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The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  26 reviews
“An engrossing microcosm of the internet's Wild West years” (Kirkus Reviews), award-winning journalist David Kushner tells the incredible battle between the founder of and the con man who swindled him out of the website, resulting in an all-out war for control for what still powers the internet today: love and sex.

In 1994, visionary entrepreneur Gary Kremen used a $(Kirkus
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  198 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: up-next
3.5 stars. An odd tale of cat & mouse between two unlikely rivals. Less about the early days of the internet and more about how two guys saw an opportunity to make use of a promising technology in the way many new tech advances are first used - selling sex. One tried to do this legally, while the other did anything but. The fact that these two men were in such a significant legal battle, yet spent numerous phone calls sharing stories of their exploits together says something about both.
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As with all of Kushner's books, this one comes highly recommended. A fun read about the early days of the internet domain trade against the backdrop of two remarkable characters.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
banana. pants.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good piece of internet history.
Phil Simon
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tech
I feel silly for not knowing more about this story. I remember the days but somehow the tale of Kremen and Cohen escaped me.

Kushner tells a gripping tale over the battle of and I could barely put it down. The two protagonists were more similar than dissimilar—something that makes for an excellent read.

I'm sure that I'll be reading more of Kushner's books.
Melissa Curvino
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book needed a better copy editor. Glaring typos and unnecessary repetition were distracting.
Elizabeth Stolar
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
On the one hand, this was an entertaining and interesting read. But it felt like it was rushed and I somehow wanted more from it -- there seemed to be large pieces of background information that could have been included to provide a deeper, more nuanced, and more complete picture of what was going on and of the people who were involved. This felt more like I was reading a long magazine article, and again, while it was interesting, I kept thinking the story was being stretched -- the book is only ...more
Greg Talbot
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." - Albert Einstein

Like many young technologists, Gary Kremen envisioned the possibilties of the internet before the public knew about the. He imagined a world of wealth and possibilties exploding around him (p,16). From building his own computer to helping to build the internet network as a model that we understand it (ARPANET), Kremen went on to find success where he imagined the deepest treasures dwel
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting history of the Internet and how the names became to be considered PROPERTY by the courts and thus the need to legally purchase and register them - no more stealing. The story centers around Gary Kremen, founder of and the 0riginal register of that domain name as well as others including the domain name and Stephen Michael Cohen, the thief that stole; or tried to. Kremen subsequently won his case and the Domain Registering Company NSI settled with Kre ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

I read this because there were parallels to Billion Dollar Whale and Bad Blood and I was in my twenties for much of this story so I thought it would be interesting to read about all the craziness during the birth of the internet and domain registration craze. As it turned out, I think this book didn't end up being nearly as interesting as the other two. Maybe the author thought the salacious nature of the topic would be enough to carry the book, or the quirkiness of the main
Ailith Twinning
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I hate how engrossing this was - it was just absurdity, thru and thru, and a gleefully voyeuristic look at what certainly seems, as presented, to be utter madness. I also desperately want to call bullshit on a few things, but, frankly, I wouldn't be too surprised it was all true, for a given value of true.

But, iunno man, I feel like I should hate it because much of the appeal is in disliking the main characters, and that makes me feel kinda dirty and manipulated, and guilty.

I can definitely re
Lena Ro
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Maybe it's because of my background of many years in the computer industry. Maybe it's beause of the suspenseful writing style. For whatever reasson, I couldn't put this book down. It seems as much a novel as a piece of non-fiction, and the book is a well-researched chronicle of a part of the internet I never really knew anything about. And about two men I've never heard of before.

The Players Ball was a great read and I"m definitely glad my book club friend recommended it. I'm not su
Kelly Barth
Aug 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Page 16 "In the Fall of 1987, there was one newcomer wandering across the Stanford University campus who was especially eager to stake his claim: Kremen...."

Page 18 "Wall Street, which is just where Gary Kremen found himself in the summer of 1982, at age of nineteen. It was the summer after his freshman year at the Stanford..."

Gary Kremen did his bachelor's at Northwestern. I'm not interested in spending my time on a non-fiction book that has obvious factual and grammatic
Dave Wheeler
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fantastic and wild ride through the true story of the battle over the internet domain
Kushner is a great writer, the story is told briskly but also thoroughly and it illuminates not only how some internet concepts were born (like subscription services, payment portals, domain names being protected property) but it’s also a wild tale about the two visionary men at odds who helped give birth to the internet as we know it today. Well worth the read, it is incredible.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book received for free through NetGalley

I loved this book. I'm not normally a non-fiction reader so that's saying something there. This book made you wonder how it would all ho down and you want to follow along on the journey. Not once did I want to Google to find out how it ended up as the book was so great.
John McPhee
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is PURE GOLD - read it!!

The true unvarnished story of the chaos that was the internet from 1993-2003. A true story with two unforgettable characters - worthy hero GARY Kremen and his far less worthy nemesis (for far too long). How The Good Guy Won The Internet!!
Peggy Kruger
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by this book as I met my boyfriend on This book, however, was much more than the history of the founding of It’s about two nerdy geniuses trying to outsmart each other. It’s a cat and mouse game full of intrigue. I loved it.
Jennie Wurtz
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting account of the early days of the World Wide Web and how two men battled for decades over a domain ownership. I found it fascinating at times, it read like a novel especially since I was not at all familiar with this particular story.
Neil McGee
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book brings awareness to a side of the internet many are not aware of, the man is truly a genius that ultimately has to struggle with the unlimited choices before him.

Very enjoyable read.

Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Starts off slow and kind of boring, but if you grew up in the late 70's early 80's and got into computers early on, it becomes an excellent story. Not to mention it involves sex,, and the most relevant and important legal action in the U.S. regarding ownership of a URL.
Daniel Farabaugh
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
My favorite part of this book was remembering how difficult it was to use the internet in the 1990's. Overall this was a good read with an interesting take on the central conflict. The people involved really come to life.
Austin Pierce
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One hell of a book. Both the story and the telling of it are amazing.
Zimran Ahmed
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story
James McGlynn
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Strange tale of founder and te domain name thief.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it The book is about the creator of that site, maybe. Interesting. Not lewd or graphic. An interesting read, actually 3.5 or 3.6 stars.
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Jun 15, 2019
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Aug 12, 2019
Scott Freeman
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Oct 19, 2018
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Aug 25, 2019
Marie A
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Jun 10, 2019
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David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a contributing editor of Wired, Rolling Stone, and Spectrum and is an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.