It’s hard to be alive and aware in the world today and not see how Silicon Valley has changed how we live our lives. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Santa Clara Valley that is the heart of what we now call Silicon Valley was mostly used for farming. There were a lot of apricots, cherries, prunes, almonds, and walnuts in the area. Today, it’s best known as the home of many of the world’s most powerful high-tech companies. All three of them are there. It’s not just Hewlett-Packard and Intel. Hundreds of other companies are doing the same thing.
A place like Silicon Valley, which has a lot of power, is the subject of many books. Lists of more than 50,000 are available on the site. So, it would be pointless to try to learn about the whole area by reading books. Instead, over the last decade, I’ve tried to pick the people who looked like they could shine the brightest light on the Valley. This is what I did. People I’ve read and liked or disliked in my reviews are listed below. I start with the top 5.
Best books about Silicon Valley: the top
Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age by Leslie Berlin—The people who put Silicon Valley on the map
Troublemakers tells the story of a very important time in the Valley’s history (1969-76). They saw “the most important and diverse burst of technological innovation in the last 150 years.” People started using computers, playing games, and making money with venture capital, as well as making progress in semiconductor logic and biotechnology.”
It takes a lot of people to come up with new ideas, Berlin says in the beginning of her book. There are more than just the usual suspects in this book. She says that is what she wants to do. “Troublemakers” features some of the most well-known people in Silicon Valley history, as well as seven other people who have been talked about more in-depth. It’s worth reading.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou—A cautionary tale about corporate power in Silicon Valley
Bad Blood is a cautionary tale about the damage that corporate power can do in Silicon Valley. It also shows how important investigative journalists are to our society. Their work is one of the few checks we have on corporate misbehavior in our society. If you read this book, you’ll learn about the multi-billion-dollarTheranos scandal. It’s the most dramatic and well-known corporate fraud story since Enron went bankrupt in 2001. Wall Street Journal reporter who spent years exposing the Theranos scandal deserves to be given one of the most prestigious journalism awards. He won the George Polk Award for Financial Reporting in 2016. It’s worth reading.
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee—The best book about artificial intelligence I’ve read so far
Dr. Lee’s thesis is simple. China is close to leveling with the United States in “the most important technology of the twenty-first century,” he says. This is the main point of AI Superpowers. But the book goes far beyond this simple question. It gives a balanced look at the field’s good and bad points. He isn’t sure about the chances for machine super-intelligence that people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have said isn’t going to happen. Lee doesn’t think that machines will kill off the human race. It’s worth reading.
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli—The new Steve Jobs biography is terrific!
Following Walter Isaacson’s best-selling Steve Jobs book by four years, this book is Isaacson’s official biography of Jobs. Isaacson’s book came out just months after Jobs died in 2011. People who worked with him at Apple and Pixar and in Silicon Valley have been very excited about him becoming Steve Jobs. People in the Valley didn’t like Isaacson’s book, even though it had a lot of good reviews in the right places (The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and so forth). I also loved it. But I didn’t know him. did, and for many years. It’s worth reading.
The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb—An artificial intelligence skeptic paints a chilling picture of a future dominated by AI
An expert who can back up your fears about killer robots, the gray goo problem, or robots taking all our jobs isn’t where you need to be. In the beginning, Amy Webb worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. In the last few years, she has become a well-known futurist, author, and the founder of the Future Today Institute in Philadelphia. Webb is also a professor of strategic foresight at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He often advises business and government leaders on how to plan for the future. To see what the future of artificial intelligence will look like, it would be hard to find someone with more experience than the person in this story. That’s what her new book, The Big Nine, is about. Webb can be very harsh at times, but her approach is well-balanced. It doesn’t have a lot of hysteria or irrational joy in it.
Valley of Genius by Adam Fisher
There are no secrets in this book, and it doesn’t try to keep them a secret. As many as 200 interviews with people who know about this innovation hub are used by the author to give the reader an in-depth history of this place. For example, from the time Apple and Atari first came out to today’s clashes between Google and Facebook, there have been a lot of start-ups and changes that took place. It’s one of the best books about Silicon Valley to read if you want to know the truth about the area.
The Code by Margaret O’Mara
Margaret O’Mara, the author of the book, worked in the White House in the very early days of the internet. She saw for herself how close Silicon Valley was to the federal government. Before she wrote this book, she spent five years researching the people and businesses who made Silicon Valley history, and then she wrote it. The book shows how their products have changed over time, and because of her political background, she can show how it fits into the bigger picture of how technology has changed over time.