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Customer Review

on November 15, 2007
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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