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About David Kushner
David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author. His books include Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids: How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds, Stormed Las Vegas, Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb, Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, Alligator Candy: A Memoir, and The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise.
Kushner is also author of the graphic novel Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D, illustrated by Koren Shadmi, and the ebook, The Bones of Marianna: A Reform School, a Terrible Secret, and a Hundred-Year Fight for Justice. Two collections of his magazine stories are available as audiobooks, The World’s Most Dangerous Geek: And More True Hacking Stories and Prepare to Meet Thy Doom: And More True Gaming Stories.
A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, Kushner has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, New York Times Magazine, New York, and GQ, and has been an essayist for National Public Radio. His work is featured in several “best of” anthologies: The Best American Crime Reporting, The Columbia Journalism Review’s Best Business Writing, The Best Music Writing, and The Best American Travel Writing. He is the winner of the New York Press Club award for Best Feature Reporting. His ebook The Bones of Marianna was selected by Amazon as a Best Digital Single of 2013. NPR named his memoir Alligator Candy one of the best books of 2016. He has taught as a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
For articles and info, visit his website www.davidkushner.com.
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Americans spend more money on video games than on movie tickets. Masters of Doom is the first book to chronicle this industry’s greatest story, written by one of the medium’s leading observers. David Kushner takes readers inside the rags-to-riches adventure of two rebellious entrepreneurs who came of age to shape a generation. The vivid portrait reveals why their games are so violent and why their immersion in their brilliantly designed fantasy worlds offered them solace. And it shows how they channeled their fury and imagination into products that are a formative influence on our culture, from MTV to the Internet to Columbine. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry—a powerful and compassionate account of what it’s like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.
“To my taste, the greatest American myth of cosmogenesis features the maladjusted, antisocial, genius teenage boy who, in the insular laboratory of his own bedroom, invents the universe from scratch. Masters of Doom is a particularly inspired rendition. Dave Kushner chronicles the saga of video game virtuosi Carmack and Romero with terrific brio. This is a page-turning, mythopoeic cyber-soap opera about two glamorous geek geniuses—and it should be read while scarfing down pepperoni pizza and swilling Diet Coke, with Queens of the Stone Age cranked up all the way.”—Mark Leyner, author of I Smell Esther Williams
Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest and most controversial videogame franchises of all time. Since its first release in 1997, GTA has pioneered the use of everything from 3D graphics to the voices of top Hollywood actors and repeatedly transformed the world of gaming. Despite its incredible innovations in the $75 billion game industry, it has also been a lightning rod of debate, spawning accusations of ethnic and sexual discrimination, glamorizing violence, and inciting real-life crimes. Jacked tells the turbulent and mostly unknown story of GTA's wildly ambitious creators, Rockstar Games, the invention and evolution of the franchise, and the cultural and political backlash it has provoked.
- Explains how British prep school brothers Sam and Dan Houser took their dream of fame, fortune, and the glamor of American pop culture and transformed it into a worldwide videogame blockbuster
- Written by David Kushner, author of Masters of Doom and a top journalist on gaming, and drawn from over ten years of interviews and research, including firsthand knowledge of Grand Theft Auto's creators and detractors
- Offers inside details on key episodes in the development of the series, including the financial turmoil of Rockstar games, the infamous "Hot Coffee" sex mini-game incident, and more
Whether you love Grand Theft Auto or hate it, or just want to understand the defining entertainment product of a generation, you'll want to read Jacked and get the real story behind this boundary-pushing game.
In 1994, visionary entrepreneur Gary Kremen used a $2,500 loan to create the first online dating service, Match.com. Only five percent of Americans were using the internet at the time, and even fewer were looking online for love. He quickly bought the Sex.com domain too, betting the combination of love and sex would help propel the internet into the mainstream.
Imagine Kremen’s surprise when he learned that someone named Stephen Michael Cohen had stolen the rights to Sex.com and was already making millions that Kremen would never see. Thus follows the wild true story of Kremen’s and Cohen’s decade-long battle for control. In The Players Ball, author and journalist David Kushner provides a front seat to these must-read Wild West years online, when innovators and outlaws battled for power and money.
This cat-and-mouse game between a genius and a con man changed the way people connect forever, and is key to understanding the rise and future of the online world.
“Kushner delivers a fast-paced, raunchy tale of sex, drugs, and dial-up.” —Publishers Weekly
David Kushner grew up in the early 1970s in the Florida suburbs. It was when kids still ran free, riding bikes and disappearing into the nearby woods for hours at a time. One morning in 1973, however, everything changed. David’s older brother Jon biked through the forest to the convenience store for candy, and never returned.
Every life has a defining moment, a single act that charts the course we take and determines who we become. For Kushner, it was Jon’s disappearance—a tragedy that shocked his family and the community at large. Decades later, now a grown man with kids of his own, Kushner found himself unsatisfied with his own memories and decided to revisit the episode a different way: through the eyes of a reporter. His investigation brought him back to the places and people he once knew and slowly made him realize just how much his past had affected his present. After sifting through hundreds of documents and reports, conducting dozens of interviews, and poring over numerous firsthand accounts, he has produced a powerful and inspiring story of loss, perseverance, and memory. Alligator Candy is searing and unforgettable.
Gygax was the son of immigrants who grew up in Lake Geneva, WI, in the 1950s. An imaginative misfit, he escaped into a virtual world based on science fiction novels, military history and strategic games like chess. In the mid-1970s, he co-created the wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons game. Starting out in the basement of his home, he was soon struggling to keep up with the demand. Gygax was a purist, in the sense that he was adamant that players use their imaginations and that the rules of the game remain flexible. A creative mind with no real knowledge of business, he made some strategic errors and had a falling out with the game's co-creator, his close friend and partner, David Arneson.
By the late 1970s the game had become so popular among kids that parents started to worry -- so much so that a mom's group was formed to alert parents to the dangers of role play and fantasy. The backlash only fueled the fires of the young fans who continued to play the game, escaping into imaginary worlds. Before long, D&D conventions were set up around the country and the game inspired everything from movies to the first video games. With D&D, Gygax created the kind of role playing fantasy that would fuel the multibillion dollar video game industry, and become a foundation of contemporary geek culture.
In The Bones of Marianna, David Kushner tells the story of the unlikely crusaders who pushed Dozier’s dark past into the light. A one-time high school football star, haunted by the memory of a departed teammate, spends years quarterbacking the fight to expose the truth, while an anthropologist uses cutting-edge technology to dig up grim secrets. Informed by months of reporting, Kushner delivers a gripping tale of hard-won justice—and exclusive details on more secrets that may be waiting to be unearthed.
A for Anonymous shows how a leaderless band of volunteers successfully used hacktivism to fight for the underdog, embarrass their rich and powerful targets--from Sony and Paypal to the Church of Scientology and Ferguson Police Department--all in the name of freedom of speech and information. Their exploits blurred the distinction between "online" and "reality," and help shape our contemporary world.
The ultimate bully-magnet, Finkel grew up heckled and hazed until destiny came in the form of a trading-card game called Magic: The Gathering. Magic exploded from nerdy obsession to mainstream mania and made the teenage Finkel an ultracool world champion.
Once transformed, this young shark stormed poker rooms from the underground clubs of New York City to the high-stakes tables online, until he landed on the largest card-counting blackjack team in the country. Taking Vegas for millions, Finkel’s squad of brainy gamers became the biggest players in town. Then they took on the town’s biggest game, the World Series of Poker, and walked away with more than $3.5 million.
Thrilling, edgy, and ferociously feel-good, the odyssey of these underdogs-turned-overlords is the stuff of pop-culture legend. And David Kushner, acclaimed author of Masters of Doom, masterfully deals out the outrageous details while bringing to life a cast of characters rife with aces, kings, knaves . . . and more than a few jokers. If you secretly believe every player has his day, you’re right. Here’s the proof.