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December 28, 2009 / Don Sanders

The Cuckoo’s Egg

by Clifford Stoll

Between semesters I like to read books from really different areas, so I’m always on the lookout for good reads.  A couple of months ago I was helping a friend move and I was talking with a guy from my church.  He works in computer security for a very well-known company.  In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that this book was really good, so I thought I give it a shot.

There are three things that make this book interesting.  First, it is a true story.  Second, it is kind of funny reading about computer stuff from the 80’s.  Hearing the author describe personal computers and the internet from a 1985 perspective is kind of humorous.  Last, the ramifications of the events that unfold are the stuff that spy novels are made of.

Basically, Cliff Stoll is an astronomer who’s grant money runs out and has to take a job working as a network tech for a research lab.  His first job is to find out why their accounting program is $0.75 off.  He keeps peeling the layers of the onion back and eventually discovers that a hacker has broken into their system.  Thus, a year-long pursuit of an international hacker begins.

I have to admit, that even the 80’s computer lingo, technology, and systems were a bit advanced for me.  Anyone who knows about computer systems would probably understand a lot more of it than I did.  However, the computer descriptions don’t keep the book from being inaccessible to the layman.  It is pretty fast paced and it held my attention until the very end.

If you are a computer geek over 35, you’ll really enjoy this romp through the past.  If you like international espionage, you’ll enjoy it as well.  If you are a conspiracy theorist you’ll have a heyday.  Enjoy!


One Comment

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  1. Todd Stepp / Feb 3 2010 3:34 pm

    Hi Don,

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