What the Critics say about Underground

`A real pleasure'

"..it's a real pleasure to find a writer who brings genuine perception to the subject. Suelette Dreyfus is such a writer, and `Underground', published by the Australian imprint, Mandarin, is such a book.. quite a tale of human frailty. It's strength comes not from the feats of hacking it portrays -- and there are plenty of them -- but in the emotional and physical cost to the players.. Those inclined to seek the unvarnished truth will find `Underground' an excellent read. "

-- George Smith, Crypt News
For the complete review click here.

`Gripping, eminently readable'

"This is not just another book about the Internet; it's an entirely original focus on the bizarre lives and crimes of an extraordinary group of teenage hackers.. Gripping, eminently readable.. Dreyfus has uncovered one of this country's best kept secrets and in doing so has created a highly intense and enjoyable read."

-- Rolling Stone

`Meticulously researched'

"In this riveting, real-life yarn, Dreyfus develops a meticulously researched psychological and social profile of hackers.. [She] makes the esoteric world of the hacker accessible to the average reader."

-- Australian Bookseller & Publisher

`Dreyfus is one smart cookie'

"The reader is readily drawn forward into the eddies of the underground by the thrust and parry of the hackers and their pursuers. Addiction, dysfunction, obsession and their outcome are all portrayed in a fascinating manner. Ms. Dreyfus is one smart cookie with depth of character and rapid pacing.. Dive into the UNDERGROUND and be swept into a thrilling elite realm."

-- Ed Burns, IBIC

`Thoroughly researched'

"A book about computer hackers called Underground, by Suelette Dreyfus, is a thoroughly researched detailing of the lifestyles of hackers. Including interviews with members of several notable hacking groups, Underground appears to make the case that hardcore computer hackers are obsessive-compulsive, with an addiction to the thrill of hacking. Now two years old, the book is a fascinating piece of investigative journalism that creates a disturbing psychological profile of malicious hackers."

-- Jim Reavis, Network World, "A psychological profile of hackers"

`Highly original.. investigative journalism'

"[Underground] is a highly original, imaginative and accessible piece of investigative journalism.. Dreyfus is an able narrator. She has the wisdom to realise that the best way to tell a colourful story is in the plainest language possible. The characters she describes are peculiar enough; Mendax, who keeps his computer disks in a beehive; Electron, with his delusions of being a reincarnation of Buddha; paranoid Parmaster and his Swiss cybersqueeze Theorem. They need little embellishment.. there is much..to admire in the doggedness with which Dreyfus follows her subjects, re-creates their complex misadventures and links them into a satisfactory whole. It speaks highly of Underground that some chapters stand comparison with Cliff Stoll's terrific technodunit The Cuckoo's Egg (1989).. Underground does offer some excellent journalism. As with Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown (1992), its most disturbing aspect is how overwhelmingly dependent we have become on computers.. the hackers gain entry to big databases as routinely as someone hurdling a low picket fence. At least one bank computer spits out credit card numbers as willingly as a dog currenders a ball. Time and time again, administrators have to turn to pen and paper because it's the only secure and indelible means of recording information. For those sick of bullish cyberpiffle, Underground contains any amount of counterintelligence.."

-- Gideon Haigh, Australian Literary Suppliment

`Genuinely fascinating'

"Historians often bemoan the loss of written records of day-to-day life, a process that started in earnest when the telephone began ousting mail in mainstream communications. Computers have led to an even greater fall in permanent written records in the last 20 years. Which is just one reason why Suelette Dreyfus' Underground is such a valuable work. Dreyfus is not (as the publicity for the book might lead us to believe) blowing the whistle on today's computer hackers, with all the Big Brother/pornscape fear-mongering that might entail. Instead, she's documenting the recent history of computer culture.. the things they [the hackers] occasionally discover, and the over-reaction of those around them, are genuinely fascinating. Dreyfus does not attempt any sleights of hand with jargon.. The true stories of Underground are simply compelling."

-- David Nichols, The Big Issue

`Best hacker book'

"This is the best hacker book I've read--it goes into sufficient depth regarding a few cases to explain the motivations and backgrounds of the hackers involved, which most hacker books gloss over or ignore. It also displays a level of research and technical understanding not matched by other hacker books. Highly recommended."

-- Jim Lippard

`Suelete Dreyfus hat hier Abhilfe geschaffen'

"Down under: von Australien ist selten die Rede, wenn es darum geht, wie Hacker sich Zugang zu verbotenen Rechnersystemen verschaffen. Suelette Dreyfus hat hier Abhilfe geschaffen. Und es geht nicht um einen beliebigen Hack, sondern um die US-Raumfahrsbeh^vrde NASA. Wie es australischen Hackern gegangen ist, wen sie angegriffen haben und was trotz alledem aus ihnen geworden ist, beschreibt die Autorin auf fast 500 Seiten. Suelette Dreyfus mit Julian Assange; Underground; Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier; Kew, Australien (Mandarin/Reed) 1997; 475 Seiten; DM (Paperback)" -- iX, Germany

`Riviting read'

"So mysterious are computer hackers, so deeply anonymous and sinister, that they almost seem more legend than reality. So it comes as some sort of relief to have them flushed out into the open by Suelette Dreyfus in UNDERGROUND (Mandarin, $19.95), the first Australian book to document the activities and psychopathology of hackers.. Dreyfus has researched her subject comprehensively and transformed archival data and interviews into a hard-to-put-down narrative.. The book opens suspensefully with a gripping account of the invasion of the WANK worm into the computer networks of NASA. This politically misguided but extremely disruptive piece of international hacking finally was traced to.. Dreyfus then examines leading hackers, offering an open-minded account of their lives, attitudes, techniques, accomplishments and downfalls. She captures the spirit of their backroom world and the obsessive nature of their mindsets with a degree of sympathy, but never seeking to excuse them of wrong-doing.. Underground is a landmark book in its disclosures about this dark underbelly of the information technology revolution. It raises questions about society and family values, education, corporate security, police procedures and the ability of the legal system to deal with this new form of crime. And it is a riveting read."

-- Samela Harris, The Adelaide Advertiser

`Especialmente interesante'

"Esta novela, basada en hechos reales, cuenta las andanzas de un grupo de hackers australianos y sus aventuras en las redes. Al igual que otras novelas sobre hackers, Underground acerca al lector al «lado oscuro» de la Red describiendo varias historias de forma entretenida y explicando, de forma sencilla y elegante, los métodos utilizados y el entorno de cada aventura. Narra varios casos diferentes, situados en el tiempo a partir de 1989, sobre hackers que se introdujeron en la red de la NASA (e introdujeron el «gusano WANK»), la conexión australiana con hackers americanos, los BBS dedicados al lado oculto de la Red, utilizados por hackers y phreakers («piratas telefónicos») y muchas pequeñas historias de casos que tuvieron algo de publicidad en los medios de comunicación. Entre las más llamativas se encuentra el caso del «asalto» a la red de Citybank en Australia, donde los intrusos intentaron hacerse con más de medio millón de dólares. El libro no se dedica sólo a las aventuras divertidas: también indaga en las personalidades de los hackers, su comportamiento habitualmente antisocial, sus problemas familiares y a veces con las drogas, así como la (inevitable) captura por parte de las autoridades, posterior juicio y estancia en prisión de la mayoría de ellos. La descripción de las detenciones, registros y procesos legales es especialmente interesante. El libro tiene como fuentes a varios grupos de hackers australianos y todas las sentencias de los casos de asaltos informáticos de esa época." -- Cripto, Spain

`Skall du läsa Underground'

"Underground är skriven på en lättfattlig och snabbt flytande engelska med glimten i ögat. Boken är helt enkelt det bästa som skrivits om hacking sedan Clifford Stoll publicerade Cuckoo's Egg. Oavsett om du är intresserad av den sociala bakgrunden hos de bästa hackarna, tuffa hack eller av vilka som kan hota ditt företags säkerhet skall du läsa Underground. Även den som bara är intresserad av en schysst deckare kommer att uppskatta boken. Läs den." -- Mikael Pawlo, Internet World
For the complete review click here.

`Couldn't put it down'

"I couldn't put `Underground' down during a long flight last week.. [the Author's] frank and unabashed account of an eclectic mix of home-grown hackers and their overseas counterparts makes compelling reading for those of us who want more than just salacious and hyped snippets.. Underground is..backed up by..detailed technical research.. She puts flesh on the bones of many of these..teenage rebels, who..have made a counter-culture protest against the telcos, Big Brother, the Feds, the military and other authoritarian figures.. The dark side of their lives is revealed in all its..ruthlessness.. surrounded in many instances by surprisingly mundane.. brick veneer homes.." -- Trudie MacIntosh, The Australian

`Reads like a thriller'

"SUELETTE DREYFUS's Underground is an absorbing book about young Australian hackers who wreak havoc in the world of high technology. It reads like a thriller, but the story is based on fact and begins when NASA officials arrive one Monday morning to discover something is not quite right. You have to feel a little sorry for the scientists, who watch helplessly as years of research delete, delete, delete before their eyes. Reed, $16.95." -- The Age

`Meeslepende book'

"Lees hier alles over het nieuwe en meeslepende boek van Suelette Dreyfus over de computer-onderwereld en de misdaden van een elitaire hackers-bende die de gevestigde orde omver wist te stoten. (Engels)" -- Digiface, Netherlands

`Keeps the reader glued to the page'

"[the Author].. keeps the reader glued to the page as [the hackers].. hack and phreak their way around phone systems, X.25 networks, and the Internet, breaking into systems of all kinds and sparring with administrators, security experts, and law enforcement.. [the Author] has clearly done her research well. She does an excellent job of conveying mood and atmosphere.. What is most impressive, however, is the personal detail she has managed to garner about her subjects: more than anything else, it is this is which gives Underground its appeal."

-- Danny Yee, Danny Yee's review of books

`Joy knew no bounds'

"I'm grateful to Ms Dreyfus for introducing me to a number of first-rate subversives. And my joy knew no bounds when I discovered that some of the best of the electronic anarchists were Australian. At a time when the country's going down the gurgler, it was good to feel a rush of national pride."

-- Phillip Adams, `Late Night Live', Radio National

`Aventure book for the brain'

"Underground is an adventure book for the brain .. Cowboys .. roamed unpatrolled electronic frontiers. Some made it into the systems of powerful organisations, [where] the hackers would leave their mark - akin to flashing a virtual brown-eye - [and] .. cause chaos to the powers that be. Underground takes us inside these gods of a new technology.. It's an action story."

-- Sarah Mcdonald, `Creatures of the Spotlight', Triple J Radio

`A tale of madness'

"A tale of madness, paranoia and brilliance among Australian computer hackers - and how they nearly brought NASA undone."

-- The Weekend Australian Magazine

`Superior true-crime'

UNDERGROUND by Suellete Dreyfus is a superior true-crime account of the activities of a loosely organized network of Australian hackers..this title is not yet available from Amazon.com, but it can be ordered on-line via the book's Web site at http://underground.org/book.. Excellent reporting..

-- Editor, IBIC

If you would like to give some feedback on Underground, please mail the author, suzieq, using this address: suburbia.com.au, or the researcher, julian, by mailing feedback at the domain name underground-book.com. This is an anti-spam format.

See what the readers and the on-line readers (2001) have to say