This is the first attempt to tell the remarkable story of Stewart Brand - one of the most influential men of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. And it achieves it brilliantly.
The story is book-ended by two important publications - Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Kevin Kelly's Wired magazine.
In the former, set in San Francisco in the mid 'sixties, Brand joined Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters in their search for the alternative consciousness and sense of community provided by LSD and a variety of mind altering chemical and technological stimulants.
In the latter, the action moves out to the Bay Area and we see Brand, Kelly and the electro-hippies seeking their own escape from the hierarchies of control in what they saw as the coming digital utopia.
In between, Turner displays a masterful command of the popular culture and technological landscape that Brand so nimbly traversed. In one of the many excellent reviews this book receives on Amazon.com, someone describes Brand as 'Zelig-like'. Yet, in the Woody Allen movie, Zelig was an incidental observer at landmark events. Brand, however, was aways a major player - absorbing new ideas, seeking and making connections where none appeared to exist and, most importantly, making things happen.
From Kesey's bus to organising the Trips Festival that kicked off San Francisco's Summer of Love; from the breakthrough demonstration of the moveable mouse interface to the launch of The Whole Earth Catalog (which Steve Jobs described as the offline www); from WELL, the first real working computer network to the launch of Wired, Brand was at the very centre of events that have shaped our world.
Turner chronicles the extraordinary journey of this restless soul: the fortunes he gave away, the setbacks he suffered and the people he inspired. And Turner does it with a rare eye for detail and nice line in wry humour. Which means he is absolutely thorough (there are 27 pages of notes and 21 pages of bibliography) but never, ever dull.
Buy this book right now and learn about the man who, to this day, is trying to change the world we live in.