by Henry Charles Mishkoff
"Taubman Sucks!" follows in the footsteps of popular non-fiction books like Clifford Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg (Doubleday, 1989). It's a true story that involves the world of computers, but by no means is it a "computer book."
The Cuckoo's Egg is an account of an espionage incident that was accidentally brought to light by Stoll as he was trying to resolve a minor accounting discrepancy in a university computer lab. Similarly, "Taubman Sucks!" is the account of how Mishkoff "accidentally" made Internet legal history when all he wanted to do was to maintain a simple website with information about a shopping mall.
There are myriad other non-fiction books on the market in which computers and/or the Internet form the background of the action, but many of these books are really about larger issues. Some of these titles are listed below (the quotations are from reviews posted at Amazon.com).
Revolution in the Valley, Andy Hertzfeld (O'Reilly Media, 2004): "Written as a series of short blog-like entries, this book takes you on a unique behind-the-scenes look at what it was like building the original Mac. I found it a genuine and fascinating peek into both the 'birth of the Mac' and the emerging personal computer industry as a whole."
Crypto, Steven Levy (Diane Pub Co, 2003): "Crypto is about privacy in the information age and about the nerds and visionaries who, nearly twenty years ago, predicted that the Internet's greatest virtue free access to information was also its most perilous drawback: a possible end to privacy."
Black Ice, Dan Verton (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media; 2003): "Investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the global and financial implications are, the impact this has on privacy and civil liberties, and how to prepare for and prevent cyber attacks. Includes interviews and commentary from leading government authorities on national security, and from supporters of the al-Qaeda terrorist network."
The Art of Deception, Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon, and Steve Wozniak (Wiley, 2002): "The world's most infamous hacker offers an insider's view of the low-tech threats to high-tech security. In The Art of Deception, the world's most notorious hacker gives new meaning to the old adage, 'It takes a thief to catch a thief.'"
The Hacker Diaries, Dan Verton (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 2002): "Investigative reporter Dan Verton explores the questions surrounding the new national pastime for America's teenagers: computer hacking and web site defacement. Through interviews with FBI agents, criminal psychologists, law-enforcement officials, and some of the hackers themselves he explores questions such as who are these kids and what motivates them to strike."
The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, Alan Deutschman (Broadway, 2000): "From the acclaimed Vanity Fair and GQ journalist, an unprecedented, in-depth portrait of the man whose return to Apple precipitated one of the biggest turnarounds in business history."
Cybershock, Winn Schwartau (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2000): "One of the leading information security and electronic privacy experts in the United States, Schwartau here brings the perils of the Internet to life in an engaging style accessible to the average reader."
Fire in the Valley, Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine (McGraw-Hill Trade, 1999): "Fire in the Valley is an accurate, insightful, and often entertaining look at the many accidents and mistakes that eventually led to the computer you have on your desktop today. The history of the personal computer comprises a series of well-planned errors, with eccentric personalities floating from company to company, and geniuses so twisted they created for the sheer joy of it never imagining the multibillion dollar industry that would result."
Dealers of Lightning, Michael Hiltzik (Diane Pub Co, 1999): "The riveting story of the legendary Xerox PARC a collection of eccentric young inventors brought together by Xerox Corporation at a facility in Palo Alto, California, during the mind-blowing intellectual ferment of the seventies and eighties. Here for the first time Michael Hiltzik, a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, reveals in piercing detail the true story of the extraordinary group that aimed to bring about a technological dawn that would change the world and succeeded."
Apple Confidential, Owen Linzmayer (No Starch Press, 1999): "Apple Confidential examines the tumultuous history of America's best-known Silicon Valley start-up from its legendary founding almost 30 years ago, through a series of disastrous executive decisions, to its return to profitability, and including Apple's recent move into the music business."
Weaving the Web, Tim Berners-Lee (Harper San Francisco, 1999): "Berners-Lee offers insights to help readers understand the true nature of the Web, enabling them to use it to their fullest advantage. He shares his views on such critical issues as censorship, privacy, the increasing power of software companies in the online world, and the need to find the ideal balance between the commercial and social forces on the Web."
At Large, David H. Freedman and Charles C. Mann (Simon & Schuster, 1997): "At Large chronicles the massive manhunt that united hard-nosed FBI agents, computer nerds, and uptight security bureaucrats against an elusive computer outlaw who broke into highly secured computer systems at banks, universities, federal agencies, and top-secret military weapons-research sites. Hailed as 'a chilling portrait' by The Boston Globe and 'a crafty thriller' by Newsweek, this astonishing story of an obsessive hacker promises to change the way you look at the Internet forever."
The Watchman, Jonathan Littman (Little, Brown, 1997): "This is a first-rate detective story and all true. It's the story of a seemingly invincible electronic thief, con man, and stalker and the people who tracked him down. Jonathan Littman brings his readers straight into the world of cyberpunk crime as he shows the origins, development, and climax of the wildest and most audacious known crime spree in cyberspace."
The Fugitive Game, Jonathan Littman (Little Brown & Co, 1996): "The electronic adventure story that emerges reads like a spy thriller, but also raises questions about Internet security and tensions between constitutional rights of privacy and law enforcement."
Where Wizards Stay Up Late, Katie Hafner (Simon & Schuster, 1996): "Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone."
The Masters of Deception, Michelle Slatalla and Joshua Quittner (HarperCollins, 1995): "The funny, frightening and true tale of cyberwar between two hacker gangs, the Legion of Doom and the Masters of Deception a war that took place on YOUR phone network."
Microserfs, Douglas Coupland (HarperCollins, 1995): "Funny, illuminating and ultimately touching, Microserfs is the story of one generation's very strange and claustrophobic coming of age."
Insanely Great, Steven Levy (Viking Adult, 1994): "The creation of the Mac in 1984 catapulted America into the digital millennium, captured a fanatic cult audience, and transformed the computer industry into an unprecedented mix of technology, economics, and show business. Now veteran technology writer and Newsweek senior editor Steven Levy zooms in on the great machine and the fortunes of the unique company responsible for its evolution."
The Hacker Crackdown, Bruce Sterling (Bantam, 1992): "Bruce Sterling's classic work highlights the 1990 assault on hackers, when law-enforcement officials successfully arrested scores of suspected illicit hackers and other computer-based law-breakers. These raids became symbolic of the debate between fighting serious computer crime and protecting civil liberties."
Cyberpunk, Katie Hafner and John Markoff (Simon & Schuster, 1991): "Using the exploits of three international hackers, Cyberpunk provides a fascinating tour of a bizarre subculture populated by outlaws who penetrate even the most sensitive computer networks and wreak havoc on the information they find everything from bank accounts to military secrets. In a book filled with as much adventure as any Ludlum novel, the authors show what motivates these young hackers to access systems, how they learn to break in, and how little can be done to stop them."
Hackers, Steven Levy (Doubleday Books, 1984): "A wild and wooly romp through the little-known side of the True History of computers and the unsung heroes who, only for the glory of solving a problem or impressing their friends, brought us to the revolution/evolution of the Personal Computer."
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