What We Are Reading Today: Breaking and Entering

Updated 19 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Breaking and Entering

Author: Jeremy N. Smith

In Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called Alien, Jeremy N. Smith tells a tale of computer intrigue, but not through the eyes of the black hats whose misdeeds have dominated recent political news.
Instead, Smith wants readers to meet the people behind the help desk — the tech gurus and security consultants standing between us and digital carnage.
This true thriller dives into a dark world that touches us all, as seen through the brilliant, breakneck career of an extraordinary hacker — a woman known only as Alien.
Reviewing the book for New York Times, Matt Apuzzo said: “If there’s one lesson to be learned from Alien’s story, it is this: As Russian hackers challenge democracies and criminal attacks turn our personaldata into commodities, we cannot turn to technology to save us. Security is only as strong as the employee who tapes his passwords to his cubicle, the overworked guard at the front desk and, yes, the person on the other end of the line when you call the help desk.”


What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

Updated 22 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

  • The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood

Air Traffic is a courageously written book that chronicles among other things Gregory Pardlo’s complex relationship with members of his family, particularly his father and younger brother.

Gregory Pardlo’s father was one of the thousands of air traffic controllers fired in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood.

Pardlo “is a talented writer and he examines so many issues in this memoir — race, economics, manhood, addiction, family and sibling relationships, marriage and parenthood,” says a review published in goodreads.com. A review published in The New York Times, Janet Maslin said: “The book is centered on the troubled relationship between the author and his father, although it roams freely in many other directions ... Simple description does not do Pardlo’s story justice; only his own sublime words can achieve that.” The review added: “When Pardlo won the Pulitzer in 2015 for his collection Digest, the citation praised his ‘clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st-century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.’ Replace the word ‘poems’ with the word “essays,” and you have an apt description of the second part of Air Traffic.”