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Geek Silicon Valley: The Inside Guide To Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose, San Francisco Paperback – November 1, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Real Silicon Valley

Some people say that Silicon Valley is a state of mind, but the cultural trends that drive us today were actually born in a very real place―the garages and back rooms of the cities between San Francisco and San Jose, California. Geek Silicon Valley delivers Silicon Valley history, taking us from success story to failed start-up and back again as we drive the roads from Menlo Park to Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.

Place by place, readers get the background info on all the addresses that count: Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Stanford University, NASA Ames, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Santana Row, Genentech, and many more.

Journey through a circuitry of places and people―and the stories that created today’s high-tech lifestyle―with Geek Silicon Valley.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press; 1st edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762742399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762742394
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is a great little book. Part historical overview, part travel guide, it's written in the breezy, easy-going style of Vance's columns in The Register, the best of the online IT rags (except that the book has been carefully proofread, unlike a typical Register story). In less than 250 pages Vance has covered almost all of the important historic events and personalities behind Silicon Valley, and provided a great set of tips of places for visiting, dining and drinking. There's even a good list of books and web sites for further reading.

I've lived in the Valley for nearly 15 years, and yet learned a fair amount from this book, including several places to visit that were new to me. There were only a few curious omissions: e.g., Halted gets a mention, but Fry's does not; neither does Buck's in Woodside; and surely Frank Drake should be mentioned in the section on the SETI Institute? - but otherwise the text is remarkably accurate, despite having condensed many complex histories, each worthy of a book in its own right, into paragraphs or pages. Vance clearly did his homework. My only historical quibble is with his description of the demise of SGI. I thought it was mainly done in by cheap graphics chips from Nvidia and the like; Itanic was just the icing on the cake.

The book mentions his web site and claims additional information can be found there, but so far there isn't anything new. Hopefully that will change over time. Another concern is that quite a bit of the information in the book will date fast; I hope Vance and his publisher refreshes the text (or the website, or both) regularly.

If you live in the Valley, visit the Valley, or you just want to know what the heck the place is about, this book is for you. And if you're a geek too, it's a must-read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dated, but still informative book about Silicon Valley. The author admits that it will be dated, due to the rapid change that has always been the nature of the Valley. The book would have held up better if it had been more of a history book with some key locations such as companies, museums, and universities, and less restaurants. But to be fair, the restaurants are often included due to proximity near a major tech company or when it is frequented by tech luminaries.

Overall this is solid book that will be of interest mainly to real geeks and those interested in silicon valley history. My favorite parts of the book by far are the ones that tell the history of the various tech companies and personalities.

The formatting is terrible on the Kindle version of this book due to the sidebars. It makes it disjointed and hard to follow at times. I constantly felt like I was re-reading what I had read.
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Who would have thought that a group of dull-looking buildings scattered throughout an industrial research park in California would become one of the most fascinating places to examine in the world? And who would have thought that those buildings have been replicated by hopeful local governments a hundred times over around the world (usually without success). It could only be Silicon Valley of course. Situated near the visually stunning Stanford University, Silicon Valley around Palo Alto has become the second largest generator of new American companies after the New York Stock Exchange. And the fact that it is the home to some of the nerdiest people on the planet only adds to the appeal of the place.

Forget Yosemite, O Traveller. If you want to see how America works in the 21st century, go to Silicon Valley... aka Geek heaven. See the connections.
And what connections they are!

Ashlee Vance is an online journo who has written a lively account of the early history of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View and San Jose and noting the overriding impact of nearby San Francisco. He provides an easy to follow guide to these places together with a lively discussion of the early pioneers like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

This book is designed for the curious traveler, indeed the geek traveler, rather than the academic scholar, and, it gives a very good overview of the various small cities that make up "the valley". There is a listing of other Silicon Valley books at the end of the publication, a list of other nerdy sites to look at but no list of restaurants (Don't nerds eat at all?) plus an index. Sadly, the book is spoilt,however,by the poor quality paper used in this edition.
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This book delivers as advertised. A great summary of Silicon Valley. If you've just arrived in the valley it is indispensable. Pick up this book and spend your time learning, visiting and eating through the locales mentioned. (They should hand this out to incoming students at Stanford, and at the immigration line at SFO.)

Minor quibble, the book suffers from "young journalist syndrome," where its history, anecdotes and insights are a synthesis of the bibliography in the back. However, kudos to the author for reading more valley history than 99% of other writers. He is headed for greatness when he finds his own voice.
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Format: Paperback
I've lived in Palo ALto for years and still learned a ton from this book. It's the perfect blend of history, context, entertaining anecdotes and insight. Vance manages to describe many "geek" innovations in layman terms, so that the book was especially helpful for a non-geek like me--someone who knew it was past time to learn about his hometown as well as the most important revolution of the 20th century. Who would have thought something so good for me would have caused me to laugh out loud at several points? Just wait until you read about Google's party plane.
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