Nonfiction Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, July 1998
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Burn Rate by Michael WolffSimon and Schuster, June 1998.
Hardcover, 268 pages.
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"Burn Rate: the amount of money a promising start-up company consumes each month in excess of its income." What an appropriate name for journalist and entrepreneur Michael Wolff's no-holds-barred tale of the early days of the Internet, when millions were made and lost in weeks and no one had any idea exactly what they were doing. With a self-deprecating wit and sometimes shockingly candid accounts of conversations and business meetings, Wolff tells the tale of his own company's rags to riches to rags ride in the world of the Internet and the shark-infested waters of venture-capital financing.
The founder of the bestselling NetGuide, one of the first books to introduce the Internet to the general public, and of the NetBooks, the thirty-title series of Internet guides, Wolff was seduced by the siren song of the venture capitalists who convinced him that being a billionaire was just around the corner. As the company expanded too quickly with a disastrous burn rate of around half a million a month, the frenetic meetings to obtain new financing increase in pace and in absurdity. Throughout it all, Wolff faithfully maintained a record of the events, and his running commentary of the people he meets is absolutely priceless. From Louis Rossetto of Wired to Halsey Minor, CEO of CNET, to the revolving door executives at AOL ("America's most dysfunctional company") no one is spared Wolff's witty, hilarious and sometimes scathing analysis. But ultimately it is Wolff's story -- which is, by turns, hilarious, shocking and poignant. Highly recommended.
--Claire E. White
Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century Paul Harrington and Laura Moorhead.Viking, May 1998.
Hardcover, 236 pages.
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With the resurgence in popularity and hipness of such classic drinks as the Martini and the Gibson, clearly a reliable yet hip guide was needed to guide the twenty, thirty and forty-somethings through the wilds of the cocktail jungle. Never fear, Wired's alchemist Paul Harrington and Laura Harrington have taken on the task of initiating a new generation to the cocktail nation. With fabulous artwork and a snazzy look, the book is as visually appealing as it is useful to budding bartenders. Part 1 of the book guides you through the maze of drinkmaking, describing the proper glassware, the right garnishes, how to measure drinks and why the right ice or water is so important to the taste of a cocktail.
Part 2 showcases the most popular 64 classic drinks with full color photos, a history lesson on the drink (for that all-important party chatter) and complete mixing instructions. Part 3 provides 250 additional drink recipes, replete with rankings of the difficulty of making the drinks. The book also includes a complete glossary of important terms that no mixologist should be without. Comprehensive and very readable, this is one reference guide that no self-respecting hip host or hostess should miss.
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