A page-turning real-life thriller, the sort of book that may leave readers feeling both invigorated and vulnerable.

BREAKING AND ENTERING

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF A HACKER CALLED "ALIEN"

A novelistic tech tale that puts readers on the front lines of cybersecurity.

For all whose lives and connections depend on the internet—nearly everyone—this biography of the pseudonymous “Alien” provides a fast-paced cautionary tale. Smith (Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients., 2015, etc.) has enough experience as a computer programmer to understand the technicalities of this world, but his storytelling makes it intelligible to general readers; indeed, the narrative is more character-driven than technology-driven. The book requires a few leaps of faith—not only that Alien is who the author says she is, but that she can so vividly recount events and conversations that happened years before she met the author. The story begins with Alien at MIT. Lacking focus and direction, she was drawn to a hacking community in a time when the term could extend from picking locks to taking drugs and didn’t become more focused on technology until computers became more central to society. The hackers often lived more adventurous lives than many students, and Alien experienced plenty of casual sex, drug use, and a few tragic casualties along the way. She graduated from hacking computer systems to helping protect them from hackers at a time when “Corporations from Microsoft and Cisco on down had begun hiring hackers of their own to help defend themselves against other hackers.” Some worked one side of the fence, some worked the other, and some straddled the line and were capable of “going rogue.” Smith goes into great detail to demonstrate how Alien could penetrate the security of whomever was employing her, showing how a real criminal would do it, and makes fearfully clear that there is “no such thing as absolute security in this world, or any definitive and final fixes.” Alien now runs a small hacking company that assists with security for banks, governments, and other organizations.

A page-turning real-life thriller, the sort of book that may leave readers feeling both invigorated and vulnerable.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-90321-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

Did you like this book?

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

NIGHT

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?

more