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The Cobweb

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  2,769 ratings  ·  161 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 m
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Spectra Books (first published 1996)
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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,769 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it
A mediocre Stephenson book is better than no Stephenson book at all.
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: political
*** 3.25 ***

I have to be honest, I did not enjoy this book very much and only finished it because I have an illness - a compulsion to finish every book or series I start, of go insane thinking about it with a feeling that I have something hanging over my head and it makes me feel twitchy!!!

I realize this is not a shining recommendation for the book, but I don't think I would recommend it to anyone I know anyway... I am not dissing the author - I adore most of his work and he is one of my all ti
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 24, 2013 added it
Shelves: fiction, sff, 2014
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
Poetic Justice
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 My first 'spy novel' I enjoyed. Good plot, characters who didn't seem too artificial. Nothing amazing, but much more engaging than anything on spies I have read before. This indeed is quite weird, as I enjoy spy movies and did like detective books as a teenager. This one though is the first after a couple of tries (with classics like john le Carré) which made me pretty pessimistic about them. This one though, maybe due to world building or character construction more similar to scifi or susp ...more
Manu Castellanos
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Qué decir de este maravilloso autor... todo lo que escribe es oro literario.
Una novela bien llevada con personajes muy creíbles y reales. Entrelaza la acción de forma fluida y hace que uno no se canse de leer... lo típico, no te cansas y lees más.
Las historias son inteligentes y aún resultando algo típicas, es capaz de hacer que sean interesantes y te resulten únicas. Un tecno-triller que no pasa de moda pues esta novela está escrita a finales del siglo XX.
Una novela de ciencia ficción que suena
Florin Pitea
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
A decent techno-thriller. The two writers did much better when they published Interface.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a big Neal Stephenson fan, especially his Baroque Cycle (see Quicksilver). This tale does not disappoint. In typical Stephensonian form we have multiple points of view, each distinct and interesting. My favorite was Deputy Sheriff Clyde Banks who is our erstwhile hero, and saves us on the homefront from a nasty plot hatched during the First Gulf War. There is good humor in the telling of the tale, with many details of college town life told with great love and affection. Clyde is a man of a ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Max Nemtsov
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
В очередной раз — нет ничего лучше туго скроенного политико-шпионски-конспирологического триллера о людях, которые занимаются своим делом и при этом знают, что делают (это не тавтология, а не сильно очевидное по нынешним временам уточнение). Мило и весело, картинки из жизни закулисья американской администрации очень знакомы.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very different sort of book by one of my favorite authors.
Little in the way of science fiction, but some interesting biology stuff.
I just enjoy Stephenson's characters so much, it made the book fun.
Also, the plot had good mystery in it, which Stephenson also does well!
Not sure what to make of the politics in the book.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great book based on biological warfare and American government; Funny, hard to put down.
Costin Manda
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
The Cobweb is not a sci-fi story, just a fiction thriller. It happens in modern day America, where a small town cop slowly unravels a plot of international proportions and implications. He has to foil it with no help from (or rather against) the corrupted systems of university academia and government security and diplomatic agencies.

Actually, this is the main subject of the book, if I can say so: Throat cutting internal politics inside the CIA, the rule that CIA operations cannot take place insi
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Tom Clancy's readers
It's well written and fluent political thriller populated by interesting character ... and that's all. Stephenson wrote better novels - Reamde is made in the same vein, but it is much more flamboyant.
But yet, it is still the Stephenson. Why I love to read his works is because they are full of clever people - heroes (as much as they are not very heroic, only ordinary people) are clever and villains are clever too. It's so rare to have a plot based not on people behaving stupidly, but smartly. As
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I pulled this down from the library one night when I was coughing too hard to sleep and it nursed me through several long nights. That I’d read it before in no way diminished my absorption in this clever tale of spies, bureaucrats, and terrorists set during the first Iraq war under the elder Bush (who gets a cameo appearance). I couldn’t say which parts are Stephenson and which George but the amalgam is seamless. Good fun.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is the worst book I've read in a long while. Boring and cookie cutter characters, combined with a story and POV that would only appeal to Americans. Basically this is like the plot of something I would have expected from a die hard movie. NS is one of my favourite authors so I'm appalled he co-wrote this book. It's dropped my impression of him from prophet to... Oh yeah he writes some really good stuff and there was that one bad one.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the books that I could read again. Beyond the enthralling cloak and dagger it gets right the background - very right. The academic research world (a Stephenson favourite), the American midwest and the political machinations of government bureaucrats. The last one is done so well and insightfully that Cobweb could be described as a political thriller first and a cowboys v indians caper second.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
If you like cloak and dagger novels then this book is certainly for you. Book has all the major acronym agencies involved with spy games, lots of thrilling detective work and finishes with all out brawl.
Danny Leybzon
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Not enough science
Daniel Díez
Feb 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mala y fallida novela, y cuanto más avanza peor te lo pone. Nada recomendable.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Even worse than Reamde; still fun to read. Not terribly technical and pretty dated. But still has Stephenson's sense of humor baked in and some interesting history about intelligence agencies.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Made me laugh, then made me cry. Quite cynical, yet very positive about the true virtues of our citizkens and nation.
Eric Peterson
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just like "Interface", a fast-paced (somewhat) political thriller - and hilarious even amid the not-hilarious plot. I loved it.
Russell Edwards
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I enjoyed the twists of different characters ending up working on the same conclusion.
Anthony Orso
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written and very enjoyable.
Bob Jamieson
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic thriller Stephenson is fun Stephenson.
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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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
“The people who know the most are not allowed to ask questions—or even to make suggestions. The least common denominator sets the standards. Just wait until you see Washington, Betsy—these goddamn car salesmen and small-town lawyers come into town every two years not knowing their ass from a hole in the ground, and this enormously sophisticated and powerful and dangerous system is at their mercy. The Agency distorts information to fit the half-assed policies they scheme up.” 1 likes
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