An entertaining read but 20 years too late.




A behind-the-scenes look at the rise and eventual plateauing of Novell, one of the stars of the microcomputing era.

White presents a readable account of how this unusual company, largely run by Mormons from a small town in Utah, invented the local area network (LAN) and grew into a worldwide information-technology powerhouse. There are little-known facts, such as the odd way the company got its name. The wife of one of the founders thought the name should be “Novell.” Her husband thought it meant “new” in French, but the other founder said then it should correctly be spelled “nouveau” or “nouvelle.” Interestingly, they both decided to leave it as is. There is the back story about how the company created its flagship product, NetWare. Management’s dissatisfaction with its slow-selling terminal computer and desire to split a hard disk among several terminal computer units led to the development of a local area network, and Novell created the software to support it. There is political intrigue as Craig Burton and Judith Clarke, two of the company’s top leaders, leave the company after learning of a “management review” by Novell president Ray Noorda, who names another long-time employee as his successor. White does a fine job relating the ups and downs of a company beset by the problems typical of a high-growth, high-tech startup going through a tumultuous evolution driven by changes in technology and management mishaps. The book is well-written and entertaining, keeping the reader engaged in the story of Novell. However, this is very old news, presenting a historical perspective on a single company that may be too narrow and outdated for most readers. The book is likely to interest students of the early days of the personal computer, or information-technology junkies who are curious about how Novell got its start. But for the average reader, the work may come across as a nostalgic look back that is of limited interest.

An entertaining read but 20 years too late.

Pub Date: July 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1452023038

Page Count: 242

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2010

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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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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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