Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier” as Want to Read:
Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  598 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Suelette Dreyfus and her co-author, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, tell the extraordinary true story of the computer underground, and the bizarre lives and crimes of an elite ring of international hackers who took on the establishment. Spanning three continents and a decade of high level infiltration, they created chaos amongst some of the world's biggest and most power ...more
Hardcover, 475 pages
Published June 6th 1997 by Mandarin (first published 1997)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Underground, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Underground

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  598 ratings  ·  60 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found this one to be a very entertaining read.

Firstly, being one with a strong IT background I expected to quickly feel "at home". Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, I was very much hoping to "relive" my personal experiences with the "early" (inter)net - to be confirmed in my own perceptions if you will.

Then was time when you could still snoop around the net openly without second guesses and immediate fear of persecution - ultimately with a wish to simply learn as the driving force
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
2/5 - It was ok. I’m fascinated by stories like this, but the way that the stories were presented in the book resulted in a combination of perseverance and dread. The stories are overall entertaining and intriguing if you’re interested in history like this. Unfortunately, Dreyfus includes a lot of unnecessary information. I assume that Dreyfus included the additions to facilitate a better understanding of the characters. Unfortunately, on some of the characters the additional information does no ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hacker-culture
A unique glimpse into the early hacker culture of the 80s and 90s. It's good to have this recorded - the early internet and its curious pioneers.

"Now we look back to that time as a sort of Paradise Lost – the peacetime internet of incredible growth and innovation. The ideas we are now debating – such as freedom of information – sprang to life from this fertile ground."
Eric Phetteplace
Jan 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: prose
A chronicle of the early days of hacking in the 1990s, primarily focused on Australian hackers but with some British and American characters in there too. I guess I expected a little too much from this book as I was mainly interested in the technical side of things, which it does go into a little at parts but not enough for me. On the whole, though, it's just not well-written. Almost every narrative jumps around awkwardly as Dreyfus tries to fill in extraneous details she forgot to mention at th ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I love these glimpses into the minds of hackers and how everything worked before the Internet. Sharing, openness and then changes coming with new laws brought on by few "black sheep".

Some of these stories are unbelievable. Some are sad. Some are funny. I enjoyed all of them. Well done
Sagar Acharya
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must book for nerds. A true account on Australian, British and US hackers.

It shows the earliest ways to abuse computers and law and how phreakers and hackers having amazing handles brought about mischief, havoc and how they were penalised in their respective laws.

"Byteman", damn what a handle! I laughed for about two minutes on this wordplay.

Many sides of hacking like social engineering (getting things done by talking in a way), limited access exploiting for extracting free calls around 1990,
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good read about the hacker/phreaker scene in Australia around 1990. We follow a few young persons as they dig into phone and computer systems, what happens when they are caught and what happend after that. It's was interesting to read about the passion that drove them, but they all had quite sad stories as well.

The book feels authentic and does a good job balancing technical stuff with the characters social life.

The author's position is that breaking in to computer systems and snoop ar
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recover from any investment platform, recover from any fraud, hack cashapp, recover from dating scam, upgrade credit score, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media hacks, school result upgrade, spouse real-time tracking and others. wisetechhacker @ gmail com
Have you ever been tempted to get involved in binary options? Have you had a bad experience? Have you been scammed?
Binary options trading scams are very frequent and binary option loss recovery can be difficult but not impossibl
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Many years since I last read it but it was intriguing at the time. I'd been on Melbourne BBS's around that time and caught snippets of what was going on. The book made sense of what I'd seen. At the time of first reading it Assange was not a name you knew so the latter revelations made the story even more amazing.

Perhaps it's dated now - I'll find out when I return to read it for a third time sometime soon.
Julian Assange writes one of the Introductions, appears as one of the hackers and is mentioned briefly in a short passage on Wikileaks which appears to have been tacked onto the end of the book.

IMHO Assange should not have been given credit as the co-author. In my case, it was his name on the cover that persuaded me to buy the ebook in the first place...
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
It is a gripping tale alright.
It is detailed and descriptive but in an effort to not choose sides or make a value judgement on the matter in context , it comes across as pointless in the end.

It had me invested but maybe my expectations were much higher.
Alec Short
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Fabulous insight into the startings of the internet for consumers, the hacks around connectivity but also the sub-culture that developed. Inspiring to those who may already dabble with hacking at different levels and a lovely reminder of the complacency of companies when it comes to their security.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
You might be interested to read this book, when you learn, that Mendax, one of the teenage hackers, is Julian Assange.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved every single page of that book! Will definitely read it again a few times🖤🖤
Jul 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: 55c-it-2
I have the german edition.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the best text on the early years of hacking. Of great social value to those even outside the computing and hacking world. Features a teenage Julian Assange.
Robyn Lewis
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic look at hacking, phreaking and general technological tomfoolery before it was all done for profit, corporate espionage and military purposes. I really kept yearning to know more - Dreyfus includes enough little details to get you really hooked.
Brian Palmer
Apr 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
Writing a book on hacking, computer security, and so forth is hard. When this was written, back in 1997, it was surely even harder, as the general audience this book is aimed at was presumably less familiar with the technical details of "cyberspace." Dreyfus manages to make it work and capture a snapshot of the feel behind some of the (primarily Australian) hackers she features in the book.

I read this from a PDF that's freely available on the book's website; it was presented in a fixed-width, ty
Patrick DiJusto
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Pretty interesting book about the hacker subculture of the late 80s and early 90s -- in Australia. Yes, the smallest continent, a land that for a time had a _single_ T3 cable serving the entire nation, had a thriving hacker community. Who knew?

The stories are pretty much the same as every hacker story everywhere: a bunch of nerdy aspie teenage guys stay up late at night making their way through the local telephone company computers. From there they access universities, and from there they visit
Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suelette Dreyfus has compiled an intriguingly honest account of Melbourne's underground hacking community. Julian Assange, editor in chief of the notorious whistle blower site WikiLeaks, assists in the telling of this eye-opening, detailed development of Australian hacking, his role in The International Subversives, and ultimately it's influence on international hacking. Lovers are crossed, families are betrayed or betray and the secret service have more than their fair share of the spotlight to ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, kindle
The Kindle edition had wonky formatting, so be warned. Reading this made me pay closer attention to the Lulz Security attacks going on this year. I think it also made me more sympathetic? More pro-LulzSec? More interested in learning about the curiosities and drives that make up young hackers? Something. In any case, Suelette weaves a good story. Worth a read, even if you're not in the computer industry - there's very little technical jargon that's not explained, so no matter what, you'll be abl ...more
Vasil Kolev
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tech, history
This is just too short. There are a few cases in it, but there isn't really a whole picture (and I'm pretty sure there was enough material to paint it). The people described in the book are exemplary of the field, but that's really not enough.

The book is also a nice description of Julian Assange (aka Mendax), who also helped with it (so, the usual grain of salt applies).

It's interesting that some stuff still hasn't changed since then...
Chris Malia
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have never gotten through a book faster than this. You might think a book about hacking would be boring, but the chapters are all well told. And the book today is more pertinent than ever, as hactivism has pushed its way into public discourse. Assange writes the forward, and is now public enemy number 1. You don't need to be a tech person to understand the book--a huge plus. Best part of all, it's free. ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well, lets see.

There are definite Assange undertones to this book. But it is also a tale told from the perspective of the hacking community in the 1980s.

The flavor, of the atmosphere and the taste of the character's naiveté definitely struck a chord when I read this in the late 90s. Although it's supposed to be a mostly true story, you can tell it contains some embellishments for the sake of the story, and the subject's privacy.

All in all a well rounded book.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011, cs, geek
I'm a geek by trade, and the reason I stumbled into my line of work is that I've always been highly fascinated by communications networks. Underground deals with some of the early history of hacking, which might be an acquired taste, but for those of us interested in the field it's an interesting and engaging read. ...more
Interesting nostalgic read. I remember the time and some of the people mentioned. Oh, the days of the Commodore 64 and the even more wonderful Amiga.

After a rather slow and laborious beginning, delving into the not too interesting details of the attack on NASA, I became more engaged with the lives of the hackers and Ken Day and his colleagues' under-resourced campaign to bring them to justice.
An account of hackers and their underground world. Tells the story of Par, a hacker that was on the run from the US secret service, and of Julian Assange's hacking days in Australia, among other stories. A must read for piecing together a history of computer hacking. Assange helped with the book and wrote the preface. ...more
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
a re-read from many moons ago, and enjoyed it rather more first time round. it's much better at giving insight into the personalities involved and their motivation, than it is at providing a quality reading experience. but the former is sufficiently interesting that the book doesn't suffer too much for it.
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really well written and researched book. I could hardly stop reading this. It made me wish I was a little bit more computer-literate, which would probably allow me to understand more of the finer points of the story.
Still a great read though.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A nice, compelling story about a couple of hackers in the late eighties and the early nineties. I also read "Inside WikiLeaks", in which someone calls Julian by the name Mendax.

Could it be that Mendax in the Underground book is Julian Assange himself? Or this just an easter egg?
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
  • Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground
  • The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
  • Postcards From South Africa
  • No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
  • The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Flaws
  • Industrial Society and Its Future
  • How to Steal a Million: The Memoirs of a Russian Hacker
  • Help
  • Parsnips, Buttered: How to baffle, bamboozle and boycott your way through modern life
  • To Be a Machine : Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death
  • The Diary of Anne Frank: And Related Readings
  • GCHQ: Centenary Edition
  • Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers
  • Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
  • The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)
  • Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Oh hey, we're nearly halfway through 2021! We can't really believe it either... Traditionally, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial...
62 likes · 9 comments