Filed under fiction | Tags: · 2000s, business, hacking, internet, security, technology, web
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but theres no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of whats left.
Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethicscarry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into peoples bank accountswithout having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working momtwo boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhoodtill Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitlers aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.
With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where weve journeyed to since.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?
Hey. Who wants to know?
Publisher Penguin, 2013
ISBN 0698142683, 9780698142688
Review (Evgeny Morozov, Frankfurter Allgemeine)
Review (Justin St. Clair, Los Angeles Review of Books)
Review (Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times)
Review (Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal)
Review (Tim Martin, The Telegraph)
Review (Gary Lippman, The Paris Review)
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Filed under book | Tags: · biography, intelligence agency, law, leaking, military, security, whistleblowing, wikileaks
“In May 2010, an intelligence analyst in the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division was arrested on suspicion of leaking nearly half a million classified government documents, including the infamous “Collateral Murder” gunsight video and 260,000 State Department cables. After nine months in solitary confinement, the suspect now awaits court-martial in Fort Leavenworth. He is twenty-four, comes from Crescent, Oklahoma and his name is Bradley Manning.
Who is Private First Class Bradley Manning? Why did he allegedly commit the largest security breach in American history–and why was it so easy? Is Manning a traitor or a whistleblower? Is long-term isolation an outrage to American values–or the new norm? Are the leaks revolutionary or a sensational nonevent? Which is the greater security threat, routinized elite secrecy or flashes of transparency? And what impact does new information really have?
The astonishing leaks attributed to Bradley Manning are viewed from many angles, from Tunisia to Guantánamo Bay, from Foggy Bottom to Baghdad to small-town Oklahoma. Around the world, the eloquent alleged act of one young man obliges citizens to ask themselves if they have the right to know what their government is doing.”
Publisher OR Books, April 2012
ISBN 1935928538, 9781935928539
United States v. Bradley Manning (Wikipedia)
1.5-hour special broadcast on the Bradley Manning verdict (Democracy Now!, 30 July 2013)
Table detailing verdict in Bradley Manning trial (AlexaOBrien.com)
Dana Priest, William M. Arkin: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (2011)
Filed under book | Tags: · privacy, security, surveillance, united states
The top-secret world that the government created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks has become so enormous, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or exactly how many agencies duplicate work being done elsewhere. The result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe may be putting us in greater danger. In Top Secret America, award-winning reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin uncover the enormous size, shape, mission and consequences of this invisible universe of over 1,300 government facilities in every state in America; nearly 2,000 outside companies used as contractors and more than 850,000 people granted ‘Top Secret’ security clearance.
A landmark expose of a new, secret ‘Fourth Branch’ of American government, Top Secret America is a tour de force of investigative reporting-and a book sure to spark national and international alarm.
Publisher Little, Brown and Company, New York/Boston/London, 2011
ISBN 0316194042, 9780316194044