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on 31 December 2015
With the rise of hackers in the media this book is a great read to realize what their world is about and how powerful they are.
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on 16 March 2017
Great and exciting story, with lots of technical details and human interest for geeks. I enjoyed it.
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on 17 June 2017
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on 6 November 2014
Great story and very good writing.
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on 27 April 2017
Very interesting but gets a bit boring after a while
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on 23 June 2017
Very good read
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on 30 May 2016
Great book, one of the best that I have read - at times it doesn't feel like an autobiography at all, it just feels like an action novel.
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When it comes to true crime, I'm pretty squeamish. Nothing violent, please. Clever and devious are what I'm looking for. Frank Abagnale's Catch Me If You Can: The True Story Of A Real Fake is one of the best, and it's hard not to compare any subsequent caper story to it.

Ghost in the Wires doesn't reach the level of audacity of Catch Me if You Can - impersonating technicians over the phone doesn't rise to the sheer nerve of a teenager impersonating an airline pilot or a doctor, as Abagnale did, and getting away with it. But Ghost in the Wires goes well beyond the adolescent bragfest of phone hacks that it could have been.

I think this is largely due to the co-writer, William L. Simon. Kevin Mitnick describes in his acknowledgments, how he and Simon argued over how detailed and technical the book should be, and apparently Simon prevailed. There's enough detail to explain how the scams were possible, but not so specific as to send the non-programmer into a hexadecimal stupor.

Another big plus is that many of the hacks depended as much on what Mitnick calls "social engineering" as on specialist knowledge. Unlike the stereotypical computer nerd, Mitnick was as comfortable and proficient at schmoozing people as he was writing code - he could talk his way into places that were restricted and convince people he was entitled to classified information. These were scams anyone can understand.

Mitnick also succeeds at not crossing the line from confident to insufferable, which is another pitfall of true crime tell-alls. Perhaps we can once again thank William Simon for this achievement.

I expected to skim this 400-page book but ended up reading every word. Mitnick was unbelievably audacious, and he says he never profited from his exploits. Knowing the risks (especially after he had already spent an unpleasant stretch in prison), how could he continue to risk getting caught again? He claims he was addicted to hacking, and while that seemed to me a sorry excuse for criminal behavior, it started to seem like a possibility. Or another con, perhaps.

Whatever Mitnick's reasons, Ghost in the Wires is as much fun to read as any summer thriller.
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on 30 October 2015
Right from the get-go, Mitnick makes it crystal clear just how impressed with himself he is. Frequently referring to himself as "gutsy", "above average" and painting a picture of everyone around him being knocked for six by his hacking prowess while, in contrast, anyone who demonstrates a similar attitude is labelled as "arrogant" and their competence diminished.

The story becomes repetitive with Mitnick claiming time and again that he's terrified of going back to jail and sick of hurting those around him, only to then once again break the law in an attempt to one-up somebody (often for no more reason than to prove to himself that he can) and go back on the run.

Over the course of the whole book, Mitnick barely acknowledges the criminality of his tapping other people's phones, accessing personal information and impersonating law enforcement but spends several pages detailing how the "Myth of Mitnick" stacked odds against him.

Ultimately, just like a gambling addict, this is someone who takes credit for even the smallest win and explains away every loss as pure circumstance.
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on 10 October 2011
I was a first year comp.sci.student when Mitnick was caught and always wondered about the real stories behind it all, so it was a real delight to finally read Mitnick's own words on his exploits in this very readable book.

He's not very apologetic about his actions (which consist mostly of talking people into given him information he shouldn't have, rather than actual hacking though there's a little of that as well). He's always got some excuse ready to justify the 'just one more hack.' The unapologetic nature of the book may be off-putting to some readers, but I find it refreshingly honest.

As someone who hacked his way through an unchallenging time in high school, in a time before the Internet where you had to figure out everything on your own, I totally understand the excitement and the lure he experienced, but thankfully I was able to stop before it got me into any serious trouble. Decades later, I find that my most skilled colleagues in the programming field are those who already in their teens were interested in figuring out 'how stuff worked' - actions which today would've landed them in jail...
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