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The Plot to Get Bill Gates Paperback – 1 Aug 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books; First Printing edition (1 Aug. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070438129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704381292
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 14 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,050,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

Taking on the Pretty Boys of High Tech
This book began with a facetious line delivered after a friend asked me how I'd sum up all that was going on in Silicon Valley. It was early in 1997, and at that point I was spending all of my time writing about the Valley, for San Francisco magazine and as a contributing writer for Upside. Ironically, though the eyes of the nation were on Silicon Valley, in the Valley all eyes seemed diverted northward to Redmond; Bill Gates's name was on everyone's lips. "It's all just a plot to get Bill Gates," I said to my friend. "A plot by everyone to prove themselves bigger, better, and smarter than this dislikable, slop-shouldered tyrant from Redmond." At that point I had been a journalist for more than 15 years. As a staff writer for an alternative weekly, I had covered Chicago's City Hall through most of the 1980s (resulting in the book, Fire on the Prairie), and I had spent several years as a street reporter on the youth violence beat (resulting in the book Drive-By). But by 1994, when I finished writing Drive-By, I was ready for a change. And just a short drive from my home was this stretch of land that, with the sudden surge of widespread interest in the Internet, was ground zero. In the mid '70s, I had spent a great deal of time in my high school's computer room attempting to master BASIC. I had started college as an engineering major--until switching out after getting interested in writing and in politics. But now it seemed journalism and my long dormant technical bent had merged. I dove whole hog into high tech, with an ingrained distrust for hype and hypocrisy while also bringing to the task a strong sense of narrative. I cranked out articles for a variety of publications while simultaneously searching for the story line that I thought would serve as the backbone for a book bringing readers into this era-defining business battle. I see myself first and foremost as a storyteller. And so my aim with this book is to present an entertaining and compelling tale that helps the general interest reader and industry veteran alike gain insights into the nature of competition in computerdom and the larger-than-life personalities who rule this world. In a nutshell, The Plot to Get Bill Gates is a story of obsession: obsession with money, obsession with the Big Strike, but mainly obsession with Bill Gates, the world's richest man and therefore the object of envy, attention, and resentment the world over. To my mind it's a tale of obsession worthy of Melville, where a long line of Captains of Industries have taken turns playing the role of Captain Ahab, ostentatious in their hate for Gates--the Great White Whale. The more he is attacked, the angrier and meaner (and larger!) this whale grows. I hope you enjoy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book, published in 1999, is refreshingly free of the retrospective analysis post-dot-com-crash; celebrating The World as Brave and New. Rather than focussing on just a single individual as biographies do, Rivlin turns the spotlight instead on Bill Gates' larger-than-life contemporaries Scott McNealy, Larry Ellison, and Steve Jobs too. What he excels in portraying is how these men and Gates fed off each other in obsessing "cutting off a competitor's air supply" and making "supergreat" products.

Rivlin, for sure, is a technology-beat journalist who may not understand the intricacies of software development but to his credit - beyond the perfunctory introductions to any technical topic - he politely steps aside and lets people who do understand express their opinion. This approach might appear biased to you, depending on whose Kool-Aid you have drunk; ultimately though you have to admit that he does a good job of balancing stories from highly polarised camps. Those who demonize Bill Gates will cry out that this book borders on trying hard to restrain itself from fawning over him - but then I think it's a carefully calculated result arising out how people envied and hated Gates (and still do). In that sense, the tone of the book mirrors reality a lot.

The amount of research put into the book clearly shows. I have heard many wildly unbelievable tales over the years - so has Gary Rivlin, of course, and he tackles this by chasing down the 'original' source of each apocryphal story, often with results that tend to indicate that they were manufactured. Again, Rivlin shows great restraint in hardly ever calling anyone a liar outright, preferring to let the reader draw his own conclusions based on the evidence presented.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
Another book about Bill Gates and his empire you might ask. That's the thought I had when I first saw this book. But dive deeper and you will read about other people whose lives depending on or competiting against Bill Gates et al, which are generously described in this book, from IBM to the Internet. A must read for those who wants to be kept updated on the fastest-growing industry.
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Format: Hardcover
Finally someone has written a book that captures the human drama of the computer wars and the generals who have fought it. For someone who only uses a computer (fully equiped with Microsoft products) and only vaguely remembers names like WordPerfect, Borland, and Novell, I had no idea the world of technology geeks could be filled with such tragedy, hilarity, macho, shallowness, casualties, and intrigue. From Bill Gates' tragic squeezing of his own friend and partner, to Sun Microsystem's Chief Technology Officer being mocked by a "Terminator" pin ball machine repeating "hasta la vista, baby" during pep talks to his staff, to the facial ticks that plaqued the developers of Java, this book captures the icons of our era in their all too human glory. Not since "A Civil Action" have I read a work of non-fiction so captivating.
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By A Customer on 22 Aug. 1999
Format: Hardcover
You will feel like you were a fly on the walls for the past decade in the fast paced fields of computer software and the internet. While others have tackled this topic, Rivlin's strict attention to the details and facts, his unwillingness to be swayed by anecdotes, plus his ability to retell a story, make for a more enjoyable fast read on a variety of levels. These corporate leaders are not driven by altruistic pursuits for the betterment of mankind, these are businesses run by highly influential men driven by money, ego and power. I now chuckle at PR fluff stories about Gates, Ellison and McNeally in magazines and newspapers. This book is so timely it seems as if it was written days, not months ago - the author's conclusions are constantly being validated by the daily headlines. Can't wait for his next book! Enjoy it.
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By A Customer on 29 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm surprised at the one-star review comments, and wonder if those authors are not Micro$oft weenies. I found this book to be highly entertaining, quite funny although it doesn't seem to be written by an experienced professional. The writing style is quite refreshing in a way, Rivlin does not resort to stuffiness and presents his work in ways which geek and non-geek readers could understand. It's a pity there wasn't more information on Linux and Open Source which truly has Micro$oft running scared and this for me was the main disappointment. Had Rivlin included the infamous Halloween Documents (do a web search on that), I might have given this book a better review as the Halloween Docs present excellent facts on Micro$soft agenda.
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By A Customer on 24 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
Reading an advance copy of the book sent out by the publisher, this has to be the worst attempt to capitalize on the subject of Bill Gates in the history of book publishing. It's a bunch of drivel, to put it mildly. Gary Rivlin has done no reporting on Microsoft of any importance and has never broken a news story in his life-- and suddenly he presents himself as being in a position to know something about the subject? Educated readers will laugh at this book. Don't waste your money. Read "Gates" by Stephen Manes instead, or more recently, "The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates" by Wendy Goldman Rohm, an excellent piece of indepth reporting and analysis.
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