- The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History
- Publisher: Hill and Wang
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 272
The first time I physically remember hearing the Yugo referenced in pop culture was seeing Die Hard with a Vengeance on TV (this must have been 1997 or so, when I was 12 or 13), though I must have known about it before because I laughed: Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson drive a commandeered Yugo down a busy freeway, and when Bruce (John) complains about their pokey pace, Samuel (Zeus) replies “It’s a Yugo; it’s built for economy, not for speed!”
I somehow realized or knew, though I don’t remember how or when I would have learned it, that the word “Yugo” was a punchline for a car only a few steps better than a pennyracer. Jason Vuic’s The Yugo is the story of how the hapless automobile came to be the butt of so many jokes, but also how it ever-so-briefly was a commercial success, and how one enigmatic business was behind it all.
- Publisher: Twelve
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 816
Christopher Hitchens’ recent diagnosis of cancer is bad news for all the readers who appreciate his profound and prolific output as a writer of political journalism, social commentary, and literary review (this latter, naturally, encompassing both the former). A man who “writes faster than most people talk” naturally generates no small œuvre. Hitchen’s last book of collected writings was Love, Poverty, and War in 2003, and it’s no surprise that Arguably, his latest compendium—and morbidly, the last which will not be posthumous—is a hefty eight-hundred pages of essays hand-picked from Hitchens’ various media—Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Slate, and no few introductions to reissued classics—without likely exhausting the pool.
- Chocolate Wars
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 352
If you’re curious as to the strange coincidence that someone named Cadbury is writing a book about the history of British chocolatiers, cease your cogitating: Deborah Cadbury is, in fact, a direct relation of the family which ran the largest chocolate business of the isles, though she is admittedly several steps laterally distant from the immediate chocolate-making family. If, now that you know this, you’re troubled as to the possibility that Deborah Cadbury may not, therefore, be the most reliable narrator, you may once again cool your firing neurons, because I can say with little hesitation that your fears are justified.
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 432
Social Engineering was my hobby horse as an undergraduate IT major; I say this as though I’m an old veteran of the IT industry, but I’m not—I’m a fresh-faced, startup-mentality programmer. One of the reasons I always focused on social engineering in my various papers and projects, however, is I was exposed early to the idea of Kevin Mitnick. This isn’t to say I was particularly familiar with his exploits, or even well-versed in the technology of his area, but the notion that you could con your way into systems without necessarily programming or “hacking” was easy enough to understand.
- Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
- Publisher: Harper Perennial
- Year: 2005
- Pages: 464
I’ve been familiar with Simon Winchester only for his two books about the Oxford English Dictionary, namely The Professor and the Madman and The Meaning of Everything. I’d made the lazy assumption that Winchester major field of interest was, therefore, dictionaries and language in general. It wasn’t until I picked up Krakatoa that I noticed his bibliography is not only voluminous, but multifarious as well, spanning people, major events, and obviously major publications.