The Cult of Mac
By Leander Kahney
Publisher: No Starch Press
Price: 39.95 US
I review quite a few computer books, most of which are technical how-tos and the like. I read a ton of other books, though, most of which are fiction or historical in nature. But the books reviewed here at MyMac.com are Mac focused books, most of which end up on a shelf before I donate them to the local library. So it was a pleasant surprise to find Leander Kahney’s hard cover The Cult of Mac in my mailbox last week.
The Cult of Mac is a beautiful hard cover book with a slipcover. It has color pages throughout, and the text is clean, crisp, and easy to read. Not all books are presented in such loving detail as The Cult of Mac is. It really is a nice total package.
What is The Cult of Mac about? Writer Kahney explores many subjects that can fall into the “Mac Users Cult” umbrella, including subjects such as the Newton, people who collect old Macs, the Macworld Expos, and any other oddball Mac user story that Kahney found interesting.
The term “Cult” is not used in a derogatory manner here, even though the term does carry negative connotations. The term really comes from Kahney’s Wired columns in which many of these stories originated. There were a few times while reading a particular story in this book that I remembered reading the same thing, albeit in an abbreviated form, on the Wired.com website.
Kahney hits upon many subjects, though usually the book is focused on the extreme examples or subjects. While each story presented here is true and honest, and Kahney makes no editorial judgments as to whether the behavior is out of the ordinary, he does seem to neglect some of the core Mac user experience and relationship to the platform.
Because this book was written over quite a few years, I found many instances of outdated information. For instance, in one story, Kahney writes about how Stan Flack is the publisher of MacCentral, even though he has not been for three years now. But later in the book, he writes about how MacCentral is owned by Macworld magazine. This suggests that older material was never rewritten or put into historical perspective to when the book was actually published. This is a little sloppy writing or editing in my opinion, but it works very well as a historical reference.
The dated material aside, this is a wonderful book to look at and read. Many of the stories are captivating, and made me want to look up more information online of the people he writes about in the book. Pictures abound in the book, including old Macs, the different paintings of Peter Cohen’s head at Macworld Expos, and the fashions people wear at Macworld Tokyo. All good stuff!
This is one book I will set on my bookshelf and pull down from time to time to reread. This isn’t a book you have to read in sequential order, as each chapter is an island unto itself. Written with detail in mind, The Cult of Mac is a large and ambitious project that was put together with loving care by the author.