A powerful, engrossing look at race and technology.



A memoir/social history of a trailblazing father, his headstrong son, and their struggles with racism in the tech industry.

In 1971, Ford (Whiskey Gulf, 2009, etc.) followed his pioneering father’s footsteps through the doors of IBM. Nearly three decades earlier, the elder Ford had become the company’s first black systems engineer, handpicked by the president and founder of the company, Thomas J. Watson Sr. But where his father was a conformist, seemingly unwilling to challenge the racism at the ultraconservative company, the rebellious author, then 19, showed up for work with “a ballooned Afro, pork chop sideburns [and] a blue zoot suit with red pinstripes.” Ford chronicles both his and his father’s careers, from the dawn of the digital age that his father's expertise helped usher in. Frequently at odds, the two men disagreed about Clyde’s future, the war in Vietnam, and the civil rights movement. A masterful storyteller, Ford interweaves his personal story with the backdrop of the social movements unfolding at that time, providing a revealing insider’s view of the tech industry. IBM’s storied past is not without blemish. Ford details the company’s involvement with the Nazis during the Holocaust and with the South African government under apartheid. Whether recounting the domestic drama that played out between his parents or how his father taught him to program IBM’s first computer as a kid, Ford provides a simultaneously informative and entertaining narrative. He delves into historical and contemporary intersections of race, history, and technology to show that technical advancements are never completely bias-free because they are driven by humans, who are inherently biased. Ultimately, Ford learned that his father did challenge the system at IBM in covert but lasting ways. He also gives a call to action to readers to challenge the current lack of diversity in tech as well as the racism that technology is used to perpetuate in society at large.

A powerful, engrossing look at race and technology.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289056-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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