An important, disturbing, and gripping history arguing convincingly that, as of 2015, no defense exists against a...




For centuries, spies could only listen to enemy communications. In this thoughtful, opinionated history, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist warns that in today’s cyberage, “once they hacked a computer, they could prowl the entire network…they could not only read and download scads of information, they could change its contents—disrupt, corrupt, or erase it—and mislead or disorient the officials who relied on it.”

In the 1983 movie, WarGames, a teenager unwittingly hacks into the United States’ defense system, nearly causing World War III. One viewer, an alarmed President Ronald Reagan, commissioned a groundbreaking 1984 directive giving our largest intelligence agency, the National Security Agency, responsibility for securing computer networks. Then the issue basically vanished for a decade. Soviet technology was far behind America’s. In the mid-1990s, teenage hackers broke into American military computers, and a Russian intelligence agency did the same, so the issue was revived. Experts agreed that attack is the best defense, and Slate “War Stories” columnist Kaplan (The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, 2013, etc.) delivers an eye-opening account of the dawn of cyberwar in 1995, when the air war in Serbia was won through crippling of its air defenses by information warfare. A decade later, the Stuxnet computer worm wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, a triumph of digital skulduggery but perhaps an act of war. Though enthusiasts ignore the implications, Kaplan does not. Iranian hackers are inflicting expensive revenge, and a Chinese government agency is devoted to extracting useful information from American computers. Readers may take comfort knowing that we have the capacity to do the same.

An important, disturbing, and gripping history arguing convincingly that, as of 2015, no defense exists against a resourceful cyberattack.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6325-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Did you like this book?