Max Lybbert's Reviews > Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

Hackers by Steven Levy
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M 50x66
's review
Feb 12, 2011

did not like it
Read in February, 2011

Why didn't O'Reilly bother to edit out the unneeded phrases like "known to man" ("the best computer in the world known to man")? A decent editor could have cut 20% out of this book, and made it much better in the process.

Additionally, there are enough cases of deep confusion about technical terms and famous events that I had to research any stories I was not already familiar with to see if the details were correct.

The writing is terrible, punctuated with ridiculous narrative commentary. For instance, while discussing a chess program that avoided a loss via an illegal move, Levy asks if the program was finding a new solution to chess. No; it had a bug that caused it to consider illegal moves, and it took one. It's hard to imagine confusing one (bug that causes program to take illegal moves) with the other (sentient program that changes the rules of chess for increased enjoyment). It's also hard to imagine a good editor failing to flag such an ignorant statement.

I have the 25th-anniversary edition and, to be fair, the portions of the book added later (when Levy was older and more experienced) are better written. But that only shows how poor a job the original editor did!

I can understand Dennis Ritchie's anti-foreword to the UNIX Hater's Handbook ( ): "Like excrement, it contains enough undigested nuggets of nutrition to sustain life for some. But it is not a tasty pie. ... Bon appetit!"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Elin Only 20%? I would have said 80%...

Alexander Pope: Words are like leaves and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.

message 2: by Elentarri (new)

Elentarri Thanks for the warning

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