A thoughtful, original, and thorough guide to cybersecurity.



McCarty draws from the techniques of feudal Japan’s ninja warriors in order to develop a complete cybersecurity plan.

The debut author, who once worked as a developer for the National Security Agency and was among the first class of Cyber Warfare Specialists to serve in the Army Network Warfare Battalion, observes that tight cybersecurity has never been more necessary or more difficult, as security specialists and their criminal counterparts are both constantly innovating—locked in what Accenture security research and development lead Malek Ben Salem, in a foreword, calls a “cyber arms race.” McCarty’s approach to the issue is as novel as it is illuminating, as it looks deep into the past. Deeply impressed by “ninja scrolls” written in the 17th century, which were essentially tactical manuals for espionage, he decided that the basic philosophy contained within them could be converted into a “practical cybersecurity field guide.” After more research, he concluded that ninja techniques were “essentially on-the-ground training in information assurance, security, infiltration, espionage, and destructive attacks that relied on covert access to heavily fortified organizations,” which, as a cybersecurity expert, he found highly familiar. At the heart of his strategy is what he calls the “castle theory thought exercise,” in which one pretends to be “the ruler of a medieval castle with valuable assets” and imagines various ways to defend the castle and anticipate invaders’ assaults. He provides a remarkably comprehensive tour of his subject, which is especially impressive for such a concise work that’s well under 300 pages. In it, he covers such topics as mapping networks and authentication and provides unconventional tips, as well; for example, he advises that one be wary of possible “hours of infiltration”—overly predictable routines that provide opportunities for attack.

The author has decades of credentialed experience in cybersecurity, and his professional background is evident throughout the book, which manages to convey his expertise in language that will be generally accessible to laypeople and immediately actionable. The running conceit of the work at first appears implausible—that warriors from a pre-technological era could teach modern readers something about cutting-edge cybersecurity. However, McCarty will convince skeptics, as he provides an elastic and forethoughtful approach to defense based on the warrior philosophy—one that involves constant improvisation and imagination to reveal every conceivable weakness in one’s cyberfortress. As he puts it in the book’s concluding chapter, his overriding message is that it’s always “critical to consume threat intelligence and respond against dynamic threats in innovative ways.” Along the way, he describes something far more aggressive than passive vigilance—a defensive approach that makes extensive use of historical anecdotes, such as a chapter that uses a small medieval village’s distrust of outsiders as an analogy for how permissions are established in a computer system. McCarty not only articulates the elements of his overall philosophy, but also explains its practical applications in rigorous detail, recommending “security controls and mitigations” and concluding every chapter with a helpful synopsis, or “debrief.”

A thoughtful, original, and thorough guide to cybersecurity.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-71850-054-9

Page Count: 264

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.


The acclaimed director displays his talents as a film critic.

Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful. The Oscar-winning director of classic films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs offers plenty of attitude with his thoughts on movies ranging from Animal House to Bullitt to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Big Chill. Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something. The concepts he smashes together in two sentences about Taxi Driver would take a semester of film theory class to unpack. Taxi Driver isn’t a “paraphrased remake” of The Searchers like Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a paraphrased remake of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill is a paraphrased remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. But it’s about as close as you can get to a paraphrased remake without actually being one. Robert De Niro’s taxi driving protagonist Travis Bickle is John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like. Perhaps not surprisingly, the author was raised by movie-loving parents who took him along to watch whatever they were watching, even if it included violent or sexual imagery. At the age of 8, he had seen the very adult MASH three times. Suddenly the dark humor of Kill Bill makes much more sense. With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras.

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-311258-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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