NOVELISTIC STORYTELLING: Barlow’s inimitable voice—blunt and idiosyncratic—makes readers feel like they’re alongside him, whether it’s rubbing elbows with Steve Jobs and JFK Jr. or serving as the campaign manager for Dick Cheney.
CUTTING EDGE OF POP CULTURE: As one of the earliest Internet activists, predictions that Barlow made in 1991 regarding technology and net neutrality are still at the forefront of the conversation today. He was friends with the late Aaron Swartz, and Edward Snowden was seen sporting an EFF sticker on his laptop in Oliver Stone’s documentary.
“In Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, a tender, scattershot memoir co-written with Robert Greenfield, the fact that Barlow, who died in February at 70, ’nearly became America’s first suicide bomber’ is presented as a (thankful) near miss in a remarkably ’Zelig-like life.’ It is probably time to retire that shopworn conceit, which invariably nudges biography toward name-dropping. Besides, the original Zelig’s curse was that he helplessly assumed the characteristics of whomever he was with. Barlow was always Barlow, whether he was out on the road with the Dead, teaching JFK Jr. to fly, silk-screening at Warhol’s Factory, helping manage Dick Cheney’s first congressional campaign, dating the Dalai Lama’s sister, or inventing the ways we think about the digital frontier that he christened ’cyberspace.’”—WALL STREET JOURNAL
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