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Life in a sunny police state: culture Year Zero
“This book is precious. It makes a real contribution to our struggle for liberty and democracy in Vietnam.” – Bui Tin


Pham Xuan An was a brilliant journalist and an even better spy. A long-time correspondent for Time and friendly with many of the legendary reporters covering Vietnam, he was an invaluable source of news and font of wisdom on all things Vietnamese. At the same time, he was a masterful double agent, a North Vietnamese operative whose secret reports were so admired by Ho Chi Minh that he clapped his hands with glee on receiving them and exclaimed, “We are now in the United States’ war room!” An inspired shape-shifter who kept his cover in place until the day he died, Pham Xuan An ranks as one of the preeminent spies of the twentieth century.


It never dawned on Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard--not when growing up together in the Southwest, not during their hippie grad-school days, not even when applying their collective genius in physics and mathematics to winning at roulette in Las Vegas--that someday they would end up as players on Wall Street, beating the Masters of the Universe from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs at their own game....


"The story of how a group of young 1970's computer enthusiasts and sunny California intellectual riffraff together developed a complete microcomputer cum communications system for predicting, using Newtonian mechanics, where on a roulette wheel the bouncing ball would halt. Written in the stle of electronic gonzo journalism, the book shuttles back and forth between the group's Santa Cruz commune and the Las Vegas scene."
--The New York Times

"As gripping as it is insanely comedic. ... One is positively awed by the achievement--even The Double Helix, that classic about the discovery of DNA, seems to fade a little in the memory."
--The Cleveland Plain Dealer


The British edition of The Eudaemonic Pie, with a Postscript updating the story to 1990.

VIETNAMERICA: The War Comes Home

"In his exactly rendered, dramatic account of the lives of the children we fathered in Vietnam and left to the mercies of fortune, Thomas Bass lays bare the souls of two nations. His chronicle of unforseen consequences is a troubling, unflinching, profoundly humane achievement; it will undoubtedly prove to be one of the essential documents about that war and, by implication, all wars."
--Tobias Wolff

CAMPING WITH THE PRINCE And Other Tales of Science in Africa

"One of the refreshing strengths Bass brings to what I suspect was a labor of love is that his real heroes are Africans: bright, educated, dedicated, and optimistic. ... His optimism is based not on the proximity of solutions but on the fact that a new generation of post-colonial Africans--scientists and others--are taking the lead in grappling with the problems that control their destiny."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Bass's book is not simply science writing. Like the researchers with whom he journeys, Bass has learned the effectiveness of combined interests. The result is a tangy verbal concoction: one part science, one part travel, two parts bemused, yet impassioned observation."
--The Christian Science Monitor

REINVENTING THE FUTURE: Conversations with the World's Leading Scientists

Iconoclasts, rebels, and Nobel prize winners talk about science as the dominant metaphor of the twentieth century.


Pham Xuan An and the Tet Offensive

How a military defeat was turned into a psychological victory


"America's Amnesia"

Review of Ken Burns's Vietnam



Museum of Political Corruption: "Throw the Bums In!"

Albany Times Union

Vietnam: Brave New World

Foreign Policy

"Her Scoop Saved Tunisia"

The Daily Beast

"Tunisia Is Turning into a Salafist Battleground"

The Atlantic

"Vietnam's Vo Nguyen Giap"

The Washington Post (November 1, 2013)

"The Ghost of Alfred Dreyfus Is Still Wandering the Streets of Paris"

Tablet Magazine (October 18, 2011)

"The Spy Who Loved Us"

The New Yorker (May 23, 2005)

Black Box

A computer like the one at the trader's elbow is called a black box, meaning that its program is a mystery to the uninitiated. The box is emotionless, opaque, obscure. It gives no winks and nods. "The magic gadget is a little threatening," the trader confesses. Yet people on the floor are impressed by its one salient feature: it appears to have an uncanny knack for being on the right side of trades.

The New Yorker; April 26 & May 3, 1999

Dress Code

Wearables are already bringing us "heads up, hands free" augmented reality in the workplace. Soon we'll be sporting them all the time. Did someone say Borg?

Wired, April 1998

Exile on Newbury Street

On the advice of an astrologer, Nguyen Van Thieu changed his birthday from a date in November 1924 to a more auspicious day, April 5, 1923. The spirits were not fooled. When he resigned as president of the Republic of Vietnam -- the country he had ruled for ten years, until it blinked out of existence with the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975 -- Thieu, in a tear-filled television broadcast, said: "Over the past ten years, all years, months, days and hours in my life have been bad, as my horoscope forecast. As regards my fate, I can enjoy no happiness."

New York Times Magazine, December 2001

Being Nicholas

Nicholas Negroponte is the most Wired man we know (and that's saying something).

Wired, November 1995

The Future of Money

He used to be the most powerful banker in the world. Now he's talking like a cypherpunk. An amazingly frank interview with Walter Wriston about money, the economy, and the digital era.

Wired, October 1996

Gene Genie

It's a hundred times faster than the best serial supercomputer. It's a billion times more energy efficient. It's a trillion times denser than the best storage media. It's a teaspoonful of DNA that's a computer! And Leonard Adleman invented it.

Wired, August 1995

The Phynancier

Out on the high risk frontier where mathematics, physics, and finance collide, the enigmatic and hugely successful quant David Shaw is determined to make Wall Street obsolete.

Wired, January 1997

Think Tanked

The memo from Paul Allen to Interval Research was loud and clear: Give me less R and more D.

Wired, December 1999