A sturdy, skillfully constructed work of business and technological history.

TROUBLEMAKERS

SILICON VALLEY'S COMING OF AGE

Looking back on Silicon Valley’s early years, when magic was brewing in the suburbs of the Bay Area.

Steve Jobs may have received most of the narrative oxygen coming out of Silicon Valley for the last quarter-century or so, with Elon Musk a close successor. However, as New York Times technology columnist Berlin (Project Historian/Stanford Univ. Silicon Valley Archives; The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley, 2005, etc.) writes in this vigorous account, the first days were the hardest—and, all in all, involved the most interesting players. At the center of her narrative is Bob Taylor, a sometimes-prickly computer scientist who “kick-started the precursor to the Internet, the Arpanet.” Though employed by Xerox for years, Taylor was committing to breaking “the stranglehold of mainframe computing” and evangelized for the vast possibilities of personal computers. Others picked up on his vision even as Taylor eventually broke with Xerox and early adapters discovered the many difficulties inherent in creating a useful PC. Mike Markkula, for one, worked quietly as Apple chairman to raise the quality and look of its products. “Markkula placed a high priority on first impressions,” writes Berlin, “so high that Jobs would later say that it was Markkula who taught him to do the same.” It’s noteworthy, as the author notes, that Markkula’s departure saw Apple grow increasingly lost in the wilderness throughout much of the 1980s and ’90s. Some of the other visionaries Berlin profiles include Sandra Kurtzig, the pioneering entrepreneur who was the first woman CEO to take a Silicon Valley company public, and Al Alcorn, who masterminded the video game “Pong.” Others earn less space but are no less influential, such as HP president John Young, who predicted in 1980 that Silicon Valley would replace manufacturing with research, thus making it the domain of “highly skilled professionals who can afford to live here”—which, of course, is just how things turned out.

A sturdy, skillfully constructed work of business and technological history.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4516-5150-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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