An ambitious overview that ultimately falls flat.



A wide-ranging look at politically motivated information leaks and the activists behind them.

In late 2010, Forbes technology reporter Greenberg sat down with the notorious Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. The resulting interview has been viewed nearly 1 million times on the Forbes website and served as a launching pad for Greenberg’s debut book. While the author scatters details of Assange and WikiLeaks throughout the book, Greenberg has larger aims: to catalogue “a revolutionary protest movement bent not on stealing information, but on building a tool that inexorably coaxes it out, a technology that slips inside of institutions and levels their defenses like a Trojan horse of cryptographic software and silicon.” With this in mind, the author examines the lives and work of numerous cryptographers, hackers and whistleblowers—some well-known (e.g., Daniel Ellsberg, who first leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971) and some considerably less so (Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Icelandic activist and member of parliament who is behind a push for greater freedom of information there). However, the book bounces between these often-unrelated biographies so frequently that readers get only a vague sense of each person’s character. A chapter on the hacker group Anonymous, for example, is based in large part on information from a defunct website and is especially hazy; readers will likely find better information in the recently published We Are Anonymous, by Parmy Olson, who, unlike Greenberg, actually interviewed Anonymous members. Overall, the book’s biggest flaw is that its scope is simply too wide. Greenberg valiantly attempts to cover the big picture of information leaks around the globe, but due to the overwhelming cast of characters—as well as some rather dull descriptions of how online cryptography works—the book never fully coalesces.

An ambitious overview that ultimately falls flat.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-95320-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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