The Book in 1 Sentence
A book about a 80s hacker group that ends in a political support article that makes the book a complete waste of time.
Joseph Menn spent so much time talking all about the different prominent members of CdC in both their technical and humanitarian efforts that you really can feel the impact they have left in the world. However, the end of the book is completely devoted to a singular person in a hero-worship political puff piece that walks back most of the rest of the book by highlighting there political actions and none of their technical/humanitarian efforts prior to running for office outside of a side comment.
Why I Read this book
As I work in the cybersecurity world, I know a lot of these names and the aftermath of the efforts they made in their careers and would love to be on that level. Reading this book was a great case study of where the industry was.
I am about to torch this book. I knew going in that it was going to name a political figure as part of the group but I expected it to talk about the technical work or industry changes they made, but no. It legit was a brown nose political stunt that only points toward their political actions and their political points of view that have NOTHING to do with the cyber world. Menn even admits to providing the draft to the papers in an effort to help the politician. While in general, people are welcome to do that, don't taught this person as a "hacker" because they do things differently.
There is no cohesion to the book at all the more I think about it. Bouncing between time to time, when the most sensible thing to do would be to tell a history or move from one major player to another. However, Menn constantly brings people back into the light to expand chapters that don't need to be extended other than publicist requirements.
I think was is most upsetting about this book is the idea that these people did so much for the cyber world and most of their major accomplishments are just footnotes for the book, but play a bigger role in the industry. Take for instance their outing of Microsoft's vulnerability practices, which are happening again, and their product L0phtCrack. These 2 things set the industry on fire back in the day and has lead to a multitude of people following suit. L0phtCrack is still used today and in fact it was the FIRST password cracker I used in my learning of breaking hashes. It is a great tool, but a footnote because Menn decided to discuss the politics of the group and WikiLeaks more than the work they provided.
I don't honestly think this book did anything to support the group other than to bring their name back into people mouths for the 15 minutes of fame the politician got from it. The fact that he didn't win and this group went back to the shadows just like him is exactly why this book flopped as well.
How my life / behavior / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.
I told you I was going to torch this book and while writing this, I could feel myself calming down because people have already forgotten about it and the group. The book is a waste of time unless you are a die hard fan of the politician and want to "see where he came from" but only want a one sided view. I am giving a 4 because there is interesting information presented in there, however it is presented like a person with ADHD trying to explain why dinos are cools to an Math major who thinks dinos are fake, the earth is flat, and the world is a simulation. Don't waste your time.