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The controversial book behind the new Robert Connoly film Underground, The Julian Assange Story - described as a 'tale of madness, paranoia and brilliance', The Weekend Australian.

The controversial book behind the new Robert Connoly film Underground, The Julian Assange Story - described as a 'tale of madness, paranoia and brilliance', The Weekend Australian.

Suelette Dreyfus and embattled Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, tell the compelling true story of the computer underground and the bizarre lives and crimes of an elite group of young hackers who, in the 1980s and 1990s, took on the forces of the establishment.

Using home computers, they conquered some of the world’s biggest and most powerful organisations, including the US military. By day, sat in suburban school classrooms. By night they were knee-deep in NASA networks.

Brilliant and obsessed, many of them found themselves addicted to hacking. Some descended into drug addiction and madness. Others were convicted and served time in gaol before slowly piecing their lives back together.

From the inside, Dreyfus and Assange reveal this shadowy world of hidden identities and secret information.

'Underground is an adventure book for the brain .. Cowboys .. roamed unpatrolled electronic frontiers. Some made it into the systems of powerful organisations, [where] the hackers would leave their mark - akin to flashing a virtual brown-eye - [and] .. cause chaos to the powers that be. Underground takes us inside these gods of a new technology.. It's an action story.' - Sarah Macdonald, Triple J Radio

Reviews

It's a real pleasure to find a writer who brings genuine perception to the subject. Suelette Dreyfus is such a writer, and Underground, is such a book.. quite a tale of human frailty. It's strength comes not from the feats of hacking it portrays -- and there are plenty of them -- but in the emotional and physical cost to the players.. Those inclined to seek the unvarnished truth will find Underground an excellent read.

George Smith, Crypt News

An astonishing book

Bernard Lagan, The Age

This is not just another book about the Internet; it's an entirely original focus on the bizarre lives and crimes of an extraordinary group of teenage hackers.. Gripping, eminently readable.. Dreyfus has uncovered one of this country's best kept secrets and in doing so has created a highly intense and enjoyable read.

Rolling Stone

In this riveting, real-life yarn, Dreyfus develops a meticulously researched psychological and social profile of hackers.. [She] makes the esoteric world of the hacker accessible to the average reader.

Australian Bookseller & Publisher

The reader is readily drawn forward into the eddies of the underground by the thrust and parry of the hackers and their pursuers. Addiction, dysfunction, obsession and their outcome are all portrayed in a fascinating manner. Ms. Dreyfus is one smart cookie with depth of character and rapid pacing.. Dive into the Underground and be swept into a thrilling elite realm.

Ed Burns, IBIC

[Underground] is a highly original, imaginative and accessible piece of investigative journalism.. Dreyfus is an able narrator. She has the wisdom to realise that the best way to tell a colourful story is in the plainest language possible. The characters she describes are peculiar enough; Mendax, who keeps his computer disks in a beehive; Electron, with his delusions of being a reincarnation of Buddha; paranoid Parmaster and his Swiss cybersqueeze Theorem. They need little embellishment.. there is much to admire in the doggedness with which Dreyfus follows her subjects, re-creates their complex misadventures and links them into a satisfactory whole. It speaks highly of Underground that some chapters stand comparison with Cliff Stoll's terrific technodunit The Cuckoo's Egg (1989).. Underground does offer some excellent journalism. As with Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown (1992), its most disturbing aspect is how overwhelmingly dependent we have become on computers.. the hackers gain entry to big databases as routinely as someone hurdling a low picket fence. At least one bank computer spits out credit card numbers as willingly as a dog surrenders a ball. Time and time again, administrators have to turn to pen and paper because it's the only secure and indelible means of recording information. For those sick of bullish cyberpiffle, Underground contains any amount of counterintelligence.

Gideon Haigh, Australian Literary Supplement

Historians often bemoan the loss of written records of day-to-day life, a process that started in earnest when the telephone began ousting mail in mainstream communications. Computers have led to an even greater fall in permanent written records in the last 20 years. Which is just one reason why Suelette Dreyfus' Underground is such a valuable work. Dreyfus is not (as the publicity for the book might lead us to believe) blowing the whistle on today's computer hackers, with all the Big Brother/pornscape fear-mongering that might entail. Instead, she's documenting the recent history of computer culture.. the things they [the hackers] occasionally discover, and the over-reaction of those around them, are genuinely fascinating. Dreyfus does not attempt any sleights of hand with jargon.. The true stories of Underground are simply compelling.

David Nichols, The Big Issue

This is the best hacker book I've read--it goes into sufficient depth regarding a few cases to explain the motivations and backgrounds of the hackers involved, which most hacker books gloss over or ignore. It also displays a level of research and technical understanding not matched by other hacker books. Highly recommended.

Jim Lippard

So mysterious are computer hackers, so deeply anonymous and sinister, that they almost seem more legend than reality. So it comes as some sort of relief to have them flushed out into the open by Suelette Dreyfus in Underground (Mandarin, $19.95), the first Australian book to document the activities and psychopathology of hackers.. Dreyfus has researched her subject comprehensively and transformed archival data and interviews into a hard-to-put-down narrative.. The book opens suspensefully with a gripping account of the invasion of the WANK worm into the computer networks of NASA. This politically misguided but extremely disruptive piece of international hacking finally was traced to.. Dreyfus then examines leading hackers, offering an open-minded account of their lives, attitudes, techniques, accomplishments and downfalls. She captures the spirit of their backroom world and the obsessive nature of their mindsets with a degree of sympathy, but never seeking to excuse them of wrong-doing.. Underground is a landmark book in its disclosures about this dark underbelly of the information technology revolution. It raises questions about society and family values, education, corporate security, police procedures and the ability of the legal system to deal with this new form of crime. And it is a riveting read.

Samela Harris, The Adelaide Advertiser

I couldn't put Underground down during a long flight last week.. [the Author's] frank and unabashed account of an eclectic mix of home-grown hackers and their overseas counterparts makes compelling reading for those of us who want more than just salacious and hyped snippets.. Underground is..backed up by..detailed technical research.. She puts flesh on the bones of many of these..teenage rebels, who..have made a counter-culture protest against the telcos, Big Brother, the Feds, the military and other authoritarian figures.. The dark side of their lives is revealed in all its..ruthlessness.. surrounded in many instances by surprisingly mundane.. brick veneer homes..

Trudie MacIntosh, The Australian

Suelette Dreyfus's Underground is an absorbing book about young Australian hackers who wreak havoc in the world of high technology. It reads like a thriller, but the story is based on fact and begins when NASA officials arrive one Monday morning to discover something is not quite right. You have to feel a little sorry for the scientists, who watch helplessly as years of research delete, delete, delete before their eyes.

The Age

I'm grateful to Ms Dreyfus for introducing me to a number of first-rate subversives. And my joy knew no bounds when I discovered that some of the best of the electronic anarchists were Australian. At a time when the country's going down the gurgler, it was good to feel a rush of national pride.

Phillip Adams, Late Night Live, Radio National

Underground is an adventure book for the brain .. Cowboys .. roamed unpatrolled electronic frontiers. Some made it into the systems of powerful organisations, [where] the hackers would leave their mark - akin to flashing a virtual brown-eye - [and] .. cause chaos to the powers that be. Underground takes us inside these gods of a new technology.. It's an action story.

Sarah Macdonald, Triple J Radio

A tale of madness, paranoia and brilliance among Australian computer hackers - and how they nearly brought NASA undone.

The Weekend Australian Magazine

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781742752020

    February 1, 2011

    William Heinemann Australia

    508 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742752037

    March 1, 2011

    RHA eBooks Adult

    508 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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