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Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier [Hardcover]

Katie Hafner , John Markoff
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

26 Sep 1991
At the peak of his hacking career Kevin penetrated and disrupted the top-secret research group of one of America's leading computer manufacturers. Pengo simply wanted to be the best "outlaw" hacker in the world but the German authorities took a dim view of his selling copied software to the Russians. Robert Harris wanted to test computer security but instead brought down America's most sensitive research and military computer networks. Using these three cases the authors society's vulnerability to electronic sabotage and set out to demonstrate that although mischievously innocent so far, hackers could become a real threat in the electronic age.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 1st ed. edition (26 Sep 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1872180949
  • ISBN-13: 978-1872180946
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,623,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Very good book. Enjoyable & Interesting.
What every hacker or computer buff should read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sterile collection of facts 18 Feb 2001
By Adam Luoranen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
To me, what makes this book different from most other "hacker documentary" books is the detached style in which it's written. The authors are both journalists, and it shows: The book lacks the warmth of a normal story told from a normal storywriter. Instead, it's a cold, sterile collection of facts, like a 300-page newspaper article.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the writing is kind of dry. But that doesn't make it boring. Indeed, most of the book is quite fascinating. In fact, after a while I began to appreciate the objective air that this style lent to the book: Most authors of this kind of book either try to be sympathetic to the crackers, representing them as harmless kids who only try to explore, or an evil menace which must be destroyed for our own safety. Markoff and Hafner, however, write with the unbiased, unopinionated journalism that befits people of their background.
Of course, when writing a book, you don't need to express opinions to make the text biased; You just need to present only one side of the facts. However, I do not feel that this is the case with this book. The book does not try to represent one side as good and the other bad. It just tells you something about both. There's both good and bad there.
So what's with all the people who say that the book is "biased"? I'm really not sure. I notice, however, that all of the people who say that are pointing specifically to Kevin Mitnick's case, and recommending Littman's "The Fugitive Game" (which is more sympathetic to Mitnick and his case) as a "better" book. The only reason I can figure for this is that the FREE KEVIN people are upset because the book does not agree with their ideals that Kevin is innocent and should be praised for being a "hacker". Sounds to me like those reviewers, and not the authors, are the ones with the personal bias.
SCREW KEVIN. He overstepped the line and went too far when he should have known better. Yes, his case has been mismanaged, but... But, I digress. Anyway. This book is not the be-all, end-all for learning about the hack/phreak culture (it's only three case studies, after all), but it's a good place to start if you've never familiarized yourself with that culture before. And even if you have, you'll probably find some tidbits here you didn't know. Score one for investigative journalism.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining, But Only Half The Story 27 Nov 1998
By Robert Carlberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book last summer and enjoyed it immensely. It's very well-written.
However, having just finished Jonathan Littman's "The Fugitive Game" I have to recommend reading both books to get the full story. Markoff's conflicts-of-interest and questionable journalistic practices aren't apparent from reading just "Cyberpunk." What appears to be a non-fiction account is, in reality, more complicated than that.... You really owe it to yourself to read both sides of the story.
So read this book and enjoy it for what it is -- and then read Littman for another perspective.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars On the Outside Looking In. 13 Jan 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although Markoff is an exceptional writer and the book is both easy to read and entertaining, the content is presented as factual when the truth is that these guys definitely wrote the book with only part of the whole story at their disposal. One of the main "cyberpunks" depicted in the book is Kevin Mitnick, who claims that he has never even met John Markoff. How can the book fairly and accurately speak to the topic of hacking during the early days of the Internet revolution when they never did any investigations with real "hackers"? The story is told only from a law enforcement point-of-view. I am sure that the Rodney King story is told differently by King than the LAPD. Same goes for this case.
Like many works today that seem to be written for financial reasons, it seems very one-sided and sensational.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate, unengaging, and wildly libelous 7 July 2002
By Gabriel Rasa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
First off, John Markoff does NOT tell an unbiased story, especially regarding the Mitnick case. Kevin Mitnick, preferring to keep a low profile, has not promoted his own story, and as a result he has had his name slandered by mediawhores like Markoff. Markoff traveled extensively with Tsutomu Shimomura, the security expert who eventually (and with much government aid) apprehended Mitnick. It is quite clear whose side he is on as he repeatedly demonizes Mitnick as a fat, malicious, juvenile person with no self-control and no respect for anyone else. This typecasting is quite understandable though, once you know that Markoff has a share in the Miramax movie Takedown that details Mitnick's capture. Nobody wants to see such unfair treatment happen to a real, sympathetic person. (Takedown, incidentally, is more slanderous than Cyberpunk and from which the real Kevin Mitnick, whom it is based on, is not getting a dime).
But apart from my distaste for Markoff, this book still failed to be a interesting read. I enjoy reading about the early history of hacking, etc, so I bought it with high hopes. The only reason I didn't put it down was because it was my only reading material on a six hour bus trip. The Internet revolution was fascinating and the people involved in it were interesting, dynamic people. But to hear Markoff tell it, everyone was petty, whining, insecure, and one-dimensional, with no other motivation than to cause trouble for others. He hasn't got a gift for writing novels with well-rounded and interesting characters that the reader can actually sympathize with and care about.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book, well written, easy to flowing, best I've read 16 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the type of book that you will want to read and read again...it is a real page turner and it tells 3 stories of famous hacker cases...I really enjoyed this book...I recommend this to anyone that enjoys computers and the adventures that go with them...
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