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The Cobweb

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  1,968 ratings  ·  121 reviews
From his triumphant debut with Snow Crash to the stunning success of his latest novel, Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson has quickly become the voice of a generation. In this now-classic political thriller, he and fellow author J. Frederick George tell a savagely witty, chillingly topical tale set in the tense moments of the Gulf War.

When a foreign exchange student is found mur
ebook, 448 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Spectra (first published 1996)
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A mediocre Stephenson book is better than no Stephenson book at all.
This is a great story about the events that may have been going on prior to the Iraq war. I loved the way Neal referenced how Washington works. Having spent some time there myself, it brought up some interesting analogies. You see, I know how the government agencies work, and Neal is dead on. I also loved the way he developed the Sheriff and his character. A very entertaining read. Who knows, perhaps the plot is plausible.
Filled with humor and biting irony, "Cobweb" is the best book on the US government that I've read. It's also the best book on the Midwest, and the fact that it manages to be both at the same time is further proof (as if this were necessary) that Neal Stephenson is a treasure.

Fortunately for me, Stephenson spends most of his time in the Science-Fiction / Fantasy genre, but this book, written in his early days, is a classic thriller in the mode of John Le Carré and Robert Ludlum. Since that's not
Poetic Justice
Rarely, if ever, can a joint venture in fiction writing leave such a complete feeling at the end. One example is this one. Another is Interface, predictably enough by the exact same duo.

The writing is so seamlessly forged, it's impossible to tell where one author stops and the other begins. Fast paced, flowing, genuinely funny at times, witty and sarcastic in its entirety, it's one of those books easy on the eye, but engaging enough to let the reader finish it in one go.

Lots of main characters,
Ok, you got me. Red-handed. I surrender. I admit it. I am one of the foreign students that the authors are talking about, who came into this country on the merit of just my brains, who went through the grist mill of a post-graduate program, who found a job below my qualifications, worked at it until something better came along. Yes, all true. And the wonderful thing that happened along the way was ...

... the melting pot, where:
 cultures change, society adopts, people transform, foreign to local
Michael Murdoch

From his triumphant debut with Snow Crash to the stunning success of his latest novel, Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson has quickly become the voice of a generation. In this now-classic political thriller, he and fellow author J. Frederick George tell a savagely witty, chillingly topical tale set in the tense moments of the Gulf War.

**When a foreign exchange student is found murdered at an Iowa University, Deputy Sheriff Clyde Banks finds that his investigation extends far beyond the small college

I enjoyed this political thriller, set just before the onset of the first Gulf War. It draws two very different threads, eventually weaving them into a single whole, although I'm not entirely sure how successfully. The first thread involves deputy sheriff Clyde Banks, his campaign to be elected sheriff and the discovery of a dead foreign student at the bottom of a local lake. The second involves Betsy Vandeventer, a lowish ranking CIA agent, who writes a report that ruffles some feathers and mak ...more
Slow start but very exciting at the end. Dated because it's about the first Gulf war. Not really an alternate history, but a possible behind-the-scenes intrigue.
Great book based on biological warfare and American government; Funny, hard to put down.
I thoroughly enjoyed Neal Stephenson's Zodiac and Snow Crash, and loved The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon. I completely & totally bounced off of the Baroque novels. I put the first one down at about page 300, only to have a friend tell me that "it really picks up after about page 400". Sorry, nothing should be that bloated.

The two novels that he wrote with his uncle, and published under the name Stephen Bury, are The Cobweb and Interface. I really enjoyed both these books when I originally r
Althea Ann
I believe this was the only novel by Neal Stephenson that I hadn't read, so, in the interest of completism, of course I had to read it.
Sadly, I have to admit, it wasn't that good.
Being dated was part of it - it's a political thriller, and well, we know know more about Saddam and his alleged WMDs than Stephenson did when he wrote it.
Stephenson's main point here is: Foreign grad students in the sciences could actually be plants working for enemy governments, using our labs and resources to create
I came across this book about a year ago in Barnes & Noble, and I'd never heard of it. Apparently this was written by Stephenson and his uncle, each using a pseudonym (Stephenson's was Stephen Bury). It's the 2nd of two unrelated novels they wrote together, this originally published in '96, and Interface in '94.

This was written (and is set) shortly after the first Gulf War, and the plot is all about terrorists on American soil, subterfuge and double-dealings, etc. While this isn't necessaril
"Watch out for the iguanas," Larkin had told her. Betsy hadn't understood the reference until recently. But now she saw iguanas all over Washington, people who sat sunning on their rocks, destroying anything or anybody who came within tongue's reach, but doing nothing.

The book centers around several situations in the time just before the first Gulf War, detailing a few different plot lines: DC intel analysts and insiders, a smarter-than-expected deputy sheriff in a big small town in Iowa, and a
Paul Cheney
Slowly but surely Neal Stephenson is creeping up my favourite author list. He has a eclectic genre list that he writes, from modern thriller, cyber books to fantasy.

Cobweb is set in the time of the first Gulf War, when Iraq have invaded Kuwait. In small town America a body of an Arab student turns up following a boating accident; but this student has been consuming alcohol. The local deputy sheriff suspects something fishy and starts to dig around the local university where the student was from.
I just became aware that Stephenson also sometimes writes (or perhaps wrote) under the pseudonym Stephen Bury, and that he had too books I'd never read or heard of. It was like Christmas came early.

As someone said below, a mediocre Stephenson novel is better than no Stephenson novel at all, and I'm not even sure I would call this a mediocre Stephenson novel. It's definitely an early one, and it's pure political thriller, not science fiction at all.

You can feel him bursting to get all his clever
A thoroughly fun, interesting, and cynical romp around the US; from the scientific labs of a midwest research university to Washington DC. The combination of Stephenson's prose and story-telling skills with George's historical knowledge results in an engrossing thriller that questions and criticizes (most explicitly) the federal bureaucracy and the western system of fairly blindly accepting foreign students to drive our university's research programs. While the characters and world clearly didn' ...more
Simply put, The Cobweb is an enjoyable read. It is clearly a work of fiction -- I found there were just too many coincidences that all tie up nicely for me to totally immerse myself in it as if it were a "real" tale. Yet ... there are plenty of interesting, humorous bits that combine to show the humanity (and humor) of the characters.

I enjoyed the book for it's portrayal of folks in the midwest as intelligent, practical human beings. It was an interesting juxtaposition to have the country lifest
Ignored these books for a while despite Stephenson's name on the cover because I'm no sucker for that Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt gambit. Also, not a fan of political thrillers. This was a pleasant surprise. A light political thriller, yes, but richly leavened with Stephenson's wit, depth of character and scientific nerdliness. My apologies to Frederick George if these were his contributions! It touched on several topics dear to my heart including foreign student visas, the politics of university re ...more
Christopher Litsinger
Really deserves 3.5 stars. This is a nice suspenseful political thriller set during the first Bush Gulf War. It was interesting how real people were mixed into the story- although any time I hit George H.W. Bush talking, I heard it in the voice of Dana Carvey doing a Bush impersonation.
Worthy of note- there is nothing very science fictional about this story.
Ivan Idris
I happen to like science fiction and books by Neal Stephenson. This review is about “Cobweb” written by Neal Stephenson and Frederick George. It’s not a science fiction book, but more of a political thriller. A slightly satirical thriller.

Just before the Gulf War starts a brave Deputy County sheriff discovers clues of a conspiracy in the East Iowa University. The suspects are a group of Arab students. A CIA analyst in Washington finds similar clues. Senior management is, of course, not happy wit
I wasn't expecting a Neal Stephenson book to be a thriller when I listened to this book a few years ago. This was high action with lots of bodies. A small Iowa town with a small college is the setting. The Sheriff's deputy (who is thinking about running for sheriff) gets wind of some strange goings on. Seems explosives are being formulated somewhere around town. It's a real romp.
I got turned onto this writing duo from reading "Interface", which is a stellar book as well.

This book is also quite good - and at one point became a page turner. (the kind you wake up at 3AM to read a few more chapters)

This book had less science fiction in it than I prefer but was a great thriller nonetheless. 4.35/5
I loved this book. Even though it was written in the 90's it provokes a lot of thought regarding how terrorism could be being created in America without us having any idea what is happening. Great pacing, great story. Neal Stephenson's books are always smart and a great ride!
This book was one of those "oh well, I don't have anything else to ready right now" kind of books and turned out to be a suprisingly great read. Great characters, good writing and a unique story that was not sci-fi related at all. I really recommend this one.
Huge huge Stephenson fan. This book, not so much. I can't complain about the out-dated nature, the book was from the late 80s/early 90s, and pertains to the first Iraq war from a "what-if" scenario regarding WMDs, bio-terrorism, political maneuvering, and the subversion of our intelligence community.

Early Stephenson could have used more character development of characters other than the main few who had adequate development, but the side stories which develop the less important characters that a
I love his books from the first page all the way through, despite never really knowing where it's all going until the last chapter - which is always disappointing, because the story could go on a while longer!

Also, I haven't found another author who writes female characters better. Or maybe it's that they're always viewed through the eyes of men "madly in love with them" and completely at their mercy which makes it amusing and adorable.
Betsy was great, too.

Topic-wise, Cobweb wasn't what I would
Neither war in general nor U.S. politics and the Middle East are favourite topics of mine (this might not be to my credit, but that's how it is), but Neal Stephenson still manages to have me deeply interested by writing brilliantly. Kudos!
I need to read this one again. Neal Stephenson's books are so interesting and smart. Not always the cleanest books - they are still quite good.
The pacing was a bit wonky at times: when you're in a scene it's very carefully described and there are lots of details. To the point where it seemed slow at times. But between scenes time would elapse with almost no acknowledgment to how much time and very little elaboration or explanation of what happened in between. The POV skips around often and characters had feelings or beliefs but I didn't really know why because that part wasn't described. It was also a bit anticlimactic. But for all tha ...more
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Neal Town Stephenson is an American writer known primarily for his science fiction works in the postcyberpunk genre with a penchant for explorations of society, mathematics, cryptography, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff ...more
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Snow Crash Cryptonomicon The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer Anathem Reamde

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“Clyde had a theory that women had a book, a homemade, photocopied three-ring binder called "Surprising Things to Do in a Relationship," which they passed around to one another, adding pages from time to time, hiding it under the bed. He figured that Desiree could run home tonight and add a new page.” 3 likes
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