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How to Hack a Party Line: The Democrats and Silicon Valley Paperback – April 8, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With billions in revenues and little political affiliation, Silicon Valley in the early 1990s was a jewel waiting to be snatched by either major party. The Democrats acted first, due largely to the efforts of Wade Randlett, the main figure in Miles's lively, firsthand account of the awakening of Silicon Valley's political consciousness and the wrangling that ensued. Randlett, an independent fundraiser and democratic political consultant, saw a chance to become an important player on Vice-President Al Gore's team by serving as the primary conduit between the Valley and Washington. Miles shows how Randlett, with significant backing from the powerful venture capitalist John Doerr, organized the mostly apolitical business and technical leaders of the Valley in a successful effort to defeat California's Proposition 211, designed to allow for shareholder lawsuits against California executives. Following the proposition's defeat in 1996, Randlett and Doerr formed TechNet, the first major political action committee to represent the interests of the Valley's high-tech companies. With Randlett's party ties and Gore's eagerness to be associated with the New Economy, TechNet tended to favor New Democrats. But as thoroughly as Miles charts the dynamics that tied the Valley to Washington, she writes in something of a vacuum. Though Gore's relationship to Silicon Valley is a major focus, Miles refers only passingly to his nomination in 2000 and fails to discuss the Valley's role in his campaign. She also overlooks the possible effects of the New Economy's crash on Silicon Valley's political influence. Given the current postelection turmoil, Miles's book is the victim of events happening at Internet-speed. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Readers fascinated by either national politics or Silicon Valley will definitely want to read this vivid narrative of the sometimes explosive juxtaposition of these two highly idiosyncratic subcultures. Miles, who covers politics for Wired and recently wrote "The Nasdaq-ing of Capitol Hill" for the New York Times Magazine, was a fly on the wall at dozens of committee meetings, cocktail parties, brainstorming sessions, fund-raisers, and lobbying trips that marked the stages in the development of an alliance between New Democrats and the New Economy. She describes key activists (Wade Randlett, John Doerr, John Witchel, Simon Rosenberg, David Ellington), organizations (the Democratic Leadership Council, TechNet, the New Democrat Network, PAC.com), and issues (including opposition to California's Proposition 211, which gave stockholders broader rights to sue corporate executives, telecommunications and biotech regulation, trade with China, access to foreign-born engineers, and the shifting meaning of the "digital divide"). An involving, sometimes appalling "sausage-making" tale of a political courtship whose consequences may be substantial. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition, Updated with a New Afterword edition (April 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520233409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520233409
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,122,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry, and serves as Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. She is the author of CITY OF GOD: FAITH IN THE STREETS; JESUS FREAK: FEEDING HEALING RAISING THE DEAD; and TAKE THIS BREAD: A RADICAL CONVERSION.

To find details of Sara Miles' speaking engagements in a city near you, go to the "events" section of her Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sara-Miles/152978483594?id=152978483594&sk=events

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pritchard on March 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It's the late 90s, and Silicon Valley is overflowing with cash. A minor Democratic Party operative, Wade Randlett, realizes that the centrist Clinton-Gore New Democrat ideology is a perfect fit for the libertarian-leaning just-get-it-done millionaires of California's high tech industry -- and better yet, they're political virgins. If he can play the matchmaker between cash-rich techies and cash-hungry politicos, Randlett could leapfrog into Democratic Party power.

In this funny and ironic account, Sara Miles recounts what happened when Silicon Valley techies, who knew nothing about how politics works, met Washington politicians who knew nothing about high tech. The clash of styles is entertaining enough, but their attempts at communicating, while badly disguising their selfish agendas, are hilarious. Don't miss the scene where Tipper Gore sits in on drums at a high-tech fundraiser, or the scene where two busloads of congressmen visiting the Napa Valley sing drunkenly to each other over their cell phones. An engaging, insightful, well-reported document of how things get done, or don't.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In the early 1990s, Silicon Valley gave the world instant millionaires, who were also apolitical. That lack of interest changed by 1996 when Wade Randlett decided to form an action committee that supported new Democrats. HOW TO HACK A PARTY LINE is refreshing as it ignores the software side of the Valley. Instead, the tome chronicles the rising of political involvement by the Valley's previously aloof membership. The book is fascinating, similar to White's look at presidential elections, but is also disappointing because most readers will be interested in the .com community's relationship with the election of 2000 which is barely mentioned. Though well written and insightful, the Guttenberg speed of present day publishing costs Sara Miles a coup.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gadgetcollector on December 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
As someone who was marginally involved in this relationship from the DC side of things, I found Miles' revelation of the view from the other coast very interesting. For me the key to any book, regardless of the subject matter, is the author's writing ability. Sara Miles' style is extremely engaging, without ever seeming obtrusive or affected. She also seems to have good instincts, and to know the right questions to raise in response to what she's hearing. If I have any criticism, it is that she while she is basically well informed and bright, at times she seems naive about the overall political context in which she is writing, and misses some major elements of the political dance she is documenting. On the other hand, a more traditional political journalist would probably not have been able to present the Silicon valley end of things as perceptively. Overall, a good read about the clash of egos and norms when two very different cultures interact. I wish she would write a sequel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I may even think this book is of far greater importance than its author. Do you truly want to understand the collapse of California's economy? Read this book written some eleven years ago. In 2001 very few people were predicting today's troubles. Sara Miles deals with the secular yuppies who adamantly championed cultural war leftism. These naive people bought into the myth that Bill Clinton represented the New Democrats: supposedly sensible regarding economic matters---while still adamantly pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. These efforts have resulted in an economic disaster for the state. This mindset is also responsible for helping Democrat Party achieve victories in a number of so-called purple, swing states. How to Hack a Party Line is extremely relevant in this year's election cycle. Many yuppies still fail to comprehend that their financial difficulties are the direct consequences of switching their voting allegiance to the Democrats during the Clinton era.
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