SCIENCES

Totally Wired: The Rise and Fall of Josh Harris and the Great Dotcom Swindle

Smith, Andrew. Grove. Mar. 2019. 412p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780802129345. pap. $17. TECH
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Smith (Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth) chronicles the career of Josh Harris and the dotcom boom and bust of 1990s New York City. The book represents four years of original research, including many meetings and interviews with Harris. It's clear that much work has gone into this volume, but like the monies that were funneled into many failed dotcom businesses, readers may wonder what the point of it all is. For historians of New York, the imagery of the setting is enjoyable and perhaps illuminating. However, Harris, although a fascinating character, is an unsympathetic protagonist, and reading about his life is at times quite tedious. In some ways this work is similar to Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs, although Harris is arguably a more sympathetic subject than Jobs.
VERDICT For readers who enjoy biographical studies related to Internet history, this will be enjoyable. For those who find aspects of startup culture tiresome, so, too, will be this book, well-written as it is.

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