song. Dylan never accepted being the "voice of his generation," which was thrust upon him.
- A Freewheelin' Time, A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties – Suze Rotolo
- Suze Rotolo is an artist who's original claim to fame
was that she was Bob Dylan's girlfriend as he was a rising star and appeared on the cover of his album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, so this
book has a lot of biographical info on Dylan. Suze was a "red-diaper baby" (her parents were Communists) so she has a different perspective on
a lot of things. A very interesting episode is when she and a group of students travelled to Cuba in 1964 in defiance of the U.S. State
Department's ban on Americans going there. They could not fly directly to Cuba so they had go there via London, Paris, and Prague, and there
were some pretty tense moments in the various airports' customs as the U.S. tried to stop the trip. She was actually pretty liberated before
there was a feminist movement and she expresses some interesting feelings about her relationship with Dylan as his fame took off:
Suze is very bright, articulate, and charming, and I found this book hard to put down.
"As time went by, those of us who were close to Bob were subjected to trickle-down fame."
"I couldn't handle being 'one step closer to God.' I was being pecked at because of my proximity to the end of the rainbow."
"I knew I was not suited for his life. I could never be the woman behind the great man: I didn't have the discipline for that kind of sacrifice."
- Positively 4th Street – David Hajdu
- Subtitled The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña this book tells you a lot about the
lives of these great performers. If you lived through the folk revival of the early 60s (as I did) you will remember many of the people and
events in the book. Richard Fariña was a very driven man who recorded several great albums with his wife Mimi (Joan Baez's sister) and wrote a
great book, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, before he was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966. Dylan sounds like a very
difficult man to like, but his life is fascinating and his music is great. I have many of his songs on my smartphone, both by him and by others, and several of his videos on my website.
- The Nine – Jeffrey Toobin
- This is CNN legal analyst Toobin's description of the workings of the U.S. Supreme Court. He says there are two kinds of cases that come before
the Court, abortion cases—and all others. The position of the justices on this issue is quite profound, both in their actions and also in
their being nominated by the President to serve on the Court in the first place. There is a fairly complete account of the 2000 Bush v. Gore
case that gave the presidency to George W. Bush, which Toobin says,
I strongly agree. He quotes justice Steven's opinion in which Stevens says,
"... amounted to a catalog of [the Court's] worst flaws as judges."
In this case the majority of the justices were determined to overturn any ruling of the
Florida Supreme Court that was favorable to Vice President Gore. Justice Souter was so upset by the political nature of the decision that he
nearly resigned in protest. (From this opinion I completely lost my trust in the U.S. Supreme court to render an impartial, non-partisan
decision.) One funny situation that Toobin describes is that it is a running joke at the Court that Souter is frequently mistaken for fellow
Justice Stephen Breyer, even though the two bear little resemblance to each other.
"Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the
loser is pellucidly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."
This book is a great read.
One day when Souter was making his usual solo drive from Washington to New Hampshire (where he has a home) he stopped for lunch in Massachusetts.|
A stranger and his wife came up to him and asked, "Aren't you on the Supreme Court?"
Souter said he was.
"You're Justice Breyer, right?" said the man.
Rather than embarrass the fellow, Souter simply nodded and exchanged pleasantries, until he was asked an unexpected question.
"Justice Breyer, what's the best thing about being on the Supreme Court?"
The justice thought for a while, then said, "Well, I'd have to say it's the privilege of serving with David Souter."
- A Long Way Gone - Memoirs of a Boy Soldier – Ishmael Beah (good interview videos on this link)
- This first person account of a boy's adventures in Sierra Leone's civil war in the 1990s is very gripping. When he was 12 years old Ishmael's village was raided by rebels and he fled with other children, enduring
"months of traveling, sleeping in the bush, and having to eat and drink what the forest provided." Eventually these children were recruited into the army where they fought many battles and participated in
the war's atrocities. After several years he was entered into a rehabilitation program, ultimately coming to the U.S. and finishing high school in Manhattan and getting a B.A. in political science at Oberlin College in Ohio.
Now he speaks at the United Nations, UNICEF, and other places to raise awareness of the continual and rampant recruitment of children in wars around the world. I highly recommend this book. I saw Ishmael speak
and he autographed my book!
- The R.Crumb Handbook – R.Crumb and Peter Poplaski
In the sixties I was a big fan of cartoonist Robert Crumb's Zap Comix and his characters Mr. Natural, Flakey Foont, Fritz the Cat, Devil Girl and the Keep on Truckin' guy,
so I was really thrilled when I received this autobiography of Crumb as a present from my wife. In The R.Crumb Handbook Crumb tells about creating homemade FOO comics as a child with his brother Charles. There are a lot of photographs and his
illustrations in the book. In one chapter he says something that I think sums up his philosophy quite well. Crumb says, "As a person I was weak and helpless in the real world. It's a jungle out there! But, since I'd rather be dead than mediocre,
my motto is: Every Drawing a Masterpiece!"
- State of War – James Risen
- This book gives a behind the scenes look at the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some of the points Risen makes are:
- The Bush administration ignores or suppresses intelligence information that does not support its views
- There was no pre-war or post-war plan for the Iraq war.
- The CIA had no presence in Iraq before war began
- The Pentagon is against post-war nation-building
- The heroin trade was allowed to grow to outrageous levels
in Afghanistan because the US was afraid of inciting anti-American violence if they attacked the drug lords
- Rumsfeld, not Bush, has the last word in foreign policy
In November 2003, after the initial US invasion that had toppled Sadam's regime had quieted down, as the Iraqi insurgents were starting to become more active
an army officer said to the CIA station chief in Baghdad, "The war is about to begin." The violence has continued and Risen says it has begun to look like "we are in danger of losing a war we thought we had already won."
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
- This book is a punctuation lover's (or stickler's) delight. One of the most prominently misunderstood and
misused characters in the English language is the apostrophe, and the book has many examples of its questionable use
(eg, should that be its or it's?), a common misuse being writing "CD's" and "1990's" instead of "CDs"
and "1990s". Truss points out that text messaging has really caused punctuation rules to be ignored, and it will be interesting to see
what influence this freewheeling style will have on regular writing. Some may find these rules too rigid, but if you think of
punctuation in the way Truss describes it, as "a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling,"
you can appreciate its power and usefulness. Truss is charming and witty, and I caught myself laughing out loud many times
as I read this book.
- Seabiscuit – Laura Hillenbrand
- This is the story of one of the greatest thoroughbred racehorses in history. With smallish stature, knobby knees,
and slightly crooked forelegs, Seabiscuit was the
most unlikely of champions, but the team of owner Charles Howard, trainer Tom Smith, and jockeys Red Pollard &
George Woolf brought out his natural competitive instincts and winning ways. I was fascinated to read about the
intrigue of the racetracks, the tough and dangerous lives of the jockeys, and especially the play-by-play action
of specific races, like the match race between Seabiscuit and Triple-Crown winner War Admiral. Hillenbrand details
a world I knew very little about before reading this book. I learned
of the importance of the relationship between the jockey and the horse, and that a horse race involves strategies
that start way before the actual race and continue to develop right up until the horses cross the finish line, and
that a race horse might need stablemates who provide a calming influence, in Seabiscuit's case an old horse named
Pumpkin, a dog, and a spiker-monkey. The book was made into a movie
- Catch Me If You Can – Frank W. Abagnale, with Stan Redding
- This is the thrilling autobiography of one of the most incredible con men in modern history. Frank Abagnale
details his notorious escapades which he carried out for five years in the 1960s in all 50 states and 26 countries
until he was finally caught and imprisoned. I remember hearing about several of his capers (putting his account
number on the deposit slips in the bank lobby, and the "OUT
OF ORDER" sign on the night depository) but I didn't realize they were the work of the same
individual. His primary scam was cashing fraudulent checks ("paperhanging") by which he acquired $2.5
million. He was also very successful at his impersonations of an airline pilot (for years he rode for free in the
cockpit of airliners as an off-duty copilot), a doctor (he administrated the pediatric unit of an Atlanta hospital
for a year), a lawyer (this high school dropout actually passed the Louisiana bar exam to work as a prosecutor in
the state Attorney General's office), and a college professor (he taught a summer course in sociology at BYU).
This fascinating book was made into a movie in 2002. Ironically (or
perhaps logically) Frank now heads up a firm, Abagnale & Associates,
that specializes in fraud prevention.
- Divided We Stand – Eric Darton
- This erudite biography of the World Trade Center in New York includes a history of the Port Authority, who built
the WTC. It is a fascinating account of the battles between the development side (the Port Authority, David and
Nelson Rockefeller) and the existing merchants who would be displaced. Darton is a native New Yorker who witnessed
this entire decades-long episode in the history of the development of Lower Manhattan. Ironically, though this
book came out in 1999, the title and battleground theme of the cover makes it look like a story about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- Miles: The Autobiography - Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe
- Miles always marched to his own beat in contemporary music, and he
was always inspired by new and younger musicians. His music continuously evolved, so his response to people asking
him to play something he had recorded years before was "I tell them to go buy the record. I'm not there in that
place any longer and I have to live for what is best for me and not what's best for them." He reveals a lot of
fascinating details about the recording sessions and tours he did over the years, and the musicians he played
with. Miles had a public persona, so it is interesting to hear about his private life from his perspective.
Miles' language is a little rough at times, but out of respect Troupe chooses to leave his words uncensored, like
- Ball Four – Jim Bouton
- When this hilarious baseball tell-all came out in 1970 it was ripped apart by the baseball establishment with
cries that it was all lies. Bouton, who pitched for the Yankees and several other teams in his career from
1962-1978, writes about life in the locker rooms, dugouts, and bullpens that is not seen by the fans. His wit is
very sharp and I laughed continuously while reading it. Bouton's honesty helps take some of the players off their
pedestals and shows us that they are just human beings, with the same insecurities as the rest of us, and engaged
in some of the same crazy activities. Besides his sense of humor, I admire Bouton for his beliefs. For more about
the book and Bouton, check out
"Ball Four by Jim Bouton".
- Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
- In May, 1996, more than a dozen expeditions climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest where 12 climbers
were killed in a blinding blizzard. Krakauer was one of the survivors and he tells the story
in sobering detail. I found this book very difficult to put down. Another best-seller by
the author is Into the Wild.
- Prozac Nation – Elizabeth Wurtzel
- In spite of her severe clinical depression (and with the help of psychopharmacology), Wurtzel is articulate and
witty, and I find her book strangely charming. She was criticized by some reviewers for
being overly self-indulgent, but this is her autobiography and I think it should be told that way.
Of the external influences on her life she says, "I was like an already overspiced stew, and
all the chefs adding all their condiments were only making it more foggy and muddled and bad." With one Catholic
parent and one Jewish parent, Wurtzel says, ". . . the difference between Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt is that the
former emanates from the knowledge that we are all born already fallen, that there is nothing we can ever do to
overcome the original sin; the latter springs from a sense that everyone of us was created from God's image and has the
potential for perfection. So Catholic guilt is about impossibility and Jewish guilt is about an abundance of possibility."
The theme of this book is reminiscent of I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon.
- Outrage – Vincent Bugliosi
- Subtitled "The Five Reasons Why O.J.Simpson Got Away With Murder". Bugliosi is disgusted with the way the
L.A. prosecutors handled the Simpson case. If he hadn't used Outrage as the
title of this book it would have been a good title for None Dare Call
It Treason, his scathing article in The Nation about the
U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave George W. Bush the 2000 presidential election.
He used The Nation article as the basis for a book, The Betrayal of America.
Bugliosi was the prosecutor of Charles Manson, and his book about
that case, Helter Skelter, was a best-seller.
- Liar's Poker – Michael Lewis
- The first in a series of books I read several years ago about incidents in the financial world. While I'm not a
big follower of the stock market, there have been some very interesting Wall Street stories.
Other books I enjoyed include:
The Predators' Ball
Barbarians at the Gate
Burrough & John Helyar
||Stephen Pizzo, Mary Fricker, & Paul Muolo
- Be True to Your School – Bob Greene
(I still like his writing in spite of his troubles)
- Bob Greene grew up in Ohio and became a writer and journalist (Chicago Tribune). This is the first book of
several I've read by him and it really grabbed me because it was a biography of his life during his high school
years in the 60s (my era). One of his more recent books is Hang Time, about Michael Jordan.
- Second Wind – Bill Russell
- I love sports biographies, especially autobiographies. Bill Russell's memoirs are thoroughly enjoyable.
It's remarkable to hear him describe how he developed his defensive style by replaying in his head the game he had just played.
Being left-handed, Russell mentally practiced mirroring the moves of a right-handed player and learned to block shots.
- The Reckoning – David Halberstam
- This book traces the histories of Ford and Toyota, the number 2 auto makers in the USA and Japan at the time he
wrote it (1986). Halberstam is one of my favorite authors and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vietnam War
for The New York Times.
- Insanely Great – Steven Levy
- This is the story of the Macintosh computer. I found it particularly amusing when I read how Steve Jobs and others
from Apple were inspired by a visit to the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) labs in 1979. PARC is the place
where many of the things we take for granted in the computer world were developed, like the mouse, pop-up windows,
many word-processing features (including Copy, Cut, Paste, Undo), and using bit-mapping for screen
graphics. Levy is a regular contributor of technical articles to Newsweek and has written several other
- Where Wizards Stay Up Late – Katie Hafner / Matthew Lyon
- This book follows the development of the ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet. The book is filled with stories of incredibly
intelligent people. You will learn how the @ symbol was put in the email address, hear some interesting early flaming stories,
how the Ethernet came about, and read about the early debates over Net privacy and censorship in the message groups.
- The Cuckoo's Egg – Cliff Stoll
- Stoll's first person account of monitoring a hacker as he attempts to break into US military computers is as thrilling as
fiction. This occurs in the late 1980s when trust was all that was used for computer security, and Stoll is mighty frustrated
when he tries to enlist the help of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Air Force OSI but they don't seem to want to get involved unless he
can show a substantial amount of money or classified information was stolen. Ironically, after writing such a great
Internet-espionage thriller, Stoll has become disgruntled with cyberspace and the way computers have infiltrated America's schools.
Other books about hackers I've read include:
|| (1996) -
||Tsutomu Shimomura (with John Markoff)
The Fugitive Game
|| (1997) -
|| (1995) -
||Katie Hafner and John Markoff
The Cyberthief and
| (1996) -
The Hacker Crackdown
|| (1994) -
Masters of Deception
|| (1999) -
||Michelle Slatalla and Joshua Quittner
|| (1994) -
- The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe (I also review Wolfe under Fiction)
- A definitive documentation of the hedonism of the hippie generation, Wolfe's 1968 book follows the psychedelic
exploits of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and their
cross-country journey in a wildly painted school bus. I read this book when it came out and it had a tremendous influence on my lifestyle
in the late 60s.