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Cult of the Dead Cow

How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World
Written by: Joseph Menn
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins
Categories: Science & Math, Technology
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The shocking untold story of the elite secret society of hackers fighting to protect our privacy, our freedom - even democracy itself...

Cult of the Dead Cow is the tale of the oldest, most respected, and most famous American hacking group of all time. Though until now it has remained mostly anonymous, its members invented the concept of hacktivism, released the top tool for testing password security, and created what was for years the best technique for controlling computers from afar, forcing giant companies to work harder to protect customers. They contributed to the development of Tor, the most important privacy tool on the net, and helped build cyberweapons that advanced US security without injuring anyone. 

With its origins in the earliest days of the Internet, the cDc is full of oddball characters - activists, artists, even future politicians. Many of these hackers have become top executives and advisors walking the corridors of power in Washington and Silicon Valley. The most famous is former Texas Congressman and current presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, whose time in the cDc set him up to found a tech business, launch an alternative publication in El Paso, and make long-shot bets on unconventional campaigns.

Today, the group and its followers are battling electoral misinformation, making personal data safer, and battling to keep technology a force for good instead of for surveillance and oppression. Cult of the Dead Cow shows how governments, corporations, and criminals came to hold immense power over individuals and how we can fight back against them.

©2019 Joseph Menn (P)2019 PublicAffairs

What the critics say

"Long before there was a multi-billion dollar cyber industry, there were some ethical hackers who showed us that the Silicon Valley emperors had no clothes. They looked like misfits, but they showed us how insecure the Internet was and how to make it better. Joe Menn makes this previously untold story entertaining and relevant to today's cyber threats." (Richard A. Clarke, first White House "Cyber Czar")

"Cult of the Dead Cow reveals a story few know about the origins of white hat hacking and the heroes it celebrates. Despite the title, hacking isn't dead yet!" (Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the internet)

"Cult of the Dead Cow is an exhilarating and essential look into a part of the hacker underground that has shaped the modern world in profound ways. Readers will be amazed by this crew of eccentric, impassioned geniuses who have so often served as the Internet's conscience while lurking unknown in the shadows. The depth of Joe Menn's reporting is as astonishing as his storytelling - no one could have captured this tale better." (Ashlee Vance, author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future)

What members say

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hard to get into

Unlike the other infosec books on Audible, this one has been a chore to get into. Perhaps the rather monotone delivery of the narrator or the plethora of different characters to follow, just feels like listing to someone reading an entire section of Wikipedia.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-06-27

Loved it

Great books great narrating as well. Fills in the gaps of things that happened in hacker culture between the ghost in the wires book and the Anonymous book and much more. Really enjoyed it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • tyson l woodruff
  • 2019-08-29

Fascinating and astonishing

It is so amazing that a group of misfits became the biggest and most in packful hacker group in the entire world.l I recommend this book to anyone who is intrested in how cyber security and hacking entangles with the rest of societie.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sam Kopp
  • 2019-12-18

Liberal Bias Rife and Unchecked

My takeaway: Cult of the dead cow is not so much a hacker group that happens to be involved in politics as it is a radical leftist group that happens to be involved in hacking.

There is no critical self reflection about the parts that the left may have wrong.

Unless you want more noise in your liberal echo chamber, save your money, save your time.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Adam Cloud
  • 2019-10-14

Started off good. Just more propaganda

Cunning book that has a subtle difference between the retelling of a story and the insertion of propaganda. The book would tell of something that was happening, then would casually insert their assessment of what it means as if it were fact....much of which has since been disproven. The things that the book chose to share, while omitting the other things gave a clear bias, which isn't surprising considering it was written to "provide context", or rather play PR for, Beto O'rourke To try and manipulate people politically through book of intrigue is just stupid.

14 people found this helpful

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  • V
  • 2019-09-18

I literally cannot recommend this book enough.

Just a great read, whether you're a security / IT professional or just a casual reader.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ahdumb
  • 2019-07-25

If you ran a bbs, or ever visited one...

....Then this book is for you. Even if you didn’t, it’s a wonderful book that you will get some history lessons from....

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-07-15

Good book listen with an open mind

A little bias on the liberal side but overall an enjoyable book brought back some memories.

5 people found this helpful

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  • C. Gahagan
  • 2019-09-26

Skip it, biased shill for Robert Francis

Devolves into a biased shill for Robert Francis. I should have known better. Hours of my life I want back.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2019-06-19

An insightful look into hacker history.

If you like hacking and the pioneers of HACKTIVISM then this is the book for you.

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  • Stuart
  • 2019-06-28

Intense and Enlightening

I loved it, though I dont agree with the authors political stance that is clearly presented. Though to his credit, evidence to the contrary of his claims didnt arise until after the book was written. I lean right, but am very interested in learning more about psychedelic warlord the man.

3 people found this helpful