Three well-written but fleeting vignettes from some of the darkest edges of the internet.




Three intriguing pieces of journalism about the new threats of a digital age.

O’Hagan (The Illuminations, 2015, etc.) is known as a three-time Man Booker Prize–nominated novelist, but he’s also a razor-sharp London-based reporter, as evidenced by these three stories from “the wild west of the Internet, before policing or a code of decency.” His subjects are diverse and mostly well-known. In the first, “Ghosting,” the author describes how he assumed the unenviable position of ghostwriting the autobiography/manifesto of Julian Assange, the infamously imperiled WikiLeaks founder. “It needs to be more like Ayn Rand,” said Assange during one of their strange meetings. “I don’t know if I can help you with that,” was the author’s straightforward reply. Describing his subject as “a cornered animal,” O’Hagan delivers a troubling portrait of paranoia, trespasses, and consequences that feels unique because of the writer’s unique proximity to his subject. The second work, “The Invention of Ronald Pinn,” is equally dark, chronicling O’Hagan’s successful attempt to create a real identity for a long-dead man. He succeeded in generating an income with Bitcoins and buying heroin and counterfeit money online. “To the moderators of Silk Road or Agora,” writes the author, “the world is an inchoate mass of desires and deceits, and everything that exists can be bought or sold, including selfhood, because to them freedom means stealing power back from the state, or God, or Apple, or Freud. To them, life is a drama in which power rubs out one’s name; they are anonymous, ghosts in the machine, infiltrating and weakening the structures of the state and partying as they do, causing havoc, encrypting who they are.” The third story, “The Satoshi Affair,” finds O’Hagan tapped to reveal the identity of Craig Wright, an awkward Australian computer scientist, as “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the cryptic inventor of Bitcoin, only to find that even his real subjects can be frauds after all.

Three well-written but fleeting vignettes from some of the darkest edges of the internet.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-27791-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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