The Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams

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9780688179069: The Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams

In "the best book to date on the subject" (San Francisco Chronicle), prize-winning journalist David A. Kaplan brings to life the culture and history of Silicon Valley. The symbol of high-tech genius and ineffable wealth, a place that competes with Hollywood and Washington in the zeitgeist of success and excess, the Valley is the epicenter of the New Economy. Depending on yesterday's stock market close, roughly a quartermillion Siliconillionaires live in the Valley. And they're building megalo-mansions and buying Lamborghinis as fast as they can. Combining reportorial insight and biting wit, The Silicon Boys tells the unforgettable story of dreams and greed, ambition and luck, that has become the Valley of the Dollars.

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Review:

Pop quiz: Where are American kids taught the nuances of being millionaires as part of their junior high curriculum? Where do guests at a posh outdoor party grouse about the defects of high-end flushable Porta-Johns? Where does a school auction rake in $439,000? The answer: Silicon Valley, of course. David A. Kaplan captures all that excess and more in The Silicon Boys.

Kaplan's book is a history of the Valley, from the time when Stanford professor Frederick Terman encouraged David Packard and Bill Hewlett to establish their own company to when Sequoia Capital invested $1 million in a startup founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo. In between are the many Valley legends, including Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Kleiner Perkins, Apple, Oracle, and Netscape--as well as some of its most notable failures and tragedies, such as William Shockley and Gary Kildall. While the book begins with the opulence of Woodside, California, it ends surprisingly enough in Portland, Maine, with Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, who fled the Valley for something "fresher" and "more alive."

As he traces the short history of the area, Kaplan, a senior writer at Newsweek, detects a not-so-subtle change in its values. He writes, "Nobody appears to be having quite as good a time in Silicon Valley. Passions have become mere professions; impulsiveness is now compulsiveness.... The Valley once was a new machine. It changed the world. It may do so yet again. But the machine has no soul anymore." Here's a thoughtful and colorful read for anyone interested in one of the most dynamic places on the planet. --Harry C. Edwards

About the Author:

David A. Kaplan is a senior editor at Newsweek. He is the author of The Silicon Boys, a national bestseller that has been translated into six languages. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, various Op-Ed pages, Parenting, and Food & Wine. A graduate of Cornell and the New York University School of Law, he lives with his wife and two sons in Irvington, New York.

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