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  • Book Club - 1st Book suggestions end Sunday 29th March

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    Let's get this started!

    Everyone interested please:
    • Suggest a book (name / title / link)
    • Tell us a non-spoiler summary (Back of book, from Amazon description, etc)
    • Tell us why you like it, what speaks to you
    • How it ties into the DEF CON theme of Discovery!
    Then come Sunday evening we will create a poll for everyone to vote on all the suggestions and a book will be selected.

    I could go first, but that might be considered cheating, so I leave it open.

    Who is set the standard for others to follow?
    March 29, 2020
    March 29, 2020
    Last edited by The Dark Tangent; March 25, 2020, 19:46.
    PGP Key:

  • #2
    Rather than suggest a book I've already read, here's a list of books people have told me to read and have been on my to-read list for a while:
    • Silence on the Wire
    • Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
    • The Cuckoo's Egg
    • The New School of Information Security


    • #3
      How about The Alchemist? It's coming up on my reading list anyway and if I could share that with you fine folks - that'd be great!

      Amazon synopsis:

      Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

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      What's discovery is more important than self-discovery?


      • #4
        A few suggestions that are relevant and thought-provoking, while also entertaining:
        • Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
        "In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.

        Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.

        A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity" [Amazon Summary]
        • The Glitch - Elisabeth Cohen
        "A fast, funny, deeply hilarious debut--The Glitch is the story of a high-profile, TED-talking, power-posing Silicon Valley CEO and mother of two who has it all under control, until a woman claiming to be a younger version of herself appears, causing a major glitch in her over-scheduled, over-staffed, over-worked life.

        Shelley Stone, wife, mother, and CEO of the tech company Conch, is committed to living her most efficient life. She takes her "me time" at 3:30 a.m. on the treadmill, power naps while waiting in line, schedules sex with her husband for when they are already changing clothes, and takes a men's multivitamin because she refuses to participate in her own oppression.

        But when she meets a young woman also named Shelley Stone who has the same exact scar on her shoulder, Shelley has to wonder: Is she finally buckling under all the pressure? Completely original, brainy, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Glitch introduces one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction and offers a riotous look into work, marriage, and motherhood in our absurd world." [Amazon Summary]
        • The Last Watchman of Old Cairo - Michael David Lukas
        (this one is not technology-related but is an amazing story)

        "Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One day, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the centuries-old history that binds the two sides of his family.

        From the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, where generations of his family served as watchmen, to the lives of British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 leave Cambridge on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue, this tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces that attempt to bridge that divide.

        Moving and richly textured, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a poignant portrait of the intricate relationship between fathers and sons, and an unforgettable testament to the stories we inherit and the places we are from.' [Amazon Summary]


        • #5
          An oldie but a goodie, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein. A tale of technology supported revolution, and a reminder of how important the high ground is, long before Star Wars III.


          • #6

            I am going to post any recommendations sent to me from outside of the forums, I'd rather post them one by one as I get them, instead of save them all for one post. I also have a few books that I've bookmarked that I'm very interested in reading but I'd like to narrow down my list before I dump them all in here. I'll think it over and pick 3 that I'm really invested in and list them later. ​​​​

            I asked Cory Doctorow and informed him of the club, he recommended Uncanny Valley, but didn't elaborate.

            From wikipedia:

            Uncanny Valley is a 2020 memoir by writer Anna Wiener. The book focuses on Wiener's transition from the publishing industry to a series of jobs at technology companies, and her gradual disillusionment with the technology industry.
            Background and composition[edit]

            Wiener moved to San Francisco from New York City at the age of 25 to pursue a job in the tech industry. Upon arriving, she had few friends, and corresponded over email with friends still in New York. Wiener also emailed herself notes about amusing conversations or interactions she overheard or witnessed and saved them in a folder she dubbed "Notes to Self".[1] These emails and text messages later proved useful when writing Uncanny Valley.

            The earliest version of what would later become Uncanny Valley appeared in literary magazine n+1 in 2016.[2] Wiener did not include the names of the companies at which she worked, in the original piece or the book, opting instead to describe the companies' business models and reputations.[3] She employed the same descriptive strategy when referencing other technology companies, and other organizations with connections to Silicon Valley and tech generally, such as Stanford University. Examples include referring to Facebook as "the social network everyone hated" rather than referring directly to the corporation.[4]

            Anna Wiener
            United States
            MCD Books
            14 January 2020
            Print (hardcover), e-book
            978-0-374-27801-4 (hardcover)
            338.4/760979473 B
            HC107.C2 H5335 2020

            "Haters, gonna hate"


            • #7
              • Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed
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              • From Amazon:
                From the development of the U-2 to the Stealth fighter, Skunk Works is the true story of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the chronicle of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a drama of cold war confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds.

                Here are up-close portraits of the maverick band of scientists and engineers who made the Skunk Works so renowned. Filled with telling personal anecdotes and high adventure, with narratives from the CIA and from Air Force pilots who flew the many classified, risky missions, this book is a riveting portrait of the most spectacular aviation triumphs of the twentieth century.
              • The book offers a great insight into how some of these innovations were achieved, often by sheer luck.
              • For this reason it combines with the Discovery theme


              • hex0x42424242
                hex0x42424242 commented
                Editing a comment
                Yeah maybe 26 years ago? hahahah!!
                I know this amazing "Blind Man's Bluff".
                Thanks for remember

              • The Dark Tangent
                The Dark Tangent commented
                Editing a comment
                Only off by 11 years! Wow I'm old.

              • testfire10
                testfire10 commented
                Editing a comment
                This is a fantastic recommendation! It covers what I like to think as a group of free-thinking hackers, developing new technology and ideas in a fast-paced, creative environment to solve the most difficult of problems. It walks through some of the challenges of designing what remains the fastest military aircraft ever designed. Highly recommeded for all those intrigued by learning new things and the process of innovation.

            • #8
              Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet – January 21, 1998
              Amazon Link :

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              Synopsis: Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone.

              In the 1960's, when computers where regarded as mere giant calculators, J.C.R. Licklider at MIT saw them as the ultimate communications devices. With Defense Department funds, he and a band of visionary computer whizzes began work on a nationwide, interlocking network of computers. Taking readers behind the scenes, Where Wizards Stay Up Late captures the hard work, genius, and happy accidents of their daring, stunningly successful venture.

              As for how it fits with the DC 28 Discovery theme it brings us all back to the early beginnings of the internet and allows us to discover the how and why of the internets underlying architecture.
              $search = Get-Droids | Where{$_ -notnear $jedi} ` If($search -eq $null){Move-Along}


              • #9
                Just a reminder about one of the rules:

                "We're reading stories here. Books can be non-fiction and autobiographical, but fiction is always going to be preferred for nominations."
                PGP Key:


                • #10
                  Thanks for the reminder DT I missed that in the first read-through. In that case, as a fiction option, I would go with Book 1 in the Magic 2.0 series.

                  Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0) – March 18, 2014

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                  Synopsis: Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard. What could possibly go wrong? An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.
                  • Series: Magic 2.0 (Book 1)
                  • Paperback: 372 pages
                  • Publisher: 47North (March 18, 2014)
                  • Language: English
                  • ISBN-10: 1612184715
                  • ISBN-13: 978-1612184715
                  • Customer Reviews: 4.3 out of 5 stars1,745 customer ratings

                  $search = Get-Droids | Where{$_ -notnear $jedi} ` If($search -eq $null){Move-Along}


                  • #11

                    Hi everyone! My recommendation is:

                    Daemon by Daniel Suarez

                    Price: 9.99 on Amazon


                    Non-Spoiler Synopsis: In a near-future run by thousands of autonomous computer programs, a dormant program activates after a legendary game designer's premature death and launches a sinister effort to dismantle society and enforce a new world order.

                    Editorial Review: Originally self-published, Suarez's riveting debut would be a perfect gift for a favorite computer geek or anyone who appreciates thrills, chills and cyber suspense.

                    Why I liked it: I enjoyed the heck out of this book for two distinct reasons. First, the people involved, both good and bad are absolutely pushed to the test and their personal journeys really make you question everything right along with them. Second, the book feels timeless. It was published in 2009 but it definitely applies to the current happenings right now.

                    There's also a sequel called 'Freedom'.

                    DEF CON theme of Discovery tie-in: The entire book itself is a discovery. The main character really has to fight to pave his way in a lot of unexpected ways. Other characters have their entire lives turned upside down throughout the book and have to dig deep to survive. The journey of self-discovery is encompassed in the soul of this book.


                    • #12
                      Hello all! Okay, so I have 3 choices I wanted to nominate.

                      1. Arc City Stories
                      This is a collection of 8 short cyberpunk stories.

                      Welcome to Arc City.

                      A city that exists in a world beyond governments, where war and climate change have destroyed the old order. Corporations are now the authorities of the surviving city states. The elite live in luxury above the clouds in their towers, everyone else lives further down, based on their corporate and economic worth.

                      Arc City Stories is an exciting, action-packed collection of nine cyberpunk tales, written by eight authors, of various citizens each trying to survive, in their own way, this brave new world.
                      • Publisher: Independently published (December 15, 2019)
                      • Language: English
                      • ISBN-10: 1675791090
                      • ISBN-13: 978-1675791097
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                      2. Off to be the Wizard.
                      This is a FANTASTIC book on hacking and discovery and it's a joy to read. I can't recommend it enough. This book is already nominated by the user KSI_SYN the synopsis and cover art are here

                      3. Mind's Eye.
                      I've read a book by this author before and I enjoyed it and was looking forward to getting more into his writing. I love the concept of this story. It has a lot of potential

                      A breathtaking near-future thriller. From the New York Times bestselling author whose books have sold over a million copies.

                      When Nick Hall wakes up in a dumpster--bloodied, without a memory, and hearing voices in his head--he knows things are bad. But they're about to get far worse. Because he's being hunted by a team of assassins. Soon Hall discovers that advanced electronics have been implanted in his brain, and he now has two astonishing abilities. He can surf the web using thoughts alone. And he can read minds. But who inserted the implants? And why? And why is someone so desperate to kill him?

                      As Hall races to find answers, he comes to learn that far more is at stake than just his life. Because his actions can either catapult civilization to new heights--or bring about its total collapse.

                      Based on actual research on thought-controlled web surfing, Mind's Eye is a smart, roller-coaster ride of a thriller. One that raises a number of intriguing, and sometimes chilling, possibilities about a future that is just around the corner.

                      About the Author

                      Douglas E. Richards is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of WIRED and more than a dozen other novels (see list below). His books have been translated into eight languages and published by major publishers in numerous foreign countries.

                      A former biotech executive, Richards earned a BS in microbiology from the Ohio State University, a master's degree in genetic engineering from the University of Wisconsin (where he engineered mutant viruses now named after him), and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

                      In recognition of his work, Richards was selected to be a "special guest" at San Diego Comic-Con International, along with such icons as Stan Lee and Ray Bradbury. His essays have been featured in National Geographic, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Earth & Sky, Today's Parent, and many others.

                      The author currently lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and dog.
                      • Paperback: 360 pages
                      • Publisher: Paragon Press; First edition (January 14, 2014)
                      • Language: English
                      • ISBN-10: 0615953948
                      • ISBN-13: 978-0615953946

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                      "Haters, gonna hate"


                      • #13
                        How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us Abou... via Amazon


                        • #14
                          Hi everyone! Check out this this forthcoming book on artificial intelligence for a future pick! T-Minus AI: Humanity’s Countdown to Artificial Intelligence and the New Pursuit of Global Power (

                          The list of endorsements includes:

                          Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and Chairman of Alphabet
                          Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner
                          Sean Carroll, physicist and NYT bestselling author
                          Lord Martin Rees, UK Astronomer Royal
                          Jeremy Bash, NBC News analyst, former chief of staff CIA and DoD
                          Joe Montana, 4x Super Bowl Champ & tech investor
                          Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and Yale legal expert on global cultural conflict
                          Jeff Charbonneau, Former US National Teacher of the Year
                          Don Norman, product/tech design expert, academic, and NYT bestselling author
                          Jordan Harbinger, creator/host The Jordan Harbinger Show
                          August Cole, coauthor of Ghost Fleet and Burn-In
                          Kara Frederick, national security/tech expert, CNAS
                          Allen Gannett, author of The Creative Curve
                          Margarita Konaev, Russia/tech expert, CSET
                          Jordan Katzman, cofounder SmileDirectClub
                          Lindsey Sheppard, national security/tech expert, CSIS

                          "Late in 2017, the conversation about the global impact of artificial intelligence (AI) changed forever. China delivered a bold message when it released a national plan to dominate all aspects of AI across the planet. Within weeks, Russia's Vladimir Putin raised the stakes by declaring AI the future for all humankind, and proclaiming that, "Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."

                          The race was on. Consistent with their unique national agendas, countries throughout the world began plotting their paths and hurrying their pace. Now, not long after, the race has become a sprint.

                          Despite everything at risk, for most of us AI remains shrouded by a cloud of mystery and misunderstanding. Hidden behind complex technical terms and confused even further by extravagant depictions in science fiction, the realities of AI and its profound implications are hard to decipher, but no less crucial to understand.

                          In T-Minus AI: Humanity's Countdown to Artificial Intelligence and the New Pursuit of Global Power, author Michael Kanaan explains the realities of AI from a human-oriented perspective that's easy to comprehend. A recognized national expert and the U.S. Air Force's first Chairperson for Artificial Intelligence, Kanaan weaves a compelling new view on our history of innovation and technology to masterfully explain what each of us should know about modern computing, AI, and machine learning.

                          Kanaan also illuminates the global implications of AI by highlighting the cultural and national vulnerabilities already exposed and the pressing issues now squarely on the table. AI has already become China's all-purpose tool to impose authoritarian influence around the world. Russia, playing catch up, is weaponizing AI through its military systems and now infamous, aggressive efforts to disrupt democracy by whatever disinformation means possible.

                          America and like-minded nations are awakening to these new realities, and the paths they're electing to follow echo loudly, in most cases, the political foundations and moral imperatives upon which they were formed.

                          As we march toward a future far different than ever imagined, T-Minus AI is fascinating and critically well-timed. It leaves the fiction behind, paints the alarming implications of AI for what they actually are, and calls for unified action to protect fundamental human rights and dignities for all."

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                          • #15
                            I'm new to DEFCON (went to my first last year), but have lived what I see as the spriit of DEFCON for much longer as a mechanical engineer. My recommendation is from the classic Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist. He's funny, witty, clever, and the way in which he writes and teaches does a fantastic job of getting you into the the way the mind of a brilliant person works. My recommendation is true to this year's theme of discovery, and has been a personal favorite of mine since I read it the first time, it's called: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. This is from the man that predicted quantum computing and the ability and nature of the modern computer in the 1960s.

                            In it, Feynman walks us through his inspiration for his sense of discovery and desire to learn how the world works. It includes his report on the Challenger disaster, in which he was called as an expert to help understand the nature of the failure. The clear, concise, and entertaining way in which he describes his experiences is second to none. He is a rare breed of professor, both genius, and an effective communicator (although he'd never admit it).

                            If you're hungry for more after reading it, he has a fantastic collection of 6 other books that are also excellent reads. If you're really brave, check out the Feynman lectures on physics.

                            His learning style, and his ability to be both fascinated with, and capable of learning, everything (from safe cracking for a prank to biology) has been an inspiration to my goal of life-long learning for over a decade.

                            Here's a blurb from a reviewer:
                            "...has the author explaining his prize-winning work on quantum electrodynamics, then fixing the interviewer's tape recorder. Other pieces address the field of nanotechnology, ""The Relation of Science and Religion"" and Feynman's experience at Los Alamos, where he helped create the A-bomb (and, in his spare time, cracked safes). Much of the work here was originally meant for oral delivery, as speeches or lectures: Feynman's talky informality can seduce, but some of the pieces read more like unedited tape transcripts than like science writing. Most often, however, Feynman remains fun and informative. Here are yet more comments, anecdotes and overviews from a charismatic rulebreaker with his own, sometimes compelling, views about what science is and how it can be done."

                            Let me know if you read it and enjoy it!


                            • tchalla
                              tchalla commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Great recommendation and I have read his other books   "Surely You`re Joking, Mr. Feynman!" – Adventures a Curious Character " and am now onto another one. He lived a charmed life i must say.