Top critical review
Worth reading, but overrated.
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2019
I think this book is a bit over-rated. It's a good read, and you will learn a a lot, but it left me feeling very unsympathetic towards the "hackers". I felt like it characterized the individuals more than it attempted to present them as they were. I was felt unsure whether the "hacker ethos", as Levy presents it, was real. It was obvious that there was some truth to it, but at the same time it sounded very much like the the view from 1968. He spent WAYYYY too much time on Lee Felsenstein in SF - communists and all. There was also far too about Ken Williams (almost half the book) - who he made very dislikeable. By contrast, he didn't seem as interested in Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates - but he did tell their stories. My favorite parts were the beginning with the model railroad club and "Space War", and the first computer convention. Both of these parts were vivid and exciting. It's been a while since I've read it, but flipping through now, it seems like Levy is much too focused on computer games. There wasn't anything that I can recall about HeathKit, not enough about homebrew computers, and very little about all of the kids typing away BASIC on their Apples, Ataris, and Commodores. There was nothing or almost nothing about kids learning BASIC at Dartmouth, or the geniuses who did really serious hacking inventing computers at Princeton or PARC, or the guys who built ARPANET in Boston. Of course, they don't fit his definition of hackers, and I think that's unfortunate. There was a lot about Frogger, though. I do think it's worth a read, but it left me feeling sorry for the "hackers", rather than admiring them.