Of considerable interest to followers of technological trends, futurists, and investors.

FACEBOOK

THE INSIDE STORY

Wired editor at large and longtime tech reporter Levy (In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, 2011, etc.) explores the inner workings of the social media giant.

While attending Harvard, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg “took a laissez-faire attitude toward classes” while deep within projects such as Course Match, which allowed students to see who was signed up for which classes—good for those seeking candidates for a winning study group, one might say, but also a fine tool for a stalker. Levy explores the morally neutral world that Zuckerberg built with Facebook, an enterprise whose every technological feature disguises means to gather salable data on the user’s movements, preferences, political leanings, and the like. Those features, of course, have put Facebook very much in the news as a vehicle for delivering “fake news.” As one advertising executive noted, looking at the growth of “ruble-denominated accounts” surrounding the 2016 presidential election, “it was one hundred percent knowable that [the Russians] would use social media in this way.” Defending himself in the wake of the massive data mining undertaken by companies such as Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg has retreated behind the shield of free expression, though belatedly acknowledging that consumers might not want their private data to be so easily accessed. “For the past twelve years,” writes Levy of the choice between more or less privacy, “Zuckerberg had been ranking those values incorrectly.” For all his criticisms, the author, who enjoyed free access to Zuckerberg, is less dismissive of Facebook and its intentions than Roger McNamee, whose book Zucked (2019) condemns the company’s demonstrated disregard for its users’ rights. If changes for the better come, they’ll likely be grudging. Levy makes it clear that Zuckerberg believes in the essential benefit to the world of his mission even if he is “the man who some think has done as much destruction to that world as anyone in the business realm.”

Of considerable interest to followers of technological trends, futurists, and investors.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1315-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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 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

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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

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