A singular and entertaining tech account.


A debut biography/memoir tells the story of Silicon Valley outlaw Captain Crunch.

Draper, once known by the pseudonym Captain Crunch, is most famous for inventing “the little blue box,” a homemade piece of phone-hacking equipment that allowed users to make calls anywhere in the world for free. (Two of the people he shared his invention with were youngsters Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who briefly manufactured and sold a version of the box.) But Draper’s career and influence went far beyond this early innovation of the Phone Phreak movement. Working as a contractor for the company that Jobs and Wozniak went on to found—a little outfit called Apple Computer, Inc.—Draper developed the first word processor. Later, as a thought leader of the internet privacy movement, he created the first working firewall. A prankster, rabble-rouser, and eventual activist, he landed himself in prison several times during the 1970s and ’80s for his hacking activities, leading many figures in Silicon Valley to hold him at a distance. With the help of Fraser, Draper is now telling his story for the first time: the inventions, the police busts, the parties, and the chance encounters in a world populated by tech entrepreneurs and countercultural freaks. Fraser’s frame narration, which is primarily set in the recent past and follows the composition of the book, is sharp and readable. But it is the sections narrated by Draper himself where the real meat is, even if these are rendered in his simple prose. Here he describes his activities after being released from jail one time: “We headed back up to San Jose. I had to report to my probation officer. I hooked up with Woz again when I got back up to Silicon Valley. He had built a few more complete Apple II prototypes.” The book’s self-aware structure and the prominence of Fraser as a character are peculiar choices, but a work about a figure as idiosyncratic as Draper is bound to be a bit odd. Anyone interested in the rise of the tech industry should be fascinated by the strange but influential role that Draper—Captain Crunch—played on its margins.

A singular and entertaining tech account.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 245

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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