“Replay: The History of Video Games”

Tristan Donovan

“Replay” does for video games (which included arcade, console, and computer games) what “Playing at the World did for wargaming and role playing. It’s a serious book covers the well-selected set of landmark games in depth. I only wish there was an updated edition: a lot has happened in the world of games since this book came out in 2010.

“The Future Was Here”

Jimmy Maher

This book, part of the MIT “Platform Studies” series, is an in-depth look at the design of the Amiga computer, the factors that went into that design, and how the design determined what programmers could do with it. I enjoyed it even though I never owned an Amiga.

(Jimmy Maher is the author of the excellent “Digital Antiquarian” blog.)

“The Rebels of Ireland”

Edward Rutherfurd

This book, along with “Princes of Ireland” is typical Rutherfurd: one location and stories about a set of loosely-connected characters through centuries of history. In this case the place is Dublin and the period starts with the last pre-Christian years and extends into the Irish Civil War.

I liked “Princes” a little better. “Rebels” started to drag a bit. They were both good, but not quite as enjoyable as some Rutherfurd’s other novels.

“All Kinds of Magic: A Quest for Meaning in a Material World”

Piers Moore Ede

I might not have discovered this had I not read Ede’s “Kaleidoscope City“, but I’m glad I did. It’s the story of Englishman Ede’s search for “something”. He went — and takes reader — to India, Turkey and to an ayahuasca ceremony. I enjoyed the book, but as I read it I kept wanting to yell at him, “why are you ignoring the spiritual traditions of your own culture!?”.

“Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy”

Eric O’Neill

The FBI knew that Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent near retirement, was working for the Russians. However, to prove it in court they needed to use evidence not gathered from covert sources they wanted to protect. They assigned Eric O’Neill, who had been working with the FBI group tasked with following people, to Hanssen and put them both in a unit whose real and only reason for being was to give O’Neill the chance to spy on his boss.

“Gray Day” is a tense book that, to use a cliche, “reads like a novel”. Given O’Neill’s low, albeit critical, role, it isn’t the full story of Hanssen’s betrayal, but it is a very good read.