Book Review: The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed

With The Google Story David A. Vise and Mark Malseed write a non-fiction book that takes the reader "inside the hottest business, media and technology success of our time. The story of Google begins when one of the co-founders Larry Page arrogantly tells his doctoral adviser at Stanford University that he plans on downloading the Internet into his personal computer. He adds that he thinks it won't be that difficult.

This remarks leads him and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, also a doctoral candidate at Stanford, to begin working together "mining" data and looking for the best possible search engine to make their analysis of data simpler and easier. Soon they become disenchanted from available search engines such as Yahoo, Altavista, and Excite and begin to work on developing their own.

Vise and Malseed tell the Google story with near reverence. They describe the philosophy of the Google founders "don't be evil" and "have a healthy disregard for the impossible" as if the company can do no wrong. Their descriptions are interesting and well-written. The book reads quickly. However Vise and Malseed fail to recognize that as Google grows it is naturally changing from the Grateful Deadhead-dormroom atmosphere from which it developed into a corporate model with more in common with so-called evil computer giant Microsoft.

Despite this near disciple-like devotion to Page, Brin, and Google, The Google Story is recommend, especially to those of us in our fifties who sometimes feel baffled by recent computer innovations. If nothing else, Appendix I that features twenty-three Google search engine tips should be read and followed. I rate this book a good solid B, or 86%.


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” - Charles W. Eliot


Book Review: Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir by Marina Nemat

I've been reading many books about the Middle East for the last few years. I view this as a good thing for many reasons. If more Americans had been reading about the region for the last fifty years, perhaps there would be more stability and less violence there. Who knows, maybe not.

The most recent book is Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir by Marina Nemat. Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster published the book this year. It is the story of Marina Nemat, an Iranian expatriate living in Canada. Marina was a sixteen-year-old public high school student in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the Shah was deposed. During the following religious and political repression she was arrested as an enemy of the state because she had led a strike in her high school demanding the math teacher stop issuing the Khomeini approved propaganda and begin teaching calculus. Because of this and similar actions she was arrested and sentenced to execution.

Prisoner of Tehran is the story of her life in Evin prison and her resulting immigration to the United States. Despite the events occurring more than twenty years ago Prisoner of Tehran is a poignant story because so many similar things are done on a daily basis throughout the world today.

I recommend reading Nemat's book. At times it seems like the story of an adolescent from anywhere in the world trying to grow up. Other times her experiences warn the reader against the extremes of any religion or political group.

I encourage everyone to learn about the Middle East. If your attention has not been focused there yet, it should be. The role the Middle East will play on the future of the world is uncertain, but it is likely to be significant.

Here are some links to Prisoner of Tehran and other books I've read about the Middle East and Afghanistan.